Every Spring I am always tempted to buy lots of hanging baskets of flowers to decorate my home with. I have worked for a green house as a manager and have seen thousands of beautiful baskets of flowers bought and have given out lots of advice to customers. There are several things to consider when buying hanging baskets for your home.
The first is how much care do you want to designate to it? If you have the time to water your plants two or three times a day in hot weather then you have a wider selection than the person who only wants to water his plants once every few days. Another consideration is the amount of light available. If the plant you buy is used to being in full sun and you place in your dark home, the plant will only look good for a few days before it starts to litter the flower with dead leaves and pale flowers. Where you buy your plants is also important. In some larger retail stores, plants are not even watered or there could be other problems like pests, not enough light, and rough handling.
One of the best selling hanging plants is the fuchsia. It looks splendid, flowers hanging in an oriental splender. Fuchsias are very demanding plants though. The first time they dry out and look wilty is the last time they will look good. In hot weather they will need to be water at least 2 or 3 times a day. You will need to fertilize them every other week and make sure they get lots of sun with out being in the hottest most direct sunlight. Fuchsia's roots are very sensitive and even rough handling can shock the plant. If your fuschia does dry out you will need to trim it back and keep it well watered and let it regrow. The nice thing about fuchsias is that you can bring them in for the winter or let them winter in a heated greenhouse.
If you are looking for a plant that takes little care look at geraniums. Yes I know many people consider them 'old- fashioned' but they real need little care and there are many new varities including some that vine. If you forget to water them they are forgiving and unless you really abuse them, live. Geraniums are nice because if you go away for the weekend they will be fine even in very hot weather. Geraniums take full sun and like hot weather. They need little fertilization and need to dry out a little between waterings. In fact if you water them to much and give them to much attention they will look bad. One of my favorite types of geranium are the vining varieties called ivy-geraniums. The flowers on some of these look almost like small roses and the colors vary from white to pink to red and even lavender. Remember to 'dead-head' the flowers, or in layman's terms pick the dead blooms off, and they will flower all summer. If your geranium isn't blooming it is either getting to much fertilizer, to much water, or not enough light. Geraniums can also be wintered over indoors.
Petunias are also very beautiful hanging flowers. If you want to make your own hanging basket you can buy a 4 or 6 pack of petunias and put them in a hanging basket. Often times at garage sales you can find hanging baskets in good shape. Take these home and wash them with soap and water and then plant your own 'flowers' in them. You can buy potting soil and smaller plants for a lot less than the cost of a hanging basket. By making your own baskets you can easily save 3/4 the cost of the hanging baskets you see at most green houses.
Make sure to buy your flowers from a reputable dealer and when you walk through the greenhouses look for signs of insects on the plants. Check to see if the soil is damp on the plants. If you have to travel very far with your plants this is important because they will dry out very fast in a trunk or back seat. If your car is nice remember to bring newspapers along to keep your car seats from getting dirty. Be wary of buying plants at large chain stores! Some of these stores may never water the plants and after a day or two throw out the dried out plants. Meanwhile people figure they have a real deal and later find out there 'deal' has died.
If you are interested in making unusual hanging baskets read the tags on the packs of inexpensive annuals and vegetables plants. Many annuals and even some vegetables make beautiful baskets. Straw- berries and herbs are popular for some of the baskets. The tags in the plants will tell you how much light and how much water are needed. Sometimes you can make great baskets using clips from house plants. All you need is a little creativity and a commitment to making sure your plants stay watered and enjoyed. Good luck and good growing!
(copyright Kay Hansen)
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