11 Care Tips For Petunias in Hanging Baskets
Did you recently add some petunias in hanging baskets to your patio or outdoor garden area? Not sure how to keep them healthy as long as possible? In this article, gardening expert Paige Foley provides her top tips for healthier and longer blooming basket-bound petunias this season!
Petunias are a favorite annual flower of many gardeners because they are low-maintenance and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They produce a continuous color of blooms from spring to late fall. They look great in landscapes, flower beds, vegetable gardens, pots and hanging baskets.
Petunias thrive in a number of locations around the yard but they shine when planted in hanging baskets. Although petunias are low-maintenance, a little bit of care will go a long way. So what are some tips you can use to ensure your basket-bound petunias are stunning all season long?
There are a number of methods to keep petunias reblooming continuously and to keep hanging baskets healthy. Let’s take a look at some tips to help lengthen the bloom times of your basket bound petunias, as well as keeping them healthy!
Choose The Right Varieties
With so many options for petunias, there are varieties that grow better in hanging baskets then anywhere else. Wave and supertunia varieties are excellent options for basket-bound petunias. They may cost a little more but will be well worth it in the long run.
Wave and supertunia varieties are self-cleaning and won’t require you to remove spent blooms throughout the season. This is great because it won’t have to bring the basket down from there hook or reach high to clean spent blooms.
These varieties tend to be trailing varieties that spill over the edge of the basket which is a common desired look. Depending on the variety you choose, they can vary in length from 24 inches to 48 inches long.
You can grow mounding varieties in baskets as well; they just won’t spill over the side of the container as much.
Pick a Larger Hanging Container
Whether you purchased a hanging basket of petunias from a garden center or you decide to purchase an empty basket to fill with petunias, there are a few details to keep in mind.
First, you need to ensure you have a basket with enough room for your plants to flourish. Typically, garden centers choose a proper container that petunias can stay in all summer.
I recommend choosing a basket that is at least 10 inches in diameter. This will be large enough to hold multiple petunias plants or other petunia companion plants as well.
You can have smaller baskets, you will just have to have fewer plants growing together. You can also make your own hanging basket if there aren’t any locally that fit your garden style.
Next, you need to ensure the container has proper drainage holes. This is very important as petunias like well-draining soils. You can also choose a basket lined with coco liner instead of plastic. No matter the basket you choose, you need excellent drainage to avoid soggy soils for long periods of time.
Use the Right Soil
A good soil is the foundation for successful petunias. Petunias love well-draining soils with a good amount of organic matter. If you purchased a basket from a garden center they typically use a proper potting soil with good organic matter for healthy growth.
If you are looking to buy your own potting soil, local garden centers and nurseries carry excellent potting soils for plants in hanging baskets. Just ensure the soil is light and fluffy so it doesn’t become too compacted over time.
Provide Adequate Sunlight
Petunias worship the sun and need to be exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to thrive. If you can plant petunias in 8 hours or more of sunlight this is best. Choosing a location where your basket will receive enough sunlight can be a bit difficult.
Hanging baskets can be hung on hooks in the center of flower beds and landscapes so they receive unobstructed sunlight. But petunias are commonly hung from overhangs, roofs, patio covers and so on. Study the area you want to hang your baskets to ensure there is nothing obstructing the sunlight.
Water More Frequently
Hanging baskets in general require more frequent waterings than your typical garden. They are shallow and tend to dry out very quickly, especially on hot and windy days. There are a few methods to check if your baskets need water and are getting the proper amount of water.
A good rule of thumb is if you can lift the basket and it feels light, consider watering. If your basket feels heavy, consider waiting a day and check the basket again to see if it has lightened any.
You can also remove the basket from its hook and check the soil. Never allow standing water or extremely soggy soils to develop in hanging baskets with petunias.
You want to make sure you are watering your baskets thoroughly. Water until water begins to flow from the bottom of the drainage holes. This indicates that water is getting through the whole basket.
Petunias are somewhat drought tolerant but only if you encourage deep roots. This is more difficult to do because roots only have so much space to grow in an enclosed space. Your petunias can tolerate a dry basket for a day or two but might begin to suffer if left any longer than this.
Fertilize as Needed
Petunias are heavy feeds and can quickly deplete the nutrients in the soil around them. You can begin fertilizing your hanging baskets the minute you plant them or when you bring them home. Slow release fertilizers are a great option because over a number of weeks they release nutrients into the soil.
Liquid fertilizer works as well but you could potentially leach out of the soils from frequent waterings. Liquid fertilizer can also burn the leaves and give them an unappealing appearance. If you choose to apply liquid fertilizer, stick to a bi weekly schedule to prevent nutrient depletion.
Prune and Deadhead When Necessary
Not all petunias will need to be pruned and deadheaded throughout the season. LIke I mentioned earlier, wave and supertunia petunias are self-cleaning and will drop spent blooms.
If you choose to grow different varieties that aren’t self-cleaning, you may have to deadhead to keep your petunias looking healthy and clean.
Pruning leggy stems can be done on all petunias at some point in the season. Leggy stems will have few blooms and leaves and aren’t appealing to the eye. Cut back any stems you feel are becoming too long and scraggly. This will promote a shorter, fuller petunia that produces more blooms.
Don’t Crowd the Basket
Having too many plants in one space can cause a number of issues as they grow. A good rule of thumb is to take the size of your container and divide it by 2. For example, if you have a 12 inch basket you should plant 6 plants total. Or if you have a 20 inch basket, you could plant up to 10 plants total.
That rule applies to the mounding varieties and other plants you wish to grow with petunias. If you choose to grow the spreading varieties of petunias such as wave and supertunia, they will need a bit more room.
For every 3 inches of basket, you can plant 1 spreading variety of petunia. For example, if you have a 12 inch basket, you can plant 4 spreading petunia varieties total.
Pick a Sheltered Location
Hanging baskets are pretty vulnerable, especially when it comes to extreme weather. Making sure you choose an area that provides some protection from wind, heavy rain and hail is important for keeping your plant alive through the season.
Petunias are a delicate flower that can easily be damaged by strong winds, heavy rains and hail. On top of how delicate petunias are, hanging baskets are prone to falling if not properly protected. If your region is anticipating bad weather or gusty winds, consider placing them on the ground until the weather improves.
Add Some Companions
Yes, petunias look amazing in hanging baskets by themselves. But they also look great with companion plants in container gardening arrangements. There are endless options to choose from when planting basket arrangements with a variety of plants. Remember not to overcrowd.
Some common plants that grow well with petunias in baskets are geraniums, calibrachoa, creeping jenny, lavender and sweet potato vines. Be careful not to choose a plant that gets too tall or too short, preventing you from seeing it in the basket.
Treat Problems Immediately
Petunias are generally carefree and have little to no issues with diseases and pests. That doesn’t mean your petunias are completely safe. Occasionally, disease and pest find their way to petunias and can’t cause extensive damage if not controlled quickly.
Check your baskets often to catch pests and disease right away. You can easily control both by removing infested stems, leaves and blooms from the hanging baskets. If pests and diseases are too advanced, fungicides and insecticide can be helpful but your petunias may succumb to the damage and die.
One of the most popular plants to grow in hanging baskets, petunias will put on a continuous colorful show of blooms all season long. With a little bit of care, they will reward you with a beautiful display of blooms and foliage. Choose to plant a whole hanging basket of petunias or pair with companion plants for a custom creation, you can’t go wrong with any choice.