The Best Way to Water & Feed your Hanging Baskets
Nothing creates a better summer front door or patio look than a gorgeous hanging basket, overflowing with bright blooms and foliage. There are so many colours and varieties available, that you might think the hardest part is choosing which one to bring home! However, once it's hung and admired by you and the neighbours, you have to start thinking about how to take care of your new hanging basket, especially when asking the question, 'How much water does my hanging basket need'?
Don't worry! I've been growing hanging baskets for over 20 years, and I can give you all the tips and tricks you need to keep your hanging basket healthy and blooming all summer long.
How Much Water Does My Hanging Basket Need?
Let's get real here. Your hanging basket is a thirsty little fellow, and he's going to need a lot of water to survive those hot summer days. On average, an established 12" or 14" hanging basket will need 1 gallon of water every time you water it. (Better start building up those arm muscles!) During cooler spring or fall months, you may not need to water your hanging basket every day. However, when the temperatures start climbing up in the 25-40'C range, you will not only have to water everyday, you might have to water twice a day!
Every time you water, you should make sure to completely saturate the soil. You should see at least 10% of the water drain out of the bottom of the pot, so that you know for sure it's reached all the way through the soil. This will ensure that your plants have enough moisture to survive the heat of the day. (You wouldn't wait until after you get home from the beach to hydrate, right?) Take your basket off its hook to water it, if you don't want your front doorway area to get wet.
Pro Tip! New hanging baskets that have just been planted up, and who's young plants need to establish roots, will need less water. In fact, for new baskets you only want to use about 1/2 the volume of the pot (2 litres for a 12-14" pot) rather than flooding the soil. Why? In order for the roots to grow, they have to search for water. Once the roots have grown enough to touch the edge of the pot, that's when the tops will grow and you will see foliage and flower growth.
What Time of Day Should I Water My Hanging Basket?
The best time of day to water your hanging basket is in the morning, preferably between 5am and 9am. This ensures that your plants have enough moisture and can stay hydrated through the hottest hours of the day. Watering in the evening is definitely not appreciated, as plants hate going to bed with wet roots. (Who can blame them!)
If it's an extremely hot day, and you need to give your hanging baskets a second watering, try to do it between 4pm and 5pm, but not any later.
New hanging baskets that have just been planted up, and who's young plants need to establish roots, will need less water. In fact, you only want to use about 1/2 the volume of the pot (2 litres for a 12-14" pot) rather than flooding the soil. Why? In order for the roots to grow, they have to search for water. Once the roots have grown enough to touch the edge of the pot, that's when the tops will grow and you will see foliage and flower growth.
How Can I Tell When My Hanging Basket Needs Water?
The easiest test to find out if your hanging baskets need water or not, is to put your hand on the bottom of the pot and lift it up slightly. You can feel from the weight of the pot, whether the soil is dry or still wet. If it lifts easily, you probably need to add some water to make sure your plants have enough moisture.
Make sure to remove the rain spout from the tip of your watering can (if your can has one) before you water. This allows you to really get the tip inside the plants, and water the soil. Make sure to avoid watering from above the basket, so you don't get the foliage too wet. Otherwise you will get dark spots on the leaves and flowers in your hanging basket.
Should I Fertilize My Hanging Baskets?
Absolutely! Just like all your potted plants, your hanging baskets need nutrients in order to grow and thrive. They can use up all of the nutrients in their soil within a few weeks, and need a continuous stream of food. I recommend water soluble fertilizer, as it's easy to use, and ensures the roots can absorb the nutrients.
I always use a 15-30-15 with micro-nutrients for my hanging baskets. You can either use it every second watering at full strength, or (my personal recommendation) use it every time you water but at 1/2 strength.
Pro Tip! If you have forgotten to water your baskets, so much so that they have become bone dry and the plants are wilted, then don't use fertilizer again until the soil has absorbed enough clean water to become soft and the plants have perked up. Then you can continue your regular fertilizer schedule.
Water is the most important part of taking care of your hanging basket. A regular watering schedule, with fertilizer, will ensure a beautiful blooming and growing basket throughout the season. Hope these tips and tricks were useful for your plants, and enjoy your hanging baskets this summer!