The Q&A Archives: Proper plants for hanging baskets

Question: We hang 8 plants in baskets on back patio in full sun. What are the best plants for this? Last year, all the plants sufferred badly.

Answer: A hanging basket in full hot afternoon sun is a real challenge. As you have discovered, they dry out quickly, especially as the summer goes on and the weather gets warmer combined with the fact that the plants have grown larger and thus increased their need for water as a result. Many gardeners find it necessary to water twice a day without fail under these conditions. There are several steps you can take to try to make the situation better. One is to increase the pot size to accommodate the larger plants, one is to rotate several pots with newer more vigorous plants to take the place of the stressed ones, another is to use a more water retentive soil mix and to consider adding one of the new water retentive polymers to it. Double potting can also help to insulate the plant roots from the heat. Finally, plant selection can make a difference. Some plants for hot sun might include flowering annual vinca, portulaca, verbena, pentas, and nasturtiums as well as the small black eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia) or perhaps the new decorative potato and sweet potato vines make attractive baskets. Herbs can also make attractive foliage plants, so you might consider the trailing forms of thyme or perhaps fragrant herbs such as curry plant for a less tradtional touch. Best wishes with your hanging baskets!

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