Take advantage of the sun and get some hanging baskets for Mother’s Day

Some tips on hanging plants and hummingbird feeders.

Marianne Binetti will speak on Edible Gardening at the Windill Gardens (Riverside) at 10 a.m., on May 25. Head to www.windmillgardens.com for more info.

The second week of May is when nurseries are well stocked for Mother’s Day and gardeners face a multitude of decisions about what to plant and where to plant it. Get thee to a nursery and start solving the riddle of putting the right plant in the right place. Here are the most asked questions ab out what to plant where:

Q. I need a hanging basket for a shaded back patio. What do you recommend?

A. Fuchsia baskets are the number one hanging planter for the shade for two reasons. First your fuchsia will provide movement and entertainment due to the humming birds that fuchsias attract and two we live in a part of the country where fuchsias thrive – and very few areas in the USA get to say that.

Tip: Humming bird feeders have been killing off our native humming birds due to a tongue fungus and kidney disease. Feeders must be cleaned daily to keep out the dangerous bacteria that grows in the sugar solution used in feeders. If you love humming birds, clean the feeder daily with hot soapy water or hang a fuchsia basket instead of using a bird feeder.

Q. What should I plant for summer color in a very hot, west facing bed next to the house? It is surrounded by a concrete driveway that adds to the heat in this bed.

A. Think heat loving annuals such as geraniums, petunias and salvias. Tall salvias in the back (the majestic Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ if you have room as it grows to five feet tall) then the upright geraniums in the middle and low spreading petunias in the front. If you need drought resistant plants for a hot spot consider sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ for the back (this is a perennial so it will come back next year) and heat loving lantana in the middle and a low, creeping ice plant for the border in front.

Q. I have a sunny porch and have tried hanging baskets full of sun loving ivy geraniums, super petunias and bacopa in past summers. The baskets do well at the beginning of summer than tend to die slowly at the start of August and I end up tossing them by mid August. What am I doing wrong?

A. Sounds like you are not watering often enough as summer warms up and the plants fill the container with roots. Hanging baskets in the sun often need water every day. Water thoroughly until you see water flowing from the drainage holes. Blooming baskets also need fertilizing all summer.

Tip: If you are not very good at remembering to water, chose a basket of Fan Flower (Scavolea) or Angel Wing begonias. Both of these are heat tolerant but they will wilt to remind you to water and are more forgiving of erratic watering schedules than a mixed basket of bloomers that may stop producing blooms the first time they experience thirst. In Western Washington you should be able to enjoy a hanging basket well into the month of September – but only with daily watering and frequent fertilizing.

Tip: Place a container garden beneath your hanging basket to catch and recycle the drainage water.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply. Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti. For more gardening information, she can be reached at her website, www.binettigarden.com.