One of the best ways to save big on your gardening budget is to start and grow your own hanging baskets from seed. Even better, it allows you the opportunity to grow some of the most unique and beautiful baskets around!
Hanging baskets are one of the most expensive purchases that gardeners make every spring. For a sizable basket you can often expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $70 and up. And unfortunately, that price range continues to climb even more with each passing season!
However, by growing your own plants directly from seed, you can create baskets for a fraction of the cost. Even better, they can be stunning varieties that are often hard to find or even unavailable in local stores and greenhouses. But the advantages of planting your own baskets don’t end there!
By growing plants from seed and creating your own hanging baskets, you also have the advantage of controlling the soil make-up and size of your basket. And those two factors are extremely important in how well hanging baskets grow, and for how long they can stay growing strong all through the growing season.
As you will see below, planting in the right soil and selecting the right-sized container are two of the biggest factors in the success of flowering baskets. And when you grow your own baskets – you can all but ensure you will have the best hanging baskets on the block!
How To Start Hanging Baskets From Seed With Ease
Starting your own flowers from seed indoors is easier than you might think. And the process doesn’t require expensive equipment nor a big investment in time. All it really takes is following a few simple and timely steps, the first of which happens to be starting your seeds indoors early.
Many gardeners start and grow their vegetable and flower seeds indoors. And for the most part, those seeds can be planted anywhere from six to eight weeks before they need to be planted outdoors.
But when growing flowers for hanging baskets, that process needs to start earlier. In fact, it needs to start much earlier! Most commercial greenhouses actually start planting their hanging baskets in December. Why? Because in order to have those big, beautiful baskets for spring buyers, the plants need plenty of time to grow.
Unfortunately, because commercial basket planting takes place so early, they often outgrow containers by mid-summer. But when you grow your own, you can account for that and create baskets that last all season long.
When To Start Flowers For Hanging Baskets
So how early do you need to start your seeds for hanging baskets? To be sure to have strong, healthy baskets by spring, you will need to start your seeds about 10 to 12 weeks before the last usual frost date in your area.
Unlike bedded flowering annuals and vegetable garden plants, hanging baskets are easy to bring indoors when frost threatens. This means they can be started much earlier in the year indoors to take advantage of the warm and sunny days in between frosts.
By allowing them more outdoor time early, they have more ability to fill out. But by starting them just 10 to 12 weeks prior to full outdoor life, they will be the perfect size to still look good, and still have plenty of growing life all summer long!
Starting Seeds – How To Start Hanging Baskets From Seed
The easiest way to start seeds for your hanging baskets are in traditional seed trays. If you have the room, they can certainly be started directly in the baskets. Although this eliminates an extra step, it can be hard to give large baskets enough indoor light early on – so seed trays are usually the better choice.
Listen In To Our Podcast On How To Grow Amazing Hanging Baskets
Remember, these plants have to be started far earlier than other vegetable or flower plants. But the good news is you can start them first, then at the four or six week mark plant them into your baskets. That also gives plenty of time to have the room to plant any additional seedlings for your garden or flowerbeds indoors.
Before we get into the basket planting stage, let’s first take a look at how to start seedlings off right. After all, healthy baskets begin with healthy plants!
Seeds, Lighting & Heat – How To Start Hanging Baskets From Seed
For starters, always select fresh, quality flower seeds. Be sure as well to order your seeds early to have a good selection. Ordering early also ensures you have seeds on hand in plenty of time to start early. Check Out: Eden Brothers Annual Flower Seeds
There is no need for special equipment or heating pads to start flower (or vegetable) seeds indoors. A couple of inexpensive fluorescent or LED 4′ shop bulbs are more than enough light for seedlings to grow plants with ease.
One thing you don’t want to do when growing hanging baskets from seed is to start your plants in a windowsill. There is simply not enough light, and plants will grow leggy and weak.
When using shop light bulbs, simply keep the lights close at 1 to 1-1/2″ from the top of the plants as they grow. If you do happen to start your seeds directly in baskets, you can place the lights right over top of the baskets as they grow.
As for heat, seeds will germinate and grow indoors as long as the temperatures are above 60 to 65°(F). There really is no need for a heat mat as long as the room you select is warm enough.
Transplanting And Growing Your Baskets Indoors – How To Start Hanging Baskets From Seed
When seedlings get to about six weeks of age, it’s time to get them into their basket. By planting at this point, the small transplants have time to root easily in their final soil.
As daytime temperatures start to warm, set baskets outside in increasing intervals. This step helps plants adjust to outdoor life slowly. Even more, taking them out during warm stretches also helps baskets fill out at a much faster pace.
Fertilizing Baskets For Success – How To Start Hanging Baskets From Seed
No matter how great your potting soil is, hanging baskets need to be fertilized. The nutrients in even the best of potting soils will only last for so long. But when fertilizing hanging baskets, especially early on, the key is to power them consistently, but low and slow.
If you provide too much fertilizer at one time, plants use the energy to grow too many roots and too much foliage. With too little, they simply don’t have the power to grow and produce blooms. So how much is enough?
Fertilizing regularly with a weak solution of liquid organic fertilizer is the ultimate recipe for success. A light solution applied every two weeks works well to keep plants at their best, but without overpowering them.
Unfortunately, this is the issue with many commercially sold hanging baskets. They are given huge doses of fertilizer early on in an effort to fill them out for sale. The only issue is by the time the consumer gets them, the roots and plants are too big to last an entire season.
It’s just one more reason that growing your own might be the best choice of all! As for the weak solution, use one-third to one-half of the recommended dose. That keeps the growing slow and steady without being too overpowering.
A Few Final Tips For Success
When it comes to growing and raising your own hanging baskets, there are a few additional tips that will go a long way to ensuring success.
At the top of the list is selecting a quality potting soil mix for your baskets. A great potting soil needs to be lightweight, loose, and filled with nutrients as plants grow. There are many great choices now on the market, but you can also make your own incredibly fertile and healthy mix with a few simple ingredients. (See : How To Make Great Potting Soil At Home)
In addition, make sure you are selecting plants that are appropriate for where you want to hang and grow them. Full sun plants won’t preform well in shade no matter how good the soil is. Nor will shade-loving plants handle full sun.
Finally, proper watering of your baskets is another must to keep them healthy and strong from start to finish. Never allow your baskets to dry out for long periods of time between watering. Just as important, be careful not to overwater and water log your plant’s roots.
So get those seeds ordered early, and get ready to grow your own stunning hanging baskets from seed this year and save big!
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