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Easy Care Tips for Containers and Hanging Baskets


Containers and hanging baskets will dry out more quickly than your garden beds. The pot’s exposure to drying winds, the sun, and limited space for moisture-retaining soil means a little extra attention to watering is in order. You will want to water containers and baskets as soon as the top inch to two inches of soil is dry. If containers and baskets are allowed to dry out too much, or all the way, the soil will pull away from the edges of the container. When this happens, water the container thoroughly and slowly to keep much of the water from passing through that gap and out the bottom of the container. You may need to water dry containers several times to thoroughly moisten the soil.

Never let containers sit in standing water. It’s fine to place an overly dry pot in water to allow the roots and soil to wick up the water. Once the pot is well saturated, remove from the standing water and allow the excess water to completely run out.

Make sure all containers have drainage holes! Spot watering is not an option! When you are selecting plants for your container gardens, choose those that share the same water, light, and fertilization requirements. Sometimes we take liberties in the garden and tuck in a few thirsty plants in with more water-conservative plants. In a garden bed, where it is easy to spot water a plant, we can often get away with this little ‘cheat’. Not so much with container gardens.

Increase watering as the season progresses. Your plants are thriving in their containers, their roots are filling in all the space within the pot and the light potting mix is starting to decay and wash away. All of this is calling for more watering! Don’t be surprised if you need to water once in the morning and again at night in the heat of the summer.

KNOW HOW! TIP: When watering at night, avoid soaking the leaves of the plants.

Dark pots get hot!

The darker the container the hotter the soil will be within, especially with containers in sunny locations. Choose pots that are lighter in color and provide sun-loving plants a bit of cool shade in the hottest time of the day.

Helpful tools

Why struggle with a hose or worse yet; taking a hanging basket down each time to water? A watering wand with a long neck is a gardener’s best friend. Ideal for reaching hanging baskets, targeting plants within a garden, or filling bird baths, a watering wand with a rain head attachment allows for gentle watering; preferable over blasting pots, baskets, and gardens with a hard stream of water.


Feed Me! When planting your containers, incorporate a slow-release fertilizer. As the season progresses, start fertilizing every other week, per the manufacturer’s instructions. All the watering your containers will receive will flush the fertilizer out of the soil. Because you were wise and selected plants with the same fertilizer requirements, knowing when and how much to feed your containers will be easy for you.

Good Grooming

Your container and hanging baskets will benefit from regular editing, trimming, and deadheading. As the season progresses, some plants can get lanky. Trim anything that vines. If a plant gets overwhelmed by its neighbors, either pull it and give it a container of its own, or trim back the more aggressive plants. The desired look of your container will dictate which task is best for you. And of course, don’t forget to deadhead spent blooms!

Mixing it Up

Full sun is easy, full shade a snap, but what about plants that like it a bit in the middle?

Full Sun: If your plants are full sun and you live where it can get quite hot, your plants will thank you for a bit of shade in the hottest part of the day. Remember, the soil in containers and especially hanging baskets can dry out and get hot quickly in the full, hot sun.

Shade Containers: Shade does not mean dark! Even shade plants like a little sun or dappled light. A sure sign your plants could do with a bit more light are signs of stretching or reaching towards the light.

Part Sun/Part Shade: Good rule of thumb, start with morning sun and afternoon shade. Very few plants want to bake in the full, hot afternoon sun. If your part-sun plants are languishing a bit, extend their time in the sun.

A final hint for good measure: Keep it small and keep it portable. One of the great benefits of container gardens is that you can move them. Tuck them into a bare spot in the garden, rearrange them up the steps to your front door, or create a focal point in the garden; a portable garden is an amazing design tool in any garden space. Place large containers on casters for easy moving across a patio or deck. Speaking of patios and decks, it is great fun to have a lot of smaller pots to move about as the plants grow or to change the look of the patio/deck garden. The more smaller container gardens you have, the more design flexibility you are afforded.


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