Hanging Around

Hanging Around

The hanging basket portion of the market continues to expand, and the trend seems to be to complex mixed arrangements of flowering and foliage plants, similar to the expansion of the market for 14-inch and larger patio containers. Mono-culture containers still remain popular, but larger pot sizes and a preference for lifestyle purchasing are demanding that responsive retailers and growers learn how to put together mixed containers and hanging baskets that are both high quality and artistic. This market can be the cornerstone of a strong independent retail program or a high profit local market if it is done right.

Complex mixes of plants and larger hanging basket sizes put local producers at a definite advantage because they have less concern with shipability of the plants in the mix and don’t have the freight charges that a larger producer would have to incorporate for long-distance delivery.

Growing hanging baskets can actually be a bit easier than succeeding on the bench for many growers. Early season is traditionally a lower light time of the year, but hanging baskets are usually getting the best light available in the upper levels of the greenhouse. However, it is easy to lose track of the condition of these plants because they are not directly in your line of sight like crops on the bench.

Watering, high-intensity light levels and temperature management are keys to success of basket hanging in the greenhouse throughout the season. The upper reaches of your greenhouse are at much different temperatures from plants on the bench. You need to keep a good eye on ventilation and upper temperatures to avoid cooking your hanging baskets. 

Succeed With Hanging Baskets

You can succeed with a hanging basket program both by being a good grower and by using the information out there to help in the design and planning stages of putting together your orders. Almost every major supplier is now offering recipes for mixed containers; you don’t have to be an artist anymore. You can use the information provided by suppliers to put your designs together. A quick conversation with your supplier can also help refine the designs for early-, mid- and late-season crops. So, in general, you already have the tools you need to succeed in the information department.

The main consideration with plant material is matching vigor of the plants you use. Work with your salesperson or supplier to make sure your recipes consist of plants that “play nice” together. As an example, ornamental sweet potato will make short work of most slow-growing crops in a mixed basket. Once it overgrows its companions, they rarely see the light of day again. Learn to match the vigor of the plants. In some cases, you can do this with the first pinch before your baskets start to grow out.

Focus on how you grow and how you manage crops. In the end, this is what will really determine the quality of crop you grow. Here are some simple “do’s and don’ts” to help you increase your chances of success, but don’t forget to keep records of what works and what doesn’t work for you. You’ll want to have a list of successful and fast-selling combinations, as well as a list of the losers so you don’t repeat any mistakes next year.

 DO

1. DO start with a good, well-drained mix and keep a close eye on pH and EC levels as you move through the crop. Selecting a good media for your containers is essential for a good crop. Also, heavier mixes tend to make it harder to get good root development early in the season, as well as make transporting the plants more difficult and expensive when the crop finishes.

2. DO start the crop as warm as possible to get a good root system established quickly. The average hanging basket contains a lot of media. In early season, if this soil mass becomes chilled, it will limit root development and affect later growth. Shoot for day temperatures of day 68ËšF to 72ËšF and night temperatures of 65ËšF to 68ËšF. If you are trying to run a cooler greenhouse, see if you can provide under-bench heat so the soil remains warm enough for good root development.

3. DO apply ethephon to any crops such as petunia, calibrachoa or verbena once liners are rooted in. This will help avoid flowering too early and also increase branching and speed a uniform fill-in of the basket.

4. DO pinch all plants as you move them to hanging positions. This will also help increase branching and give the grower a last chance to knock extremely vigorous cultivars back a bit and let slower-growing types have a few more weeks of light to balance out development in the basket.

5. DO apply systemic insecticides, such as imidacloprid, when you move planted baskets from bench to hanging positions. Once the baskets are hanging, it is much harder to monitor insect issues. Scout for pests regularly. Things happen fast in the upper reaches of the greenhouse. Do not be caught by surprise.

6. DO use slow-release fertilizers, as well, when you hang baskets for production. The slow-release fertilizer helps account for increased growth at the higher light and temperature the plants will be under once hung. It also gives you a little bit of a buffer in case there are problems with pH or EC later in the crop.

7. DO apply a drench of plant growth regulators, such as paclobutrazol, when baskets of very vigorous plants (vegetative petunia, verbena and calibrachoa) reach about three-quarters their finished size. This not only tones the plants in the container, but also makes it easier to manage scheduling of deliveries without plants overgrowing their containers and becoming difficult to ship.

8. DO try to finish all your hanging baskets under cool temperature conditions. This helps with toning the baskets, but also sharpens up the colors of all the plant materials. The key is to start the plants warm for good root development but then grow them cool, as it gives you more flexibility in timing and less risk of disease and insect problems. 

DON’T

9. DON’T assume all plants like the same temperatures. Work with your supplier to make sure you are growing cool preference plants in the early season and shifting to warm preference crops as the season goes on.

10. DON’T forget that you usually have less control of temperatures in the upper portions of the greenhouse. They are going to be hotter during the day and stay warmer during the night. This means you can expect to see more stretch on these plants, and they may need more plant growth regulators as a result.

11. DON’T overfeed, especially crops that are sensitive to fertility levels like New Guinea impatiens. You want to provide the right amount of fertilizer, but more is rarely better once you get beyond what is required. Too much fertilizer increases stretch, encourages baskets to become overgrown and can also weaken plants and make them more susceptible to insects and disease. It is also money wasted in the long run.

12. DON’T forget the importance of air movement. Hanging baskets need good air circulation. It helps in every aspect of plant growth, prevents disease issues and helps equalize relative humidity levels within the greenhouse. The closer you grow your plants, the more you need to focus on making sure you provide good air circulation. What you spend on fans you will save on chemicals, hand labor cutting plants back and overall frustration.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Hanging Around

More From Varieties...
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selections Offers Improved Navigation

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant Breeding

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
Latest Stories
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

Read More
Sea breeze combo

November 26, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
Begonia at Oklahoma State University field trials

November 26, 2016

2016 Oklahoma State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Read More
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Cherry'

November 25, 2016

2016 North Dakota State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

Read More
Scaevola 'Scala Bicolor Blue'

November 24, 2016

2016 North Carolina State University Field Trials Resul…

Check out the 2016 field trial results at North Carolina State University/J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Read More
2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Flower Trials

November 23, 2016

2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse first caught the poinsettia bug in 1996, but the operation didn’t begin trialing the plant until 2004

November 21, 2016

Poinsettia Trials Across The Eastern U.S. To Take Place…

Poinsettia growers interested in keeping up with the latest variety and production trends have the chance to attend university open houses in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Read More
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'

November 21, 2016

2016 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
Field trials at Lucas Greenhouses

November 20, 2016

2016 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 Field Trials results for Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Catharanthus 'Soiree Kawaii Coral'

November 19, 2016

Kansas State University 2016 Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trial results for Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society field trials

November 18, 2016

2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials R…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA.

Read More
verbena-endurascape

November 18, 2016

All-America Selections Announces Its 2017 Slate Of Vari…

Brokers, growers, mail order, and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac'

November 17, 2016

2016 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]