Midwest Garden Guys

Hanging Basket Challenge

SCOTT: Mike, Sylvania has some beautiful hanging baskets all around town and I am here to challenge our readers to build their own! Would you share some tips please?

MIKE: Choosing the basket is an important step. Being able to plant on the sides as well as the top gives a fuller look right away. A wire basket with coco liner is easy to cut into the sides to add plants. We also need to consider the basket’s location, not only for sun/shade reasons but also for windy areas and ease of watering. Can you easily bring it to the ground to water?

SCOTT: Plant styles are important; uprights, trailing, spreading and mounding. Thus, I imagine we’ll be layering these like we would do landscape spaces?

MIKE: Start at the center of the basket. I recommend a plant called Spikes. They give the appearance of height plus area, by fanning outward. Next, I would recommend Springeri, placed along the outer perimeter. Vinca Vines planted around the edge will drape downward and will hide the basket. Finally fill the voids in the basket with your chosen sun or shade flowers. Baskets have a very short time to get full sized so pack them in to get a full, lush look right away.

SCOTT: What about drainage?

MIKE: One of the MOST IMPORTANT needs is PROPER DRAINAGE! Most hanging baskets already come with drainage holes, but please stay away from plastic liners which prevent drainage. Cage baskets that use shredded moss or coco as a liner performs adequate drainage and keeps soil and roots well aerated.

SCOTT: Now for soil, if we have a bunch of plants in a limited area, we’ll need to water a lot and nutrients will be consumed quickly, right?

MIKE: The proper soil/medium is an absolute must. A mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite help to retain the necessary moisture and nutrients and still keep it light enough for hanging. I happen to be partial to a good, inexpensive blend called Baccto Lite. When applying nutrients, I absolutely recommend a water-soluble bloom builder fertilizer once a week for three weeks.

SCOTT: A consistent, complete watering of a hanging basket reminds me of watering succulents. A full soaking makes sure you get the roots at all levels.

MIKE: A good way to check if they need water is to lift the basket. If it is much lighter than it was the day before, stick your finger into the soil. If it is dry a half inch down, then soak the schmutz out of it and let it drain.
SCOTT: How about a quick list of plants we can use in our baskets?

MIKE: Glad you asked… how about some Lobelia, Creeping Jenny, Alyssum, Lantana, wait a minute… if you want my full list, you’ll just have to listen to the hanging baskets podcast!

SCOTT: And there you have it, YMGP’s challenge for you to build your own hanging baskets. Until next time, green thumbs up!

Your Midwest Garden Podcast guys, Mike O’Rourke and Scott Sandstrom, will be sharing gardening advice and information with readers throughout the growing season. O’Rourke, retired from Black Diamond Garden Center and known as the Garden Guy for many years, discusses landscape issues with Sandstrom in a casual conversation designed to educate listeners, and now readers, on a wide variety of topics.

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