Every year, you can spend a ton of money on basket stuffers like petunias, geraniums, lobelia and callibrachoa. And for what? At the end of the summer, they end up on the compost heap.
Here are a few ways you can get your fillers, thrillers and spillers more cheaply. Instead of going whole hog at the beginning of May when the plants are at their peak and just started to bloom, wait until they go on sale.
When greenhouses and nurseries grow bedding plants to sell, they have a window of optimum sales, usually from the middle of April to the end of May.
In this short season, the greenhouses are full of gorgeous, short lived crops that are in tiny cell packs. Unless they are to spend more resources on potting them on, or dumping them, they often lower the price to blow out levels. This clears the growing area to make room for other crops, so it's a great way for you to get some good deals.
But instead of picking and choosing the nicest looking, bushy and compact plants, go for the biggest, with the longest 'legs' and fewest flowers. It doesn't matter if they have some blooms; they will be getting cut off as soon as you get them home.
Choose the biggest ones because you will be chopping them down, and using the pieces to root as cuttings. Plants like petunias, lobelia, callibrachoa and others are easy to root, using a small amount of rooting hormone and placing the pot of soil inside a bag until the roots take over.
Another advantage to purchasing plants that are bigger and really ready to repot is that you can tell the colors of the flowers - I like to color coordinate my baskets, and avoid yellow or scarlet flowers.
I prefer blues, purples and pinks in my baskets, with a foil of white flowers like bacopa, or the blue lobelia. If you have a color scheme that makes you happy, wait until the end of May to get your basket stuffers so you can choose the right flowers.
Please keep in mind that some of these plants are patented, and propagation is actually not permitted for resale.
There are some great ways to redo hanging baskets, to get them to push out another flush of growth - this holds true at the beginning of their journey of beauty as well as the end.
Any time you cut off the end of the growth, it 'removes apical dominance', hormones are released, and buds along the length of the plant will be able to grow.
After planting five or so plants in the basket, cutting them back and trimming off the flowers, give the whole thing a good drink of tepid water, sprinkle some fertilizer or worm castings on the surface, and hang the basket up in a sheltered place.
In two or three weeks you will never be able to tell that once, these were the dregs of the greenhouse and destined for the compost heap.