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Give baskets new life

Today seems like a good time to talk about hanging baskets.

Today seems like a good time to talk about hanging baskets.

By now they may be beginning to look a bit tatty and be ready for some serious attention. By this I mean renovation.

Petunias will be getting leggy with blossoms only near the ends of branches. This suggests that you take your scissors or secateurs, and cut back (to the edge of the pot) every second stem, so that you’ll still have enough flowers to leave the basket looking presentable, but encourage the ones you have trimmed back to make new growth.

Fertilize when you are satisfied, and water well, and before long you’ll have a display of fresh blooms.

Forgive me for repeating a true story about our then neighbour Hazel. She had put a basket of petunias on the railing of her deck, and during the night we had a freak wind storm which tossed the basket from her balcony onto the cement walk below. In the morning she picked it up and surveyed the tattered remains of her petunias. This woman knew what she was doing. She evened off the straggling stems, fertilized the basket and watered it well, and within two weeks she had a completely renewed display of flowers. If you will add (say) six or eight nasturtium seeds to your pots and baskets around the outside edge, they should provide a fresh look before long, and will bloom from now until frost (who said that dirty word frost?)

Yesterday my Pender Island daughter took me with her to Costco where she surveyed their remaining hanging baskets, and decided to have a look elsewhere.

She ended up with a hanging basket full of flowers from a local grocer, which she gleefully transported back to Pender. She needed it like a case of hives, but I’m afraid she comes by her delight in plants from her mother. There are never quite enough as long as there is an empty spot on her deck where she can squeeze another treasure in.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.