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Planting Hanging Baskets ~ how to create beautiful summer displays

Set your hanging planters on empty flower pots to support them as you work. Periodically check each basket from all sides as you’re planting to make sure it looks balanced. Pre-plan your planting layout to place the plants that will trail the least length at the bottom and the fuller, longer trailing plants near and at the top. This will ensure that you don’t end up with an empty gap between the layers of plants as they mature.

hanging basket1. Line the hanging basket. If you’re using moss, soak it in a bucket of water first. Then take a handful at a time, wring it out lightly, and press it against the inside of the basket. Work up from the bottom, building a moss layer about 1 1/2″ thick.

2. Mix the potting soil with a slow-release fertilizer and water-retention granules in the amount recommended on the package. Fill the planter halfway and water well.

3. Give nursery plants a thorough watering before unpotting them. Space them in the hanging planter about 4″ apart, firming the soil around each one with your fingers. To plant through the sides, make slits in the coconut liner or gently pull apart the moss, and wrap the root ball in a plastic bag to facilitate slipping it through the wire. Then remove the plastic. Be sure roots are all the way through the liner and embedded in the soil.

4. Add more soil to the hanging basket, filling to about 3/4″ from the top of the rim. Gently firm the soil around the plants.

5. Hang your planter and water it well, soaking the top and sides.

Provide lots of TLC

Hanging planters dry out quickly, so expect to water every day – perhaps twice a day in hot weather. Use a watering wand for hard-to-reach hanging baskets. (If you happen to skip a day and the basket dries out, administer first aid by taking it down and submerging it in a bucket of water.) Since all that watering leaches out nutrients, regular feeding is essential. The secret to lush, continuous blooms is to continue to apply a diluted liquid fertilizer about every third watering.

For bushier growth, use your thumb and index finger to pinch out the smallest set of leaves at the tip of the stems. Wait two weeks after planting before you pinch, to enable the roots to get established. Also remove spent blooms (deadhead) to encourage plants to produce more flowers. And remember to rotate your hanging baskets regularly to allow all sides to get their share of sunlight.

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