Hanging Baskets

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Hanging flowers in baskets is another way to enhance your landscape.  Instead of taking up space in the garden, they can be displayed from a variety of locations in your yard to add still another dimension of beauty.

Just as with container gardens, hanging baskets are filled with colorful annuals that keep blooming throughout the summer season.  And just as container gardens, if hung fairly low, look best with a tall upright center plant, smaller varieties massing outwards, and those that hang down and trail over the edges.  If however, the basket is to be hung higher than eye-level, the tall center plant should be omitted with emphasis put on achieving a more rounded contour.

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Choosing a container for your hanging display is a little more complex than it is for patio display.  You have various similar mediums of plastic and wood to choose from with a straightforward method of filling with soil and planting, but also others that require special attention when planting.  One of these is a wire basket.  The advantage of a wire basket is that plants can be planted into its sides at different intervals to form a fuller, more all-encompassing mass of flowers that surround the whole container as well as trail downwards.

To plant into a wire basket, a liner is needed to keep the soil from washing out.  A good choice for lining is sphagnum moss, cocoa fiber, or other straw-like material.  Pre-formed liners are available at your local garden center and can be cut to fit.  Once the liner is in, holes can be made through the fibers from the sides of the basket and plants inserted from outside to in, root first.  To prevent damage to the roots, wrap with tissue prior to inserting and remove tissue once in place.  After the sides are planted, add soil to within an inch of the top of the container, and continue to plant from the top.  When all plants are in place, water generously to settle the soil around the roots.

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To get your baskets off to a good start, use lightweight packaged potting soil with equal parts vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss, and which contains a slow-release fertilizer. Choose and arrange plants to maximize their beauty, either filling your basket with a single variety or combining two or three varieties that flower at different times for more interest, making sure not to overplant, but providing room enough for their growth and spread. Good mounding plant choices for hanging baskets are alyssum, wax begonia, impatiens, pansies and brachyscome.  Those that trail include verbena, ivy, scavola, sweet potato vine, trailing petunia, lysimachia and calibrachoa.

Hanging baskets look great suspended outward from a fence, pole, or corner of a building, making sure that wherever you locate them they will not pose a hazard.  If suspended overhead, keep them high enough to be walked under, or if positioned outward, make sure they do not block walkways or interfere with other functions around the yard.  Hang a series together at eye level for most visual impact or suspend them over an existing garden.  Use them to enhance your front entrance by hanging them on display just outside your front door or at intervals along the length of a front porch. Here they will provide you with an abundant display of color as well as create a sense of privacy. Wherever you place them in your landscape, you can be sure they will add greatly to the curb appeal of your home.

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Keep your hanging baskets looking their best all season long with a few maintenance tips.  Water, water, water.  Keep them from drying out with consistent and frequent watering, fertilize weekly, cut tips back regularly to encourage fuller and consistent flowering, and faithfully deadhead as flowers fade. Follow these tips and you will enjoy a beautiful display all summer long!

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