First of all, the size of the basket is very important for you to stay beautiful all summer long. If you bought a small basket 8-10 “in diameter, it would have been best to repot into a 12-14” basket. The fact is, the bigger the basket, the more soil you have and the more successful your planting will be. When repotting, make sure that you use high-quality potting soil. My favorite is MiracleGro.

The next important thing is to understand how to pour properly. Stick your finger in the basket and if it feels damp to a depth of 1-2 inches, you can wait another day before watering. You can also weigh the basket by hand. If it feels heavy, it likely isn’t thirsty.

It is essential to water thoroughly when watering. Use a shower wand or watering can and pour gently until the water drains from the bottom of the basket. If water oozes out of the bottom but the basket still seems dry, you may need to soak it in a bucket of water for up to an hour. As summer progresses and the baskets fill with roots, watering every day, and sometimes more often, is an absolute must.

Another key to spectacular baskets is feeding. Since the baskets have little soil, they really need to be fed regularly so that the plants get enough nutrients. In early spring, it is important to get plenty of vegetative growth by using fast-acting liquid fertilizers at least weekly. I like to add something from a 15-30-15 or similar product every time I water. I add about a teaspoon per gallon of water instead of the recommended tablespoon per gallon.

I think one of the more difficult things to do is keep those baskets trimmed and dead. For example, baskets of petunias, lantanas, and verbena become long-legged in midsummer, and overgrown stems need to be cut back by about half to keep them bushier and blooming. Geraniums need to be pitted regularly and any yellowed leaves need to be removed. In this way, the plant’s energy flows into the production of more flowers.

Most annuals benefit from having a small haircut to keep them looking their best. Some plants may need to be replaced if they have passed their flowering period and do not recover from being trimmed. Take the plant out of the basket and put a new one in.

One of the great things about hanging baskets is that they are portable. If the location they’re in doesn’t work, move them to another location. Or if a basket is particularly noticeable, put it in a place where you can see and enjoy it often.

These local gardening items are available every week during the gardening season, but year-round gardening information is available by clicking the Yard and Garden on the University of Minnesota Extension website, www.extension.umn.edu, or on our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Beltramicountymastergardeners.

Local master gardeners answer questions via voicemail. Call (218) 444-7916 leaving your name, number and question.