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...
Combo-at-Youngs-Plant-Farm

December 12, 2017

How to Produce Stunning Combination Containers

It’s easy to produce your own attention-grabbing combos, if you follow this advice from a master combination designer.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impatiens

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awareness Promotions

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More
Latest Stories
Combo-at-Youngs-Plant-Farm

December 12, 2017

How to Produce Stunning Combination Containers

It’s easy to produce your own attention-grabbing combos, if you follow this advice from a master combination designer.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impa…

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awa…

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More
Brandon-Coker-and-John-Ruter-University-of-Georgia

December 3, 2017

Great Plants for 2018 That Stand Up to Heat and Humidit…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage credits trial managers at the University of Georgia, who have come up with an extensive list of plants that continually outperform others throughout the season.

Read More
Veronicastrum

December 1, 2017

Kelly Norris On How You Can Sell a New Landscape, With …

In his latest column, Kelly Norris says programs like Plant Select deliberately set out to change the market demand for a different palette of plants. Their success should serve as an example for how to authentically connect the gardening experience of a particular region with the supply chain.

Read More
MSU-Annual-Trial-Garden

November 29, 2017

2017 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
MOBOT-Trial-Gardens

November 27, 2017

2017 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
ISU-Trial-Beds

November 26, 2017

2017 Iowa State University/Reiman Gardens Field Trials …

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Iowa State University/Reiman Gardens in Ames, IA.

Read More
Lucas Greenhouses 2017 Container Trials

November 25, 2017

2017 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results from Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Upper-garden_Mast-Young

November 24, 2017

2017 Mast Young Plants Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results from Mast Young Plants in Grand Rapids, MI.

Read More
Pentas-Graffitti-Lipstick

November 23, 2017

2017 Dallas Arboretum Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, TX.

Read More
Pentas-Lucky-Star-Red

November 22, 2017

2017 Louisiana State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results Louisiana State University in Hammond, LA.

Read More
Echeveria-First-Lady

November 21, 2017

2017 D.S. Cole Growers Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, NH.

Read More
Millet-Copper-Prince

November 20, 2017

2017 Colorado State University Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

Read More
Achillea-Ritzy-Ruby

November 19, 2017

2017 Green Leaf Plants Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Green Leaf Plants in Lancaster, PA.

Read More
Ball-Bed-with-Midnight-Snack-tomato_Cornell

November 18, 2017

2017 Cornell University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Read More
Pepper Cayenne ‘Red Ember’ (Johnny’s Selected Seeds)

November 17, 2017

Presenting All-America Selections’ Latest Round of Awar…

All-America Selections has announced the latest round of its award-winning varieties, each of which was trialed throughout North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges.

Read More
Eason-New-Calibrachoa-Hi-Graft

November 14, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Introduces New Decorative…

Created by Hishtil Nursery in Israel, the new decorative forms of calibrachoa feature an 8- to 12-inch stem and come in four colors of calibrachoa blooms on top.

Read More