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This week’s postbag was interesting because a lot of gardeners are complaining that their hanging baskets are not so good this year.
They’re lacking vitality and the flowers don’t seem to be lasting as long as usual. So what is the answer?
Hanging baskets can be really beautiful, but only if we remember the plants are growing in a small container. There are about 21 plants in a basket which has only little more than a bucket of compost in it.
The best plan is to take off every dead bloom each day. Yes, every day.
Petunias really respond because if they are allowed to set seed, the parent plant will turn brown and die.
It can be difficult to find the dead blooms, but they will be nearest the bottom of the plant and after a few days the dead flowers become crisp. Unopened blooms near the top of the plant are distinctly fresh.
A pair of sharp scissors, using just the tips, will do the trick. Put the dead heads on the compost heap.
Bidens, a member of the aster family, in baskets are just wonderful. The flowers tumble down to make a waterfall of yellow blooms. In the early part of the season they just look like ferny foliage, but once they become established they will bloom their socks off until the frosts arrive as long as they are dead-headed every day. A pair of scissors is just what’s needed.
Going back to the small amount of compost in the baskets, remember they need to be fed regularly.
This is very important and when judging it is easy to see who feeds regularly.
Some gardeners buy the recommended feed but don’t use it. But if you do, it will work and transform your baskets.
Chemical fertilisers feed the plants, but if we look at the biological process we also need to feed the compost.
If we feed the compost the plants will take out the nutrients and will grow beautifully.
Look at the directions on a bottle of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser and use the weakest strength every time the baskets are watered. Keep dead-heading and you will have the best baskets ever.
If you suffer from wind, use flat-backed, round-fronted baskets because the wall will protect the plants from the wind.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Did you remember to plant runner beans in a growing bag? If you forgot, it isn’t too late. Use 8ft-long canes to allow the beans to reach for the sky.