Hanging baskets can increase turnover as an add on to plant sales and are a great source of colour at eye level - but are often over looked at this time of year. This is mainly because the production team is rushing around trying to slow plants down, speed them up, pick out vine weevil grubs, spray for aphids, turn the heating on, off and on again and trying not to get too depressed when it rains... again!
Planting baskets up in early spring (April onwards) will increase rooting and allow plants to become established, but will need to be protected from frost until the end of May in most areas.
Some baskets come pre-lined with plastic, or you can use cardboard, woolmoss or fibrous material liners, which are all suitable for professional baskets. Moss can be used but is increasingly being substituted for the more readily available fibre liners. For the best results, try and use a liner that will hold as much moisture as possible to avoid baskets drying out.
For summer baskets, the most popular plants are Fuchsia, Impatiens, Pelargoniums, Begonia, Lobelia, Viola, Petunia, Dichondria and Salvia to name but a few. However, Buxus, Conifers, Cordaline and Ivy can be added as a centre piece, adding interest if variable height is required.
Growing media and nutrition
The ideal growing media for hanging baskets is Levington M2 Pot and Bedding, with 1.6kg base feed per m3. This gives plants a great start. Please note, if used with controlled release fertilizer (CRF) the base is reduced to 1.2kg per m3. If used with Osmocote Exact tablets plants get a much needed boost about 4-6 weeks after planting. Easy to use and convenient, they deliver very accurate nutrient release simplifying the feeding programme and helping to give baskets real wow factor!
The cone-shaped tablets, available as 5g or 7.5g depending on your basket size, are simply pushed into the growing media when the basket is planted up. Different colour-coded longevities are available; brown for 5-6 month and blue for 8-9 month. A high K version is also available in 5-7.5g 8-9 month.
These tablets give consistent nutrient release, reassuringly delivering the same results time after time so there is little chance of under or over feeding and the tablets won’t burn or damage roots.
It is a good idea to monitor baskets daily, if possible, until familiar with the nature of the growing media. Baskets should be moist but not soggy. Adding H2Gro granules to aid water retention, at 100g per m3, will simplify the water management – reducing the watering required saving time and money.
Along with vine weevils, slugs and aphids, there is also the need to watch out for powdery mildew, pelargonium rust, impatiens downy mildew and fuchsia rust. Talk to your ICL Technical Area Sales person if you have concerns regarding any of these issues and we will be more than happy to help you find a solution.