The Most Explicit (and complete) set of Instructions for a Beautiful, Long-Lasting Hanging Basket, Ever.

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  • By Jonn "J-Dogg" Karsseboom
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We like to say, that if you think it’s a beautiful hanging basketnow  just wait till you see it grow throughout the season. Hopefully it’s going to adapt to your home, find it’s groove and with just the right amount of care, your basket is only going to change for the better.

 

How do we know this? We have been doing hanging baskets for close to 30 years now.  Not just planning and planting and growing (and then selling them) but caring for and maintaining them in all the varied cities of the Pacific Northwest. (And we do this throughout the entire year too.) In other words, we live hanging baskets.Which means we’ve had a chance to make plenty of mistakes. Each one of those mistakes was of course, our  chance to improve. We aren’t finished just yet. 

 

Now in any set of instructions there are the basics, the gistto get it fairly right. But we think you may want more. Not just the annoying “water regularly” but the actual nuanceof gardening with a hanging basket.  What does it mean to water? What does that look like? And weird detailed stuff too: Can I water in the hot sun? (Yes!) What’s an average water flow rate through a garden hose? (Answer: 6 gallons per minute.) 

 

Which brings up a small important detail: If you have a question that isn’t answered here let us know. We’ll include it or clarify in our next edition. Your questions matterbecause it will help the next gardener and together, we’ll conquer the world. Truth be told, we are stronger (and greater) together.

 

One more important point: These steps are not suggested ala cart items like a Mother’s Day breakfast buffet. (Yes, doing anystep will show great improvement.) But rather think of the steps like a full complete and artful karate move. From the very beginning to the complete follow-through, Danielson. So, don’t forget the follow through.

 

Without mincing words then, here’s the good stuff:

 

Get good at the watering

 

 It will enhance not just your hanging baskets but ALL areas of your garden (and so, your life.)

 

For your Passion Basket use five gallons of water.Every otherday. (Yes, even when its cloudy, overcast or raining.) Also, it doesn’t matter if you water in the morning, afternoon or in the middle of the night.

 

But it does matter that you’re consistent.That means if you prefer say, watering in the morning with the nuthatches and robins then water in the morning every time. It becomes problematic if you choose the morning on one day and then the next watering day choose to water at night.  That is a difference of 12 hours without water and for a hanging basket in full bloom it may take months for it to fully recover.

 

Five gallons you say? Yes. Try this experiment: Literally take five, one-gallon jugs of water and pour that into your basket. (It’s a great visual.) Five gallons is incidentally 50 seconds with your garden hose on high. (For cost accountants, it is one penny worth of water.)

 

Here’s the why: Often the first gallon of water that hits the soil, skims over the top and actually runs down the space between the root ball and the actual pot. This gives an impression that the basket is watered because it’s draining. Don’t believe it.

 

It takes the next four gallons to fully hydrate the root ball.

 

Small side details. If you’re the efficient type and have installed drip irrigation be sure to actually measure the amount of waterthat flows from the line. Put a five gallon bucket under the line and time it with a stopwatch. (You do know the stopwatch is on your phone right?) This bit of prep work will make all the difference for you when your basket is in full, happy bloom during the hottest part of the season. 

 

If you get just the watering right you’re guaranteedto see a major improvement in your hanging basket, (or container). You’ll be 97.56% there. The next three steps are the important follow thru in this entire gardening-as-a-karate-move.

 

Your hanging basket is dependent entirely upon you for food. It’s right here that we make no bones about it. We’re a practical science people. We’re not at all impressed with fast results early season only to be disappointed that during the high heat there isn’t any miracle happening when it’s needed most.

 

What we have discovered is that our very own slow as we go, earth friendly, complete with all the important micro nutrients mixture works best. Flower Powerfeeds slowly and its combination of nutrients allow for the plants to continually take it up even when the conditions are at its harshest.

 

Mind you, this isn’t advertising. We use Flower Power in all the different cities we care for and maintain throughout the entire Portland Metro area. From Lake Oswego, Wilsonville, Tualatin, Gresham, Hillsboro and many other areas, our baskets can’t lie. The proof we like to say, is in our basket.

 

Here are the details: We use Flower Power once per week.  The instructions on the bottle tell us to to add a tablespoon per gallon. Since we water with five gallons a day you may add five tablespoons to that day’s allotment of water.

 

Since mixing and pouring five gallons of water can be physically demanding it’s permissible to add the five tablespoons to the last quart of water. Not to worry, Flower Power won’t burn foliage.

 

As temperatures rise so does the chance of attracting harmful bugs.(Side note here: Not all bugs are harmful.) For a basket hanging in the breeze over a period of months, it’s chance is 100 percent.

 

Here we’ve melded the most effective remedy for insects with the most practical. We use Insect Terminate. It’s the most effective because in one fell monthly swoop, it will take care of 99% of the harmful insects that can attack and weaken your plants. It happens to be the most practical because it doesn’t need to be sprayed. It can be simply added to the water once per month.

 

We use 2 tablespoons of Insect terminate per gallon of water. (The directions are also on the bottle.) Since we’re adding five gallons of water to a basket on watering day that means we’ll be using10 tablespoons per treatment. This, we’ll do once per month.

The same helpful tip applies to Insect terminate as does Flower Power. Since it can be physically demanding to mix and pour five gallons try adding 10 tablespoons to the last gallon of that day’s water.

 

Now, we fertilize once per weekand we only add Insect terminate once per month but certainly theres a probability that this act of fertilizing and bug control will need to happen on the same day.Yes, we can add both Flower Power and Insect Terminate together in the last gallon of that day’s water.(They actually work synergistically.)

 

There is however, one last “bug” that isn’t affected by our remedy. It’s technically a caterpillar that’s been hatched from an egg laid by a whitish/brownish moth. It’s called a “budworm” (Heliothis virescens) because it quite literally devours buds of geraniums and petunias and calibrachoa (million bells). It has a voraciousappetite for blooms and can quite literally take a basket in full bloom to complete green in a matter of two days.

 

Here’s what it looks like:

 

The first signs of damage from the budworm is a single bloom that looks as if it has been shot with a BB gun. (It has a single or multiple holes.) Here’s the skinny for the Portland Metro area: Chances are near 100 percent that at some point in the summer season your plants will be affected by budworm.   Without a doubt, we have found that Budworm Terminate is the single most effective remedy.

 

It is a spray (one tablespoon into a quart sprayer) and both the foliage as well as the blooms (frontside and backside) should be sprayed until wet. The nice thing about this particular remedy? It’s completely human friendly and earth friendly.  We spray for budworm once per month.

 

Small piece of advice? Spray during the evening hours works best. Budworm is most active then though you need not have to spray the worm directly. It works on contact, yes, but it also works when they eat their next meal.

 

Side note here: You may find a day or two later budworm literally stopped in place. The spray works by using a natural bacteria (spinosad a and d) that effectively paralyzes them. No worries though. It’s completely safe for humans and animals (and its earth friendly).

 

So there you have it: Water consistently five gallons every other day. Fertilize with Flower Power once per week. Add Insect terminate to the water once per month and spray with Budworm terminate once per month.

 

You’ll find this little bit of upfront effort will pay you handsomely in an amazing, colorful, glorious and happy hanging basket.

 

Send any questions my way: jonn@thegardencorner.com

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