Perfecting your summer baskets
Summer baskets filled with an array of bedding plants such as geraniums, petunias and begonias etc bring colour and interest to any garden. Once you have planted up/ purchased your baskets you will want to enjoy them throughout the season and extend their lifespan for as long as possible. With just a little bit of regular maintenance you can ensure that your displays are the envy of all the neighbours!
Check baskets daily for watering requirements (the basket will need watering if the compost feels dry to touch). During very hot or windy weather you may need to water them twice a day, making sure that the compost is soaked through. Try not to water during the hottest part of the day - mornings and evening times are the best times to water if possible. Check baskets even if it has rained, as much of the water may run off during showers and might not have reached the roots. Automatic drip irrigation systems are also available and are a useful alternative to hand watering, especially if you have a lot of baskets and containers.
Feeding your baskets is essential to keep your displays looking at their best throughout the summer and ensuring that the plants receive the correct nutrients to keep them strong and healthy. Baskets that had a slow release fertiliser added when planting up should be fed weekly from July onwards with a liquid tomato feed that is diluted to half strength. Apply the liquid fertiliser directly to the compost as leaf contact can lead to scorching. If no slow release fertiliser was added then use the liquid feed at every other watering.
Deadhead fading blooms regularly to keep displays looking attractive, encourage new flowers and prolong displays. Gently pinch off faded blooms with the stalks to ensure the baskets look tidy and direct energy into the plants for stronger growth and the production of more flowers. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves while doing this.