The choices for hanging containers abound for gardeners so decide which suits your outdoor dcor. Make sure the container drains properly to prevent waterlogged roots and dead plants. Punch a few holes in the base of the planter with a screwdriver and hammer to assure drainage. Don't make the holes too large since soil will drain out of the planter base.
Choose sturdy containers made of plastic, preferably those with an attached plastic base that allows drainage. Metal planters lined with coconut fiber provide the perfect hanging basket for creating a beautiful flower display. The coconut fiber keeps the dirt in and allows excess water to drain right out the bottom of the planter. Any container is acceptable as long as the plants have adequate drainage. If you simply can't put a hole in the hanging planter, add a 2-inch layer of rocks to the bottom of the planter to aid drainage.
Sun or Shade Tolerance
There are literally so many choices for creating stunning floral displays. The key lies in choosing plants that complement each other and adequately use the space within the planter to maximum benefit. Evaluate the planter location for sun exposure before purchasing any plants. Purchase either sun-tolerant or shade tolerant plants based on the final location of the basket.
Varying the height of plants creates visual interest in the planter. Including a simple green spike creates a splash of vibrant green right in the middle of a basket filled with flowering annuals. You have plenty of space above the rim of the planter and at the edges. Use this space. Plants that spread and trail such as petunias, vinca vine and geraniums will nicely fill a planter to overflowing, hiding the planter rim for a more refined look. Consider adding penta, a delicate flowering annual with flowers similar to a verbena to add height to the basket. There's no limit to what you can put into a hanging flower basket.
Texture and Balance
Including plants with textured leaves also works to bring contrast to the basket. This is especially easy with shade tolerant plants. Caladium and coleus provide stunning, vibrant leaf color. New Guinea Impatiens, begonias or torenia all have beautiful leaf colors with stunning flowers. When creating a hanging basket, aim to incorporate some foliage into the mix of colors in your basket to form a frame for your flowering plants. This mixture of color with foliage creates a sense of balance that's commonly seen in the most beautiful professionally designed hanging baskets.
Preparation and Care
Use a high quality potting soil and purchase a good all-purpose plant food. Potting soil nutrients dissolve quickly so you'll need to regularly add fertilizer to the pot. When planting the individual plants, tap the side of the plastic pot and work the plant free. Press your fingers into the sides and bottom of the root ball to loosen the roots. You can also free the roots by gently spraying water on the base of the plant with a hose. When planting, put a good base of potting soil beneath the plant and position all plants to allow for growth. Press the soil firmly in the planting and add enough potting soil to reach about an inch below the rim. For extra water retention, add a fine layer of mulch on top of the potting soil.
Hanging baskets require frequent watering so monitor the needs of your plants carefully. In most cases, regular rain simply isn't enough to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Water carefully and fertilize weekly for the health of your plants. After a few weeks, you'll notice the soil level receding. Add fresh potting soil up to the rim level again to keep your hanging basket flowers healthy and beautiful.
[Image Credit: RobenMarie, Morguefile]