Before speaking specifically about Million Bells or Calibrachoa hanging baskets, let’s do a quick review of hanging basket care in general using the acronym C-A-R-E so aptly developed by a former team member, Arlene:
- This is about keeping a watchful eye on your hanging basket.
- Each day, do a general top to bottom overall check of your hanging basket – leaf & flower health, curling, wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, and old or deformed flowers. Turn the leaves over to look underneath for bugs, they love hiding there.
Millions Bells – the fact is that million bells are a favorite food of aphids particularly yellows & purples – a regular application (every 10 days or so) of safer soap can really help keep them at bay. You may also make homemade aphid spray from recipes found on the internet. As a last resort you may need to use insecticides specifically for aphids such as Dr. Doom
- One other thing to note – aphids love Maple trees as well. Keep your Calibrachoa basket a generous distance from and avoid hanging them in Maple trees.
- This is all about watering.
- A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them by pushing up on their bottom as they are hanging and check the weight. As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water. During hot days, it will likely need to be watered be everyday or every other day. For containers, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil. If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water. When watering containers and hanging baskets, water thoroughly so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot. That is how you know you have watered effectively and that all the roots are bathed in a fresh drink of water. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate causing the leaves and flowers to burn.
Million Bells – making sure you have kept your Million Bells basket adequately hydrated is SUPER important because Million Bells HATE to get dried out, their leaves will get brown and crispy and branches will start to lose their leaves. You generally 3 strikes of severely drying out this type of basket & then you are out.
- This step is about fertilizing.
- The reason why replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets is that there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the container and when the water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost. We recommend fertilizing weekly. Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day – make it an alarm on your phone. Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’. It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants with no burning, and we think it makes flowers brighter. ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers (20-20-20) work well.
Million Bells – are “heavy feeders”, so be sure to fertilize them weekly for the best performance.
- This is a maintenance step.
- Growth of plants is encouraged by taking off old flowers, known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back. Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower. Old wilting and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant in an attempt to repair itself but if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering. Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut with scissors – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.
Million Bells – Million Bells don’t need to be dead headed (yay!) but they can get gangly – pinch or trim them back with scissors. Sometimes they can get flat on top – we call that ‘balding’ – and they need to be pinched back. It’s easier to do this pinching early on when there is a lot of new growth on the top regularly rather than later when it’s really flat because of the amount of foliage you may have to cut back.
Enjoy these baskets, they have tremendous color power and perform wonderfully with a little routine care.
Call us today for more gardening tips: 780-467-3091.