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Indoor Hanging Basket Care: How To Keep Indoor Hanging Plants

Indoor Hanging Basket Care: How To Keep Indoor Hanging Plants


By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Hangingbasket houseplants create beauty, interest, color, and a sense of peace andrelaxation in the home environment – when the plants are healthy. Indoor hangingbaskets aren’t quite as lovely when the plants inside them are overgrown,bedraggled, messy, or half dead. How do you care for hanging baskethouseplants? Read on for tips on indoor hanging basket care to keep your plantsgreen, healthy, and beautiful.

Growing Hanging Baskets Inside

Indoor hanging plants filled with damp potting mix tend tobe heavy, especially if the pots are clay or ceramic. Make sure hanging basketsin the home are securely attached to wall studs or ceiling beams. If you’reconcerned that the pot is still too heavy, you can mix the pottingsoil with perlite, which also improves drainage conditions. Keep in mind,however, that improved drainage means more frequent watering.

Place indoor hanging plants where they get adequate light,which depends on the needs of the plant. Plants that aren’t receiving enoughlight may display poor growth; small leaves; long, thin stems; or pale color.On the other hand, some plants will scorch in bright, direct sunlight. Too muchlight is generally portrayed by pale green or white leaves, leaves with brownor yellow edges, or wilting caused by excess heat and dry soil.

Watering hanging basket houseplants is the most difficultpart of growing hanging baskets inside. Invest in a long-necked watering canand keep a stool or stepladder handy. You can also water the plant in the sinkor shower. Remember that hanging baskets in the home dry out faster because theair is warmer and dryer near the ceiling. If you aren’t sure if it’s time to water,poke your finger into the soil and water the top inch (2.5 cm.) if potting mixfeels dry. Be sure to also water if the plant begins to wilt.

Fertilize hanging plants regularly, but only when the soilis moist. Fertilizing when the potting mix is dry can burn the plants quicklyand severely. Keep a close eye on your plants and provide maintenanceas needed to keep them healthy and looking their best. Trim dead leavesregularly and cut back wayward or unsightly growth.

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Read more about General Houseplant Care


If you’ve ever taken a vacation in a Disney park, or visited a summer resort, or walked down main street of the most charming small towns in America… you’ve probably been awed by some pretty amazing hanging basket planters. And let’s face it – you tried to reproduce said baskets, and failed miserably, right? We. Have. Been There. But then we learned these 5 success secrets for hanging baskets that make the pros “in the know”, and can make you the envy of your block. Yep, you really can have those lush, full, awe inspiring hanging flower baskets in your own garden with these tips and tricks!


Caring for Hanging Baskets

With the gardening season here, many people will soon be selecting hanging baskets to decorate their porches, decks, and other outdoor areas of the home. Hanging baskets, like other potted plants require special attention to perform their best.

Hanging baskets purchased from garden centers are usually planted in soilless planting mixes. These provide excellent drainage, aeration, and water holding capacity that ordinary garden soil can't supply. These mixes are also weed, disease, and insect free. In these mixes, the organic portion consists of combinations of peat moss, fir, pine, or hardwood bark, and/or redwood sawdust or shavings. The mineral portion consists of vermiculite, perlite, sand, or various combinations of these. Soilless mixes are lightweight which makes moving the basket easier. If you plant your own containers, soilless mixes are highly recommended and widely available.

Because the root systems of containerized plants are confined to a small area, it is necessary to pay close attention to watering. During a warm, sunny period some plants will require watering 2 or 3 times daily. The same plant during a cloudy, cool period may not require water for 2 or 3 days. Don't allow the plant to wilt. Some plants can come back from severe water stress with no problem, but the majority of plants will not. When watering, water thoroughly so that water drains from the bottom of the basket. If the plant has been allowed to dry excessively, place the basket in a bucket of water for an hour or so to return the moisture supply to the potting mix.

Fertilization is also very important. The root systems of container grown plants cannot go out in search of food so it must be provided on a regular basis. Several fertilizer forms are available. Water-soluble fertilizers work well, as do timed- release forms. Select the fertilizer form that works best for you and follow label directions for application rate. Fertilizers that are higher in nitrogen will produce vegetative growth rather than flowers. Fertilizers with a 1:2:1 ratio will keep plants growing and flowering well.

Deadheading is necessary to help flowering baskets blooming well. Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers as soon as they begin to decline. Once an annual flower blooms and sets seed, it has completed its lifecycle. By deadheading, the plant is unable to set seed and thus continues to produce flowers. Removal of spent flowers also improves the appearance of the plant. Periodic pruning or pinching back may also be necessary for some flowers to encourage branching and keep them full.

Site selection is as important for hanging baskets as it is for any other plant. For shade to part-shade locations select Impatiens, Begonia (both tuberous and wax), Sweet Alyssum, Lobelia, New Guinea Impatiens, Fuchsia, Pansy, Swan River Daisy, Nierembergia, and Bougainvillea for best results. For a bright sunny spot Black-eyed Susan, Geranium, Petunia, Nasturtium, Portulaca, Verbena, Dahlberg Daisy, and Annual Vinca work well.

These are just a few suggestions to help you and your hanging baskets through the upcoming summer. Experiment with some you've never tried before, the results may surprise you.

This article originally appeared in the April 8, 1992 issue, p. 50.


Planting a Moss-Lined Wire Basket

  • Soak the sphagnum moss overnight in very warm water.
  • Squeeze as much water out of the moss as you can. Pack the moss in between the wires tightly from the inside of the basket. Make moss lining 1 inch thick, extending up 4 inches.
  • Add soil mixture to basket, going up as far as the top of this first layer of moss.
  • Water plants well before planting. Crumble peat pots away from plants grown in them so that it will not wick water away from the roots. Pinch off flowers on new transplants to promote sturdy growth.
  • Fill the lowest tier with flowers or foliage plants, and then add enough potting soil mix to cover the roots of plants completely. Firm the soil.
  • Continue to fill and plant the basket in 4-to 6-inch layers. Plant the last group on top.
  • Hang the basket and water gently.

Fence box planter in full sun with calibrachoa, lilies, salvia, petunias and sweet potato vines.
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2016 HGIC, Clemson Extension


How to Care For Hanging Petunia Baskets

Cut a bloom or two to bring inside for a splash of bright summer color indoors.

A large hanging basket filled with colorful petunias is one of the most popular ways to adorn porches and decks. These beautiful baskets pop with vivid colors and stay attractive all summer long with minimal care. Whereas earlier varieties required extensive deadheading of the spent blossoms, newer petunia varieties need only a little shaping here and there to keep them looking lovely throughout the entire growing season.

Hang the petunia basket in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sun each day for best results.

Water the hanging petunias daily, especially in the heat of the summer. To determine whether petunias need water, insert your finger 1 inch into the soil of the hanging basket. If the soil feels dry, provide water until it runs out the drainage hole in the bottom of the basket.

  • A large hanging basket filled with colorful petunias is one of the most popular ways to adorn porches and decks.
  • To determine whether petunias need water, insert your finger 1 inch into the soil of the hanging basket.

Rotate the hanging basket 180 degrees every week so that the petunia plants receive equal direct sunlight and the petunias will not grow in a lopsided fashion.

Fertilize the petunia plants with the liquid fertilizer once every two weeks. Mix the liquid fertilizer with water following the directions on the fertilizer package for the size of your petunia basket. If the soil is dry prior to fertilizing, provide water first and then drench with fertilizer. This will prevent root burning from the fertilizer.

Pinch back the petunias if you want them to be more compact and bushy. Approximately halfway through the summer, petunias begin to get overgrown and leggy. Trim off half of any overgrown stems with the garden shears to bring the petunia back into a more compact shape. Sometimes petunias benefit from a bit of shade for a few days after being pruned in this fashion.

  • Rotate the hanging basket 180 degrees every week so that the petunia plants receive equal direct sunlight and the petunias will not grow in a lopsided fashion.
  • Sometimes petunias benefit from a bit of shade for a few days after being pruned in this fashion.

Do not worry about deadheading the petunia blossoms because the new petunia varieties do not require deadheading.


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