There is no better way to keep your hanging baskets healthy, vibrant and blooming strong than by fertilizing them at the right time, and with the right fertilizer!
The soil inside of a hanging basket container is simply unable to contain enough energy to sustain quality plant life for an entire season. In fact, even soil in the largest of baskets will eventually run out of power by mid-season.
Impatiens, petunias, geraniums and other big flowering annuals can produce hundreds of flowers at a time on top of their foliage. But to do so, they draw a tremendous amount of nutrients from the soil where they grow.
Unfortunately, the more foliage, blooms and flowers a plant produces, the more nutrients disappear from that soil. The end result for a hanging basket is that by mid-summer, there simply isn’t enough energy left to keep plants strong and healthy.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! By simply providing plants with the nutrients they need most, you can keep hanging baskets vibrant and flowering well into fall.
With that in mind, lets take a look at how to give your baskets the energy they need to survive by fertilizing them with the right dose of nutrients, in the right form, and at just the right time!
The Simple Secrets To Fertilizing Hanging Baskets
The key to fertilizing hanging baskets and container plants correctly is with a slow, steady approach.
All potted annual plants will eventually need to be fertilized in order to keep their strength and vitality. But it is how, when, and what dose you provide those nutrients that is the secret to success. Slow and steady really does win the race in this case.
Plants that receive infrequent or ultra weak doses of fertilizer will ultimately run out of steam. First, the bloom sets will weaken. After that, the foliage will as well. Before you know it, you are left with a sad, wiry plant.
However, providing too many nutrients too fast will cause issues too. Plants that receive excessive jolts of energy use that power to grow excessive foliage, and not more blooms.
In addition, they expand their roots too quickly as well. The end result is a plant that becomes root-bound. And once a plant becomes root-bound, it will require even more frequent watering and fertilizer. It creates a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to an early demise for the plant.
The Power of Low & Slow – How To Fertilize Hanging Baskets For Success
There are two ways to provide nutrients to hanging baskets. You can use a slow-release granular fertilizer, or a liquid version. But for the absolute best results, a two-prong approach of both works wonders!
Slow Release Granular Fertilizing
Slow release granular fertilizers work by releasing nutrients in a low dose over a long period of time. By adding a slow-release granular fertilizer to the soil in your baskets every month, you can keep the soil supplied with a good supply of basic energy.
One of the best ways to provide this type of energy is with worm castings. They are actually the perfect low & slow fertilizer.
They break down slowly, leaching their nutrients into the soil in such a way that the plant’s roots can soak it in easily. A quarter to a half cup of castings placed monthly on the soil of hanging baskets will do the trick.
If you prefer a more traditional granular fertilizer, use a fertilizer with a balanced, lower strength formula. Fertilizers in the 4-4-4 to 8-8-8 range (NPK) are best. Products links to each are below:
Liquid fertilizers make the perfect partner to granular slow release fertilizers. In liquid from, the nutrients are absorbed quickly and easily. Not only via the roots in the soil, but through the leaves and stems as well.
The plants take the nutrients in fast in liquid form, and the nutrients quickly begin to feed and help the plant. It’s a process that granular fertilizers can’t compete with, and exactly why using a combination of the two works so well.
The slow release granular fertilizer works to provide a steady stream of low-dose nutrients to keep the plant healthy. Meanwhile, applying a liquid fertilizer every 10 to 14 days provides a light but quick boost that plants can use to power new blooms.
The Best Liquid Fertilizers For Hanging Baskets
When it comes to powering you baskets with liquid fertilizer, it is important to select one that will not be too powerful or strong, but yet still contains a good enough supply of nutrients to energize your plants.
With that in mind, here are 3 of the best choices of all to use when you need to apply a liquid fertilizer to your hanging baskets:
Compost tea is an incredible all-purpose liquid fertilizer. And because of that, it truly is one of the best for fertilizing hanging baskets and container plants. Even better, it can be made for free!
To create, simply mix a few shovel-fulls of fresh compost in a 5 gallon bucket. Allow the mix to steep for a few days. Be sure to stir the mixture a few times each day to help the water absorb the nutrients from the compost. See: How To Make Homemade Compost Tea
To use, simply strain the mixture and water your plants as you would for a regular watering. It really is that easy! The nutrients are absorbed both by the foliage and the roots, and your plants will have strong, steady and beautiful growth.
Worm Casting Tea
Worm castings can make an excellent slow-release fertilizer, or a powerful liquid one too. This tea is made in the same fashion as compost tea, but using worm castings in place of the compost.
To make, place 1/2 cup of castings into 1 gallon of water. Stir or shake well, and allow it to steep for 24 hours. To use, simply shake one final time and water your plants with the tea as you normally would for a regular watering.
The beauty is there is no need to strain the castings. They can be poured on the plants right with the water, and with no worry of burning or harming the plants. In fact, they will only help release more nutrients as they break down.
If compost or worm casting tea are not options for you, you can also use a good quality commercial liquid fertilizer.
Look for a liquid soluble fertilizer in the 4-4-4 to 8-8-8 (NPK) nutrient range. This will provide quick power in its liquid form, but not too much to overpower the plant. Product Link: Organic Liquid Soluble Fertilizer
Final Thoughts – Fertilizing Hanging Baskets
By using a low and slow two-prong approach to keeping your hanging baskets powered, not only will you extend your plants life, but its bloom cycles as well. In fact, in most cases, not just though summer, but right into fall too.
Here is to keeping your baskets strong and vibrant from spring until fall!
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