By Ashleigh Smith, True Leaf Market
Photographs courtesy of True Leaf Market
Flower gardens are one of my favorite parts of summer. I try to fit flowers in wherever possible. One of the best ways to add an impressive show of blooms is by using hanging baskets and other planters. Planters are easy to spread throughout patio and balcony spaces. Window boxes are perfect for getting a subtle rush of floral scents while the windows are open. Hanging baskets can be hung to extend your flower show vertically. Combine the ideal containers, soil, amendments, and plants for the perfect garden escape all season long.
What makes a good hanging basket or planter? One that fits plenty of plants, drains well and looks good. Anytime you are growing in a container, it is important that there be a way for excess water to drain out. When roots sit in standing water for too long, they can rot. This is called “damping off” when it happens to a new seedling. While roots need water to survive, they also need air provided through pore space in the soil. Without drainage holes in the containers, the water will backfill into this pore space without an escape.
In addition to growing healthy plants, you should be able to fit many plants in your container! I have found that the best container for fitting a high volume of flowers, herbs or vegetables is one that fits plants on the top and sides. Bloom Master hanging baskets and boxes do a great job of this. They allow for a total display of cascading blooms that consumes the entire container. These are great options for camouflaging walls and fences, as well as for adding color to the house. You can even expand your vegetable and herb gardens vertically by growing a variety of leafy greens and herbs all in one basket.
In order to get the big, healthy blooms you want in a container, it is important to consider the quality of the soil being used. Containers typically lose water much more quickly than garden plots and raised beds because they have less soil to retain water over time. Regions that experience hot and dry summers should pay special attention to what growing mediums they use. There are several ways to keep your plants hydrated between waterings. Adding organic matter to your soil mix can help as it naturally holds onto more water than native soils do. Organic materials include coconut coir, peat moss and compost.
In addition to organic matter, other amendments such as perlite, Retain water crystals and vermiculite can help retain water as well. I like to use a mix of these materials to create a balanced environment for healthy root development. For example, the max water retention mix uses a combination of nutrient-infused Minute Soil+ coco coir, perlite, and Retain water retention crystals. The benefit of using a mix like this is that your plants have plenty of water that is slow to evaporate. Perlite also helps promote pore space as it expands with water absorption, leaving healthy space for the roots as its water is used.
Any plant grown in a hanging basket will be beautiful, but I find that cascading blooms are especially stunning. When cascading flowers are paired with a multi-sided basket, like the Bloom Master basket or planter box, the container completely disappears into a flood of flowing flowers. Some of the best cascading flowers include petunias, pansies, begonia, bacopa, lobelia, and verbena. While these are great for a cascading look, many other flowers can be used in hanging baskets.
For upright types, I like to use a coco fiber pot. These can be placed into wire pot hangers for quick and easy patio decor. They also help retain moisture, drain well and are a great sustainable option. Coco fiber containers are slow to compost, allowing you to get multiple uses out of them. For an edible basket, add an assortment of your favorite herbs. Leafy greens are also great options for container growing. Tired of the same old lettuce? Grow a salad garden full of different flavors, textures and colors. Just remember to keep leafy greens out of the afternoon summer heat. Hot temperatures can cause leafy greens to bolt and become bitter in flavor. Growing them on a porch or balcony with partial shade or indirect light can help them stay fresh and sweet throughout the season.
Whether you are growing on a small porch or a large patio, you can enjoy the showy blooms of a cascading flower basket all season long. To keep things exciting, try changing out your summer flowers for some fall bloomers. But most importantly, keep them hydrated with a good soil mixture. For the fullest-looking flower basket, use a multi-sided container with cascading varieties of flowers. Or grow your favorite leafy greens and herbs in small spaces to be enjoyed all season long. Learn more: www.trueleafmarket.com
Ashleigh Smith is the Managing Editor at True Leaf Market with a bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. True Leaf Market is a national certified organic, non-GMO seed and horticultural company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The True Leaf Market staff specializes in supplying a large selection of conventional, heirloom and organic seeds to home gardeners everywhere. Learn more about our seeds, supplies and other growing ideas: www.trueleafmarket.com.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Heirloom Roses
Photographs courtesy of Heirloom Roses
In many areas of the country this is an excellent time to prune roses. Although rose pruning may seems daunting, it’s not hard to learn and the results are well worth the effort. For an informative article on rose pruning, click here .
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