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Choosing the Right Hanging Basket For Your Outdoor Space

“Look up…waaaaay up!” is a refrain familiar to a certain generation, but it is what we see so many of our customers do as they walk into the store. The Friendly Giant may not be around to help the vertically challenged get those heavy baskets down, however the Wallish staff excel at it.

Choosing hanging baskets is not simply about colour and arrangement. It’s also about considering what will thrive in the conditions you have around your home. Light and wind exposure are significant factors that affect performance, so here are some guidelines to help you find the perfect one.  

Let’s begin with light. Depending on species, flowering plants need anywhere from a minimum 2-6 hours of sunlight daily to bloom consistently. The sun-lovers need six or more hours of direct sun, whereas full shade plants will do well with 2-4 hours. Time in the sun needs only to be cumulative over the course of the day, and not necessarily in one stretch.  

Having little direct sun exposure does not mean that you cannot successfully grow a flowering plant. Shade is not uniform. It can range from dark and cool to light and hot. Having a light-coloured surface nearby such as a building or fence that reflects light into your space changes the game. Depending on the level of brightness some plants may do just fine with less direct sun.

However, if you have a north-facing balcony with heavy pillars that block the early morning and late afternoon sun, with little reflected light, you are unlikely to have success with flowering plants. A more suitable choice would be a mixed shade basket. Plants with different variations and textures of green can be just as enticing as flowering ones and will simply grow better under those deeper shade conditions.

Part sun baskets, such as those planted with Illumination and Bossa Nova begonias, or mixed shade baskets with BeaconTM impatiens, need about four hours of direct sunlight a day to flower consistently. Their fleshy leaves and deeply coloured blooms will look their best if the basket is hung in a sheltered location that gets only the gentle morning sun. They can also do well in a space with bright reflected light or under a tree where dappled sunlight comes through the canopy. 

Both the fuchsia and the Nonstop begonia baskets will do best with 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, but they don’t appreciate harsh midday and afternoon sun exposure. Brown crispy begonia leaves are a sign that the sun and heat is too intense. 

Conversely, Solenia begonias have been bred to tolerate sun, but the key word here is tolerate. If you find that they are suffering on your baking hot south-west patio, or against a fence in full sun, give them some light shade during the hottest hours of the day.

The full sun baskets, the geraniums, the calibrachoas, and the petunias, will do best with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day. They simply won’t bloom as prodigiously with less. Four hours of direct sun is the absolute minimum recommended exposure, but only if they have bright reflected light or very light dappled shade for the rest of the day. 

And then there are the Sunpatiens baskets. These versatile heat-loving plants with vibrant blooms will flower continuously throughout the season under any light condition except deep shade. Miss a watering? They’ll bounce back. And they can handle moderately windy conditions.  

Wind exposure is another important consideration when selecting a basket. Many plants are resilient to wind, but some are more susceptible to breakage when in a hanging basket. Specifically, the show stopping begonias which are descendants of tropical forest understory plants. They are best suited to well-protected locations due to the sheer weight of the flowers coupled with a crisp fleshy stem that can snap in the wind. 

Petunia baskets will also need some wind protection as their long, trailing, and somewhat stiff stems are also susceptible to breakage when blown about. Their relatives, the calibrachoas, are better suited to a windier location, but be sure to water consistently as the wind wicks the water out of their foliage. A calibrachoa basket may forgive you twice for being a little slow to water, but after a third time it may not be so. 

If you have a hot, sunny, exposed location, consider a Calliope, Caliente, Minicascade or Cascade geranium basket. These varieties can all handle consistent wind, and their brilliant blooms will brighten any landscape right through to frost. 

Nobody can anticipate those sudden summer wind gusts that wreak havoc, but by considering the normal wind and light conditions around your home you can select hanging baskets that will thrive and bring you happiness all summer long.