How to Not Kill Your Hanging Basket

21 Jul

Wif is new to this whole gardening game.  I’ve always paraded around pretending to have a green thumb but the reality is that not-killing-cacti doesn’t qualify you as a gardener.  Now that Jer and I have had several ‘homes’ (okay fine apartments and one home – whatever) I’ve found myself seeking out more formidable greenery… and as a result – I’ve come dangerously close to becoming a plant murderer as of late.

Once upon a time a kind and caring hubby surprised his wif with a *beautiful* petunia and tiny yellow flower hanging basket for their 8 year anniversary.  Tragically, within a few short weeks that rude basket staged a revolt and committed suicide, despite wif’s nobel attempts to keep it happy.  (Translation: Wif insisted hubby take her to Bristol’s to pick out a hanging basket for their anniversary.  After much deliberation hubby demanded wif decide on one and she ended up with a big, colorful purple and yellow one.  But nobody at that silly gardening place bothered to mention how to care for a hanging basket.  Therefore, wif promptly kilt it dead.  As in brown and crunch dead. ) Please note that there are no photos of the dead basket.  I was in mourning – photos just seemed cruel.

Wif was pretty confident that she’d been hoodwinked to hubby called Bristol’s and they said bring it back – we’ll exchange it.  ‘Course we got there and by ‘exchange’ they meant ‘point out that you’re a plant-killer and better luck next time.‘  Mrs. Gardener lady also pointed out that apparently those hanging baskets also need fertilizer and insane amounts of water.  Well that’s nice to know TWO WEEKS TOO LATE.

And here’s the unbelievable twist:  wif brought that rebellious plant BACK TO LIFE.  At least the purple parts.  Those yellow guys seem to be gone forever.  I’m pretty sure they were weak anyways – so let’s just call it survival of the fittest okay?

Anyways – revival!  Hooray!  So if you kilt your pretty pile of flowers in a bucket too – or perhaps you’d like to work preventatively, here’s the basics that saved my petunias!

  • Give that bad boy TONS of water everyday… As it stick the hose in there and run it till it overflows.  Or if you use a watering can – pour on one full bucket a day.  If the soil is very dry and water tends to just run through – try pouring on a bit, then waiting a few minutes before following with the rest.
  • Use Miracle Gro. I guess I thought miracle gro was for the weak.  Turns out it can save your bacon.  I use the “Bloom booster flower food” blue powder.  Since I don’t have the hose gizmo I just add a tablespoon or so to my watering can once a week.  Miraculous is not an overstatement.
  • Keep ’em in a sunshiny place. Turns out hanging baskets in your living room are a bad idea.  Mine is really happy hanging from an eave on the south side of our front patio.
  • Give ’em the occasional haircut. For whatever reason petunias like to be hacked back once in a while.  Ever few week I just use regular scissors to snip off the extra legginess and attempt to bring it back to a cute shape.  I find it to be a little traumatic to do this type of chopping of a living plant so I always use some of the blooms to decorate the house – alleviates some of the pain.
  • Sometimes you gotta pluck the dead guys. I don’t worry about it too often – but occasionally I pull out the dead heads.  Plus, dead heading is an incredibly delightful verb.
  • Ignore the doubters. People might think your greenery has croaked.  Don’t give up until you’ve tried copious watering and miracle gro.  Also, hubs may give you a heart attack by telling you half of your basket is dead.  Don’t be alarmed.   By dead he just means lighter purple.  Not synonymous. Whew.

Pretty sure that’s all you need to know to not kill your hanging basket!  Now go forth and kill no more:)

(Obvs such gorgeous blooms (especially of the resurrected type) deserve big pictures – you get that right?;])

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2 Responses to “How to Not Kill Your Hanging Basket”

  1. Basia July 21, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Also, get a large basin or bowl, fill it with water/fertilizer mix so that the planter will NOT be submerged but will have soaking feet, set the basket into it & let it soak overnight. Drain & hang the following day. Do that with one per day, once a week, and you won’t have to bother with the daily buckets. A more reasonable supplementary douse will do!

    If you plant your own next year, cut circles from old shower curtains or drop cloths; about the size of a lunch plate. Nest that into the bottom of the raffia (or whatever that stuff is!) and then fill with potting soil. Use the kind of soil that contains moisture-holding crytals. Drastically extends water-retention time. The plastic helps hold a little more moisture but never so much that roots can rot.

    The problem garden centers don’t reveal is that hanging baskets’ soil/roots are uniquely over-exposed to drying breezes. It’s a rude surprise for novices!! Glad your purple beauties hung in there!

    • Basia July 21, 2010 at 10:33 am #

      Duh! Didn’t spot the containers! I thought you meant the cocoa fiber baskets! No plastic insert – but the rest of the advice still stands.

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