Gardening Tips for Watering Hanging Flower Baskets
Importance of Watering Hanging Flower Baskets
I have found that when making up aof permanent plants, such as ivy, it is a good plan to leave the basket standing on the ground in a shady place for a week or two after planting. This encourages good rooting to take place if the basket is watered carefully and saves the plants being rocked about in the wind while they are getting established.
On the subject of watering, I always try to make things as easy as possible for myself by positioning baskets at eye-level or at least within arm’s reach, to avoid having to climb up on a stool or stepladder. Although now you can buy baskets on mechanisms which can be lowered very easily for watering. Don’t water in ‘dribs and drabs’ — do it thoroughly and regularly. A sad sight in winter is the basket which has been left hanging forlornly with its summer plants long dead. It is probably too high to have encouraged regular watering and attention. Once a basket has really dried out the plants will take ages to recover, if they ever do.
Undoubtedly baskets need a deep drink every week, perhaps twice or three times a week, or even every day or twice a day in windy, dry, or sunny weather, or when hanging in exposed places. Thirsty baskets result, too, when they are sited in sheltered courtyards surrounded by walls which store up heat during summer days and continue to giving off heat for hours after the sun has gone.
The best way to give a basket a deep drink is to use an old washing-up bowl filled with water (a liquid plant feed can be added occasionally). The bowl should be large enough for the basket to be immersed with room to spare for the side growths so that they do not get bruised or damaged. The water should reach almost to the top of the basket. The drinking process can be speeded up by watering the top of the hanging basket with a can. Flowering side growths and trailing growths can be placed over the edge of the bowl so that they are never submerged. Contact with the water can spoil delicate ‘thin’ petals, and a soaking under water will make double‘ball’ – their petals stick together and they look a sorry sight. The roots, of course, revel in their bath. I give a soaking of about half an hour and then stand each flower basket gently on a bucket to drain well before re-hanging. This method does not work with a hanging container which has no holes. In this case the should be tested for dryness with the fingers; the moment it feels dry just below the surface is the moment to water. You will soon develop a ‘feel’ for this. A plant which is actually growing in the container can be watered with a can, but one which is in its own pot inside the container can be simply lifted out, pot and all, and immersed in a bowl of water.
A tier of wall baskets, one above another, reduces the daily watering chore – water the top one with your can and the surplus will run down on to the one below, and so on. However, all the baskets should be taken down regularly for a really good soak in a bucket or bowl. At all times keep a can of water handy to nudge your memory about watering. Rainwater is generally preferable to tap water if you can collect enough in a butt or buckets and bowls.
Some plants, such as button daisies, pansies. and, have little built-in resistance to drought. If they are allowed to dry out and flag they can rarely be completely brought back to full health. A first-aid treatment for flagging plants is to completely immerse them in water for a couple of hours. When the basket is returned to its hook, you will need to pull a large plastic bag right over it, plants and all. Make as good a closure as you can and leave this mini-greenhouse overnight. More often than not, every plant will be crisp and well by morning – and you will no doubt resolve never to let them dry out again!
With constant regular watering, the top surface of compost in a hanging basket exposed to sun or wind may soon form a crust through which water may then find difficulty in penetrating. The remedy is to gently stir up the surface compost; weeding also helps. In the growing season, all plants in hanging baskets should be fed one of the proprietary liquid feeds once a week (although I know of friends who swear by cold tea!) Do not feed sick plants, one which is resting after flowering, or newly planted ones. A feed just before flowering is most helpful though. Liquinure, Maxicrop, Kerigrow and Baby Bio are among the many currently available. Outdoor hanging flower baskets usually need feeding every week from around mid-June until the first frosts.