Looking forward to the coming season always excites me and these days we seem to see new plants and varieties to make the growers life even more interesting.

Hanging baskets increase in popularity each year as does the range and selection of plants available. We produced over 4,000 baskets last year at our nursery. Still, the most popular by far is the traditional mixed basket consisting of plants such as Geranium, Fuchsia, Verbena, Lobelia, Petunia, Begonias, Nepeta etc. The advantage of a mixed basket is that as one plant or variety reduces in flowers another will take over so producing an ever-changing colourful display well into the autumn.

As I drive and walk around the area, I see many homes that are missing out on the experience, joy and beauty of having a hanging basket. If you are a little hesitant about having a go at planting up a basket, come along to our hanging basket open days where I will be demonstrating just how easy it is.

The key to success is not only in the planting but also in looking after them as they grow. Baskets are prone to drying out. Once established they should be watered most days when in full sun and during the height of summer, they may need watering twice a day. Take off dead flowers and leaves, cut back straggly growth to encourage new flowers and to maintain a good shape.

Add liquid feed with a high potash content to water once or twice a week. Remember that you have a lot of plants growing in a small amount of compost. With regular watering the plant food is soon washed out so it needs regularly replacing. Signs of lack of food are pale green leaves, stunted growth and few flowers. All the above may seem a daunting task but believe me the commitment of a few minutes each day will be repaid with the beauty and satisfaction that only flowers can provide.

In the past it has always been difficult to know which plants are suitable for planting in your hanging basket and how to plant them but choosing the right plant is easy with “Wheat’s unique hanging basket plant selection pack” developed and grown by us on our own nursery. The pack contains over 20 plants just right for 14” or 16” baskets and comes with full planting instructions.

There is still a lot to do in the garden now that the beautiful displays of spring bulbs are coming to an end so it is time to conserve them for next year. As Hyacinths, Daffodils and Tulips begin to fade it is an important job to deadhead the flowers if we intend to keep the bulbs for next year. Cut off the flowers just below the seedpod so that the energy in the foliage returns to the bulb. Feed at this time with a good liquid fertiliser such as Miracle Gro plant food while the leaves are green and roots still active, increasing the energy to produce next years flowering. Cutting off the flower stops all this energy going into making seeds and directs it back to the bulb. For bulbs grown in containers and flowerbeds, remove them while still in leaf with as much compost as possible and plant around trees and shrubs so that they will not be disturbed by summer cultivation, naturalising and flowering for many years to come.

Never cut off the leaves, twist over or tie in a knot as this is like a kink in a hosepipe and prevents the energy returning to the bulb. Do not be tempted to remove the foliage while it is still green even if it does look unsightly, as it takes at least six weeks for the transfer of energy to the bulb to be completed.