After I had my hanging baskets for a while, I noticed they would dry out almost every day. So, I researched how to keep them from drying out and put together this article to explain it.
To keep your hanging baskets from drying out you will need to use mulch on the surface of the soil. Mulch protects the surface of the soil from the sun and keeps your soil moist for longer. You can also use water retaining materials such as peat moss, coco peat, or hydrogel to retain water for longer.
There are different types of mulch you can use, and other things you can do to keep your soil moist. I’ve explained these things in a lot more detail below, so keep reading.
How do I keep the soil in my hanging baskets moist?
The ideal way is to use mulch and a water-retaining material such as peat moss, or water retention crystals. You could also include an automated drip irrigation system.
You should use one of these three or a combination depending on how hot your climate is.
Mulch is an organic plant matter that sits on the top of the soil and protects it from the sun. It also slowly drips nutrients into your soil over time. There are a few types of mulch you can use.
Shredded wood chips are a popular medium to use as a mulch. In a natural forest leaves, and branches fall down on the forest floor and fertilize the soil.
Wood chips do this as well as provide cover from the sun which can quickly dry out the surface of the soil on a sunny day.
Wood chips feed worms that do wonders for your soil. Wood chips also soak up the water and take a long time to dry, providing consistent moisture to the soil.
Stones or rocks
River stones or nice looking rocks can be placed on the surface of the soil. For hanging baskets, you should choose rocks that are quite thin.
If you don’t the rocks will be quite heavy and can weigh down your hanging baskets. This will cause more wear and tear on your hanging basket when it is attached to a roof, tree, or overhang.
Any other plant material
If you have any other organic material like leaves, twigs, and grass clippings, you can use these as an effective mulch.
When the soil warms up and begins to evaporate it collects on the bottom of your mulch and drips back down.
Water retaining materials
There are water retaining materials such as peat moss and water-retaining crystals, which increase the time it takes for your soil to dry out.
Peat moss or sphagnum moss is often used to line the bottom of a hanging basket. It holds around 10x times its weight in water. It stays wet for a long time and keeps your soil wet.
Water retaining crystals, hydrogels, are specially designed polymers for holding large amounts of water. The chemical structure allows them to hold about 300 to 400 times their weight in water, which gets slowly released into the soil.
According to Gardeningknowhow.com, they may or may not be safe to use because they can release toxins in the soil.
If you are growing flowers in your hanging baskets it won’t be an issue. But if you are growing vegetables you should avoid hydrogels, because you may ingest harmful chemicals.
You can get devices that run on a timer and turn your irrigation system on and off. These can be good in the summer when you usually need to water your hanging baskets a lot.
Installing an irrigation system for your hanging baskets is an easy way to automate your watering. They are easy to install and last a long time.
The weather influences how much water your hanging baskets will need. With an automatic watering device on your irrigation system, you can adjust how long your plants will get watered.
You can also get drip watering systems like those used to feed pet animals like rabbits. They are a water bottle that is turned upside down that has a special slow-release fixture on the lid that adds water slowly to the soil. These can be a real time-saver in summer.
How often should I water my hanging baskets?
The way to tell when you should water your hanging baskets is by testing the soil with your hand or fingers. Press your fingers into the soil down to about the second knuckle.
If your finger feels dry and you don’t feel any moisture in the soil, you should water your hanging baskets. You can also check the surface of the soil with your hand, and over time you will be able to tell just by looking at the soil if you should water them.
In cold climates, you will usually only need to water them once a week or less. In hot climates and during the summer you may need to water them 2 to 3 times a day. Hence, why people get a bit fed up and install an irrigation system.
Different varieties have different water needs. Most hanging basket flowers like a soil that is just moist, but not too soggy. Other varieties such as cacti like the soil to be a lot drier. So, you should base how much water you give your plants on the variety you are growing.
Why are my hanging baskets dying?
Your hanging baskets can die because of not enough water, not enough sunlight, they are an annual variety, or you have over-fertilized them.
Not enough water or too much water. If your soil is too dry too often, it will damage your plant. It won’t have enough water to carry nutrients around its body.
Over time the leaves will die, and the stem will become limp and fall over. If you add too much water it will give your plant root diseases that can kill your plant.
Not enough sunlight or too much sunlight. Plants need a fair amount of sunlight to live. It doesn’t have to be direct sunlight.
Your plants will still get sunlight if they are in the shade because they get diffused sunlight which bounces off surfaces.
Different plants require more or less sunlight depending on the variety and you should find out how much sunlight your plants need.
Annual variety. Many flowers are annuals. They bloom in the spring and summer and then die in winter.
If you have a perennial variety and it dies in winter you can leave them in the basket and they will grow back again next spring.
Over Fertilizing. Using too much fertilizer can kill your plant. There are many signs of over-fertilization that show on the plant.
Some of the symptoms include: A crust of fertilizer on the surface of your soil, yellowing and wilting lower leaves, browning leaf tips, leaves falling off, stunted or slow growth.
You can keep hanging baskets from drying out, by using mulch, water-retaining materials, and irrigation systems.
There are different types of mulch such as wood chips, river stones, or rocks, as well as other organic matter. Water retaining materials that can be used are peat moss, coco peat, and hydrogel.
- Wikipedia: Sphagnum
- Wikipedia: Polymer
- Gardeningknowhow.com: What Are Hydrogels: Learn About Water Crystals In Potting Soil
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.