Hanging baskets are ideal for small, colorful spaces

Published 4:24 pm Monday, March 14, 2022

By Gary R. Bachman
MSU Extension Service

I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for last weekend’s cold snap. I physically protected those plants that needed protection from the cold snap, but I wasn’t ready mentally for the cold.

We have had some really good gardening weather the past couple of weeks, and I was ready to get on with my spring and summer landscape.

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Mother Nature reminded me who is really in charge.

I’ve received some questions about how unseasonable this cold snap was, but actually, these low temps track with historic weather data.

On the Mississippi coast where my home garden is located, we still have a 50% chance of a spring frost on March 15. It isn’t until April 5 that we are 90% frost-free, but it can still happen. I remember several years ago we had a hard frost April 14-15, and I tried to figure out how to protect my freshly transplanted tomatoes.

I have noticed the plants looking really good as I have been visiting greenhouses over the past week. I especially like the hanging baskets, which provide a great way to enjoy color and beauty on a small patio or porch. Hanging baskets allow you to take advantage of available growing space and are easy-care additions to the home landscape.

Some of my absolute favorite hanging basket plants are petunias and calibrachoas. I love mixed combination baskets, but don’t forget about single-species color baskets.

A favorite basket combination uses Vista Bubblegum, Vista Silverberry and Vista Fuchsia Supertunias. These colors are just natural companions.

Vista Bubblegum has clear bright-pink flowers. Vista Silverberry has silvery-white flowers with delicate, magenta-colored veins, and Vista Fuchsia has dark fuchsia-pink flowers. All three are vigorous mounding and trailing growers, which means they create a hanging basket with tremendous impact because it can be seen from a long way off.

I also like single-color hanging baskets that use calibrachoa, which lives up to its common name million bells. I’m really impressed with Superbells, which is a series hybrid of calibrachoa with many beautiful and colorful flowers. The abundant flowering is displayed against a background of dark-green foliage.

It’s no coincidence that I like newer selections of petunias and calibrachoas. Their funnel-shaped flowers are certainly similar, although the blooms are different in size. I also like these plants because they’re self-cleaning, meaning you don’t have to deadhead spent flowers.

I’ve been looking at the 10-day forecast, and all I’m seeing are lows around 50 and highs around 70. This is good news and means I’m going to restart my garden and landscape plans for 2022.
Who’s with me?

Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also the host of the popular Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at southerngardening@msstate.edu. Locate Southern Gardening products online at http://extension.msstate.edu/shows/southern-gardening.]