GARDENING: How to achieve perfect hanging baskets

Water, feed and dead-head - your hanging basket routine. Picture: Shutterstock
Water, feed and dead-head - your hanging basket routine. Picture: Shutterstock
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The hanging baskets are looking good. This is because they have been watered regularly and fed. A little liquid food every other day, using the minimum amount is the best idea because the plants are in a very small amount of compost.

Think about it. Every time they are watered the food they need is washed out of the compost.  A bucket on the ground below the basket helps to prevent wasting water and can be used for another basket.

It’s a good idea to find a liquid feed for the flowers which would stay active in the baskets. There is one called Maxicrop Complete plant food. This has a seaweed base and when used in a watering can the compost absorbs the feed, the roots penetrate the compost and absorb the elements they need to grow and flower.

There are four different types of Maxicrop and they are all available at garden centres. We use Maxicrop Complete for almost everything in the garden.

There is another especially for tomatoes, another which is called Plant Stimulator which is good if your plants are not growing well – it gives them a bit of oomph – and another with sequestered iron which is excellent for plants that need extra iron. Hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons benefit from this feed and heathers romp away after just one application.

During our normal cool summer, it is a good idea to use Maxicrop for tomatoes but when it is very hot plants don’t need so much potash, so change to Maxicrop Complete plant food.

The flat-backed, round-fronted baskets which fit on a wall are doing well. This is because the wall stops them drying out in hot weather. The plants are also protected from wind because they don’t fly around. Feed them regularly and they should produce a mass of blooms and foliage.

To keep the plants growing well, keep removing plants’ dead blooms. Good gardeners do this every day because they have learned that annuals produce flowers which produce seeds but if the seed heads are removed, the plant can’t reproduce and in desperation, they start to grow again... as long as they have plenty of food.

The herbaceous border also looks good. The delphiniums are now more than six feet tall and each spike has been tied to a bamboo cane. Once the flowers fade, cut the stems to 12in, fork around the base and give them two gallons of Maxicrop Complete and they will send up replacement spikes in September. Not many people know this but spikes of delphinium in September is a great bonus. No one else will have any!

Sadly the granny’s bonnets have finished flowering so the seed heads have been cut off. They won't flower again this year but the foliage looks pretty and as we knew they would finish flowering Pam asked me to put in some cosmos. These gems are cheap and if planted in gaps in a border will produce masses of blooms right up to the first frosts. Keep dead-heading!