"Consider the weight of your container when deciding where it will hang."
Hanging baskets are a great way to add color and take advantage of a vertical space. They're also easy to maintain if you follow a few simple steps. The key is to select the right container and potting mix, watering wisely and keeping up with their care and repair. Read Caring for Annuals for tips on watering, feeding and more.
Consider basket size and weight
Large containers have the advantage of accommodating larger, lush plants and a larger amount of soil. They also help keep roots moist longer, so you don't have to water as often as you would small pots. But consider the weight of your container when you're deciding where it will hang. Heavy pots, such as pottery and clay, need a lot of support and big hooks since they can weigh anywhere from 25-50 pounds when filled with soil and plants.
Go for quality
It's important to use a lightweight, soil-free potting mix specially formulated for container plants. Look for a mix that includes water-holding crystals or add the crystals yourself. Try Scotts Premium Potting Soil. You can also add a slow-release fertilizer to help ensure your plants receive an ongoing supply of nutrients. Try Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.
Once your hanging basket is planted, keep it moist, but not dripping wet. Water only when your plants need it. To assess if water is needed, put your index finger two knuckles deep into the center of the basket. It's a good sign if the top of the soil is dry but there is still moisture inside the basket. If the center feels as moist as a damp sponge, don't water. If it feels only slightly moist, water it thoroughly, right to the rim, until water runs out the bottom. Use a Magnifying Rain Gauge, available at The Home Depot, to gauge how much moisture your baskets have before you water.
Signs of overwatering
Common symptoms of overwatering (besides soggy soil) include yellowing leaves on the lower and inner parts the plant, and wilting leaves. To check whether the roots show rot, remove the plant from the pot. Tip the basket upside down and gently tap out the root ball. If there is no damage, you will see a nice network of plump, white roots, which should resist pressure if you pry on the root ball. If the root ball is shrunken, return it to the basket. Then rather than watering, instead try an hour of soaking to rewet the root ball and avoid mere runoff. This will return the plant to health.
Deadhead and feed to promote growth
If you don't deadhead regularly, the developing seed heads will prevent new bud growth. Trim back the plants to remove all seedy growth. A balanced liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro applied on a weekly basis also helps promote growth.