We all love the look of hanging baskets on a porch or under a trellis. You might have great luck with other container plants, but your thumb turns black when you’ve tried to nurture hanging baskets. They are not difficult to build or maintain if you follow just a few guidelines.
Where you put your hanging baskets makes such a difference. If you want to fill in and give height to an outdoor walkway or any skinny strip of land in your yard, you can buy a tall iron shepherd’s hook at most home improvement centers. It should hold your creation well and show it off. Giving this kind of vertical interest is difficult with ground plantings.
You can add as many hanging baskets as you need to create some fun. If you repeat matching or similar hanging baskets, you create a story and make a strong statement, just as mass plantings of one plant can do for your outdoor spaces. Remember to take the hanging baskets down if we have a major windy storm on the way. Water more often than you think. Hanging baskets dry out quickly.
By adjusting the location of hanging baskets, you can keep them happy with their needs for sun and shade. A basket that needed to be under a tree in August can probably be pulled out into a different part of your yard in the fall.
One of the problems with hanging baskets is that the structure on which they are hung often prevents much of the sun that flowering hanging baskets crave. Maybe you can adjust the chain height to give your basket some morning or afternoon sun. Turning the baskets around every couple of day keeps them blooming evenly on all sides. Trailing plants are usually a good idea for your hanging basket because they hide the basket itself as they begin growing. Remember to put plants into the basket that will tolerate the conditions where the basket is hung.
Two handy gadgets are available to help you care for your hanging baskets. A swivel link instead of just a hook will make it simple to rotate your plant around without taking it down. A pulley available from www.charleysgreenhouse.com  is great. No more lifting the watering can or hose high in the air to water. The plant will pull down easily with the pulley.
Since watering is the biggest chore with hanging baskets it may be a good idea to wedge a large plastic trash bag full of holes into a mid-layer of the soil in the basket. Use the best soil possible. Some of the soils have moisture crystals in them if you search local gardening centers. Leave an inch or so of space above the soil near the rim of the container for watering. Depending on the plants you use, keep the pot moist and fertilize often. The planting area may be shallow, so choose plants wisely. Enjoy!
For your calendar
The Council of Garden Clubs Holiday Fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7, at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive in Beaumont. The event begins with a 6 p.m. wine tasting in the conservatory, followed by dinner from Two Magnolias at 7. Tickets are $40 per person. Proceeds benefit the gardens. There will be door prizes, a raffle and silent auction. RVSP by Nov. 21 to bcgc@beaumontbotanical gardens.org.