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Carole's Gardening Tips

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Carole's Gardening Tips

Caring for Hanging Baskets

Knowing how and when to water your hanging basket can be tricky.  If you see the leaves and flowers wilting, don't assume that the basket needs water.  Over watering can also cause a plant to wilt - the roots are drowning for lack of oxygen.
A good test is to lift your hanging basket
  • If the basket is heavy and the leaves are wilting, you may need to just leave the basket alone and let it dry out.  Feel the soil and look "inside" the foliage to see if there are broken or mushy stems. Let it dry and watch the foliage to see if it recovers. If too much damage has occured, the situation my be irreversible.
  • If the basket feels light when you lift it and the leaves are wilting, then you will need to water. Pour water slowly into the basket until the water comes out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the basket.  If the basket still feels light you may have to "re-wet" the soil mass because the water is by-passing the soil, running along the sides of the basket and draining right out the bottom. Try watering with warm water and use a little water at a time.  Pour some on the soil and wait a few minutes and then repeat. If possible (depending on the size of your basket) you may need to soak the basket in a tub of water (a dish pan or large sink) until the root ball has absorbed enough water to expand and fill the basket again. 
  • A large hanging basket ("Wave" petunia,for example) in a sunny location, may have to be watered twice a day.  Also, don't assume that a good rain has watered your basket.  Sometimes the foliage is so dense  the rain can't penetrate down to the soil.  Always check the basket by lifting it and checking the weight.  A well-watered, large basket in full bloom will be very heavy.

Trap Pesky Earwigs
Are you ever troubled with earwigs chewing on your flowers?  I have trouble with earwings on marigolds.
In the May, 2008 issue of the Organic Gardening magazine, page 16, I read about an earwig trap that worked for me.  Take a plastic margerine tub and make a number of small holes about half way up the sides of the container.  Put about an inch of soy sauce in the container and a thin layer of vegetable oil on top.  Snap the top back on the container and place the tub on the ground or in the large pot where you're having the earwig problem.  The earwigs are attracted to the soy sauce, crawl inside and they're trapped there - away from your flowers.
Check the margerine tub every so often, dump the contents and start again.