In this column, Donegal Daily’s Conor Gallinagh discusses some helpful hints and tips to keep your hanging baskets and window boxes looking their best for over summer months.
Hanging baskets and window boxes provide that little extra colour to brighten up your garden over the summer months. They are a great addition and can be filled with an array of colours and different plants too.
My favourite at the moment for your hanging baskets is the humble Bacopa ‘Snowflake’.
The key is to remember that most of your summer bedding plants are annuals. This means the will do their life cycle over one year. So they will put out flowers followed by seeds and die off.
Simple lift you’re hanging basket and weigh it in your hand, too light water, too heavy don’t water.
Little and often is the key here. In my experience, watering first thing in the morning is important. There is no point going out one day and giving them loads of water i.e. where they are basically swimming in it and then none for a couple of days.
This can lead to two problems
- A) It will cause all the nutrients to be washed down to the very bottom of the hanging the basket or window box. This will result in nutrients been outreach of the shallow roots summer bedding produce.
- B) This causes stress, where the plant either becomes waterlogged or suffering from the lack of water. This will cause the onset of stress and see the plant begin to suffer. A tell-tale sign is seeing is the flowers shrivelling up or the yellowing of the leaves. At this stage, it could be too late though to revive the plant so don’t let them get this far!!
All that energy that the summer bedding plants put into producing a magnificent show of colour, they are bound to get hungry. It is important to regularly feed the summer bedding. A clear indication that they require feeding is that either stop producing flowers or discolouration in the leaves.
There are many options whenever it comes to suitable feeds and a lot of them are diluted with water. The reason for this is that it is quick acting and short lasting fertiliser, remember summer bedding=summer so they are not there for the year.
Specialised hanging basket/window box feeds – From my own experiences I find these the most effective to encourage a good flowering habit.
Homegrown feed – Comfrey is another one that has been suggested, were you steep the leaves in water. Once the nutrients have been collected from leaves use the solution as a dilute with water and add it to your baskets or window boxes.
It is important to regularly go along and pinch off growth along the tips of the plant. This will encourage a bushier habit and allow it to fill out the hanging basket or window box more.
You don’t take all that much just the very tip of it unless it has gotten out of control and in this case, cutting it back a little bit can be done to bring back under control once again.
It prevents the flowers from getting out of control and becoming straggly. It will also encourage a better growing formation and leading to fewer problems with the base of the plant becoming bare.
This is one of the most important jobs you can do to ensure you have a continuous long-lasting window box or hanging basket.
When you are carrying out this it is important not to just pull off the flowers but to pinch behind the flowers and removing the seed as well. The flower will continue putting its energy into producing non-viable seeds so don’t be thinking great seeds for next year. Not going to work!!!
Deadheading does a few things. It encourages the summer bedding to re-flower again and therefore longer lasting a flowering period. Removes the ugly appearance of the hanging basket or window boxes. It also helps to prevent the occurrence of disease or pests being attracted to your summer bedding.
In days of particularly bad weather (heavy rainfall) try to protect your summer bedding plants. Be it either taken down your hanging baskets or removing the window boxes from the wall and putting them indoors for the day.
This will help to prevent them from getting damaged from the weather. It also prevent too many of the flowers dying back due to rain or wind and having to start from almost scratch again.
If the care is put in the summer bedding is a true delight in any garden. It offers that essential bit of colour throughout the summer in places where they are no flowers are between different flowering periods.
Bookings now being taken for any community groups or clubs and gardening clubs for talks and courses. Contact details can be found below for further information.
BAgrSc, Horticulture, Landscape, & Sportsturf Management