By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s hard to resist those big beautiful hanging baskets with piles of petunias spilling over – but it’s even harder to keep them alive all summer. People wonder why their hanging baskets poop out each year and the answer is – too many plants in a too-small pot.

By the time you buy a fabulously floriferous hanging basket, it’s been growing for weeks or months to get that size – there are loads of roots inside that little pot already and not enough soil to support them or hold enough water all summer. So, you can water constantly, fertilize frequently, and pinch back to try to keep them going – or you can start small.

For the past couple of years, instead of buying gianormous baskets, I planted my own – with rich compost to feed them and soil moistening pellets to hold water – and a few small plants. Yes, early on, they look a little…little. But they fill in fast as the weeks go by and when your hanging pots are happy on the Fourth of July, then keep going and growing into August when those hanging pots you buy are usually starting to die, you’ll be glad you started out small so your hanging baskets could make it through summer’s long haul.

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