The Q&A Archives: baskets in hot shade

Question: I have a large covered front porch. No Direct sun and face north but gets very hot in summer due to our extreme heat. Want to grow annual herbs but nothing survives. Any suggestions please?

Answer: Part of the problem with growing plants in hanging baskets is that the root systems can dry out quickly. The root system in a basket-grown plant is more exposed to wind, so it dries out faster than if it were growing in the ground or even in pots at ground level. Also, gardeners typically use a lightweight (and often soilless) potting medium that loses moisture quickly. One answer is to mix topsoil one-third to one-half by volume with your favorite potting soil, making it heavier and better able to retain water and nutrients. Use sterilized topsoil to avoid the risk of introducing weed seeds, pathogens and even insects. Some plants to try are Achimenes. Some of the more common purple-flowered forms can be naturalized in the garden. They grow best with morning sun and afternoon shade but will do fine in partial shade, perhaps blooming a bit less prolifically. Flower colors include pink, blue, lavender and white as well as spotted and picotee varieties. Double varieties tend to be less vigorous. In fall when leaves begin to yellow, simply store the containers in the garage for the winter. Come spring, drag them out, water and fertilize.

Impatiens. Our shade gardens would be dull without this flower. Colors include red, orange, pink, white, lavender and various bicolors.

Begonias. Rex begonias, angel wing begonias and even the wax-leaf sorts can be grown in shade or partial shade.

Your garden center probably has even more choices for your hanging baskets.

Best wishes!

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