How to Keep Hanging Baskets from Drying Out

container gardening picture of hanging basket
Fuchsia in a Coir Hanging Basket. Kerry Michaels

Hanging baskets are a lovely addition to your back garden, on your front porch, or anywhere else they grace your home. Like all other plants, those growing in your hanging baskets need enough water to stay healthy, but figuring out how to keep hanging baskets moist can be tricky. They can dry out quickly, particularly if you live in a hot or windy climate. Keeping hanging baskets moist requires choosing the right size basket, lining it properly, and selecting the right type of soil.

Choosing a Basket Size

Tiny hanging baskets might be cute, but they're finicky. A large basket holds more soil and, therefore, holds more moisture for a longer period of time. It also retains more nutrients, which benefits the plants within the basket. Choose the large basket that can be safely secured to your home for the best outcome for the plants.

Lining the Baskets

Before adding soil and the plants to the basket, line it with a material that will help the soil retain moisture. Options include:

  • Coco coir liners: Made from natural coconut husks, coco coir liners are thick, long-lasting, and absorbent. It will hold water and release it slowly to keep the soil moist. They're also pH-balanced, which helps to maintain healthy soil, and biodegradable, which means they won't have an impact on the environment.
  • Plastic bag: Though it's not as environmentally friendly, a plastic bag works as a hanging basket liner in a pinch. Cut it up so that it fits easily in the bottom of the basket without showing, adding holes in the bottom to reduce the amount of moisture that evaporates along the sides. If your plants like a drier climate, only line the basket’s sides. This allows moisture to freely drain to the bottom. For plants that like to stay moist, line the inside of the whole hanging basket.

Select the Appropriate Soil Mix

Certain soil mixtures dry out more easily than others. To avoid this, add between 20 percent and 40 percent vermiculite and perlite, both made from volcanic rock, to the soil to help it retain moisture. If you can't find those, make your own worm compost.

Self-Hydrating Baskets

During certain times of the year, your hanging baskets might need to be watered several times a day. For anyone with a busy schedule, it can be tough to keep up. Fashion a self-watering hanging basket to eliminate worry. You can purchase a self-watering reservoir to place under the soil. Fill it up with water, and it will gradually drain into the soil without overwatering.