Hanging baskets have become a mainstay in the home landscape. Gardeners attach these beautiful floral displays to pillars, porches, decks or gazebos. Hanging basket plants serve as a transitional tool between the outdoor living space and the garden. Hanging basket plants spend their lives in a confined environment and require different care than their garden-bound neighbors. Choosing the correct plants for hanging baskets creates a unique container garden that adds intrigue and beauty to the home landscape.
The beauty of hanging baskets is in the gardener's ability to add virtually any plant to the container. Base plant selection on the intended location of the hanging plant. Tailor choices to match sunlight exposure to limit plant stress. In mixed hanging baskets, use plants with similar growing requirements. Look for interesting foliage or trailing growth tendencies to accentuate planter design and form. Choose hanging basket plants that add height to the container. Use the available space above the soil and below the rim of the planter to create vertical interest for the hanging basket.
Choose a single specimen for center stage in the hanging basket. The plant can be a dramatic foliage plant, such as a caladium or a flowering geranium. This focal point allows the gardener to build around a central theme to create cohesion in the planter. All plants in the container should complement the focal point.
Color is a powerful decorating tool. When blending hanging basket plants, choose similar shades to limit the shock value of a container. Mix similar hues such as greens and blues. Avoid pairing pastels with bright primary colors. Add foliage plants to create contrast without overpowering the container. Monochrome hanging baskets use a single color to create a stunning display of foliage in a single floral display. Remember that color display should be natural to make the planter blend with the outdoor living space.
Plants benefit from high-quality soil. Hanging basket plants live in a small environment that do not receive the constant addition of new organic material. Reusing old potting soil places new hanging basket plants at a disadvantage. Frequent watering causes the leaching of nutrients out the bottom of the hanging container. This stripping of nutrients renders potting soil less useful over time. Fresh potting soil provides nutrients built into the mixture to stimulate plant growth and provides the best possible environment for new cultivars.
Hanging basket plants need regular watering to maintain soil moisture levels. Properly designed planters feature drainage holes to limit pooling of water around plant roots. Water should drain freely from the bottom of the hanging basket. This easy drainage causes limitations on the potting soil's ability to retain water. Monitor hanging basket plants by sticking one finger into the soil. If it feels moist to a depth of 2 inches, check again the next day. Light, fluffy or gray-colored surface soil always indicates the need for water.