Getting those Hanging Baskets Their Brilliant Best

Constantly trying to keep my weight down as I do, I’ve found the best way, (apart from living by the rule,  “if it tastes’ good, spit it out”), regular exercise has been a big part of my success. Though there are a ton of different methods, what appeals to me is simply walking, and I try to get about an hour in a day.

I’m also a bit of creature of habit, and tend to walk the same route every day. We live in a small town, and  each year our local council puts up hanging baskets of Petunias. Walking past them each evening, it’s kind of neat as you see their progression from seedlings, when the baskets first go up in the spring, to filling out nicely in about 3 -4 weeks, the first blooms peeking out, then becoming a simply amazing mass of color by mid summer.

As summer progresses, these baskets just get bigger and bigger, eventually becoming 3-4 feet across and probably 6 – 7  feet from top to bottom.  An absolute blaze of brilliant color and the picture of health. Every evening I’d be on my deck, glass of a good red in hand, relaxing on my new  Strathwood St. Thomas Deep Seat Motion Chair and wondering how come I couldn’t get Petunia’s to look that good in my yard.

It’s all in the water, or is it?

Last summer I needed to switch my evening walk to a morning walk, and found myself walking through the town in the early morning hours, and among the baskets was a Town Employee with a truck and a water tank. Spending a few minutes at each basket, he had a small gas powered pump pumping the water though a long wand and he’d systematically go from basket to basket, watering each in turn.

So that was the secret, water! Or was it?

It looked a lonely job, so of course I stopped for a chat and compliment him on how much the Petunia’s enhanced the street, and while I was at it, quiz him on how the plants were so brilliant and healthy.

It turns out it was two “secrets”…

Plant Selection – Hybrids Only

It seems the only plants used were the newer hybrid varieties such as “Wave Petunias”. The hybridization had allowed the stock to have amazing vigor, and respond remarkably to the second “secret”….

Daily, Low Intensity Fertilization

Rather than as I did with my baskets, (water daily, then a weekly drink with a soluble NPK fertilizer solution), the Town were using an extremely weak fertilizer solution EVERY DAY. They  simply took the suggested fertilizer rate for a weekly application, divided it by seven, and added it to the water tank!

So everyday the Petunia’s received adequate water with an extremely low feeding from an NPK soluble fertilizer. Constant nutrient replenishment.  That was the secret!

It made sense really, as with the Hybrid stock, they have the ability to grow tremendously, and the growing medium in the basket would simply never be ably to sustain that type of vegetative growth alone.

And the color from the right fertilization!  Simply brilliant!

 

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