Will your hanging basket survive on a glass of water a day?
Hanging baskets are being put to the test this summer as the RHS experiments with how best to water them.
The charity’s recently recruited garden water scientist Janet Manning will trial 10 different watering techniques over the next three months to determine how you can achieve dazzling blooms with minimum water use.
A previous RHS study suggested that baskets and containers can survive on a glass or teacup of water a day – just 160ml or 6floz – with overwatering likely to lead to poor quality plants.
Hanging baskets, being raised above the ground, are notoriously difficult to water, with much of what is applied running out of the bottom and the exposed root ball losing moisture far quicker than its equivalent in the ground.
Don’t assume that rainwater will do the watering for you, especially with hanging baskets which are often sheltered by overhanging roof guttering or a porch. You’ll still need to check them regularly to make sure they’re moist enough.
Janet Manning offers five top tips to keep your baskets blooming summer-long.
1. Don’t (necessarily) give them a daily soaking
Plants arranged in baskets lose moisture from their roots far quicker than their equivalents in the ground but there’s no need to provide them with a daily soaking, says Manning.
RHS research has shown that they can survive on as little as a teacup of water a day – that’s just 160ml or 6floz – with overwatering likely to lead to poor quality plants.
Maintaining a little bit of moisture is important – if they dry out completely they are really difficult to re-wet. It’s like trying to absorb a spill with a really dry mop. It just doesn’t work until it’s slightly damp. Familiarise yourself with the weight of your basket – if it’s feeling light it likely needs watering.
2. Slow down watering
The same RHS research found that water applied 5cm (2in) below the soil surface, through subsurface irrigation with drippers placed through the holes on the side of the containers, increased plant quality even though the upper soil was dust-dry.
If you don’t have a subsurface irrigation system, slow down the watering. Pour the water on slowly to give the compost a chance to absorb the water, rather than have it all run off the surface or down the sides of the container. It’s easier to use a smaller watering can on hanging baskets as it’s lighter to lift.
3. Capture run-off
If you’re still inclined to give your baskets more than a glass a day consider placing pots under your baskets to capture any excess run-off. This also means you will capture the nutrients that would have escaped, so saving on feeding.
4. Go for drought-tolerant plants
Who doesn’t love a billowing basket? But covering the soil surface with flowers and foliage can also help prevent the soil being exposed to the sun and drying out. Of course, opting for drought-tolerant plants like succulents will also help you to conserve water and mean you can leave your baskets largely unattended while you holiday. Always opt for a good quality peat-free compost as they will have better water holding capacity.
5. Recycle grey water
In times of drought, recycle grey water – that is, leftover water from the kitchen sink, shower and bath – on the garden, always avoiding edibles, to be safe.
To minimise bacterial growth, save grey water for no more than 24 hours and apply it by watering can; grease and fibres can clog irrigation systems.
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- Standoff between fox and marmot wins top photography prize! - October 16, 2019
- 5 of the most colourful autumn walks - October 16, 2019
- Toffee apple and salted pretzel rocky road - October 14, 2019
- How to give wildlife a helping hand with hibernation this winter - October 8, 2019
- National Curry Week: 7 signature curries from around the world - October 7, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!