The surprise and delight our summer guests experience at seeing our Alaskan flower baskets at Hatcher Pass Bed and Breakfast makes all the care and effort worth it.
“Oh my goodness I love your flowers! How did they get so big?” ask the guests pulling into the sourdough cabin at our Palmer, Alaska bed and breakfast. Their eyes linger appreciatively on our show-stopping hanging baskets that brim over with flowers of vivacious colors.
“It’s the long days, twenty plus hours of daylight in the summer that creates these flowers that just keep on giving and growing,” I tell them, proud that this little extra touch makes an impression on our guests.
Building Beautiful Alaskan Flower Baskets
Now I have to be honest with you. I’m not the creator of all of these lovely baskets. The true artist behind their creation is a local greenhouse guru, Cory, at Jacobson’s Greenhouse who, in addition to building several of the baskets gives me plenty of ideas and beautiful combinations of colors, textures, and styles of flowers to fill the baskets with.
When I go looking for flower baskets, I always take the weather into consideration. Will it be warm and sunny – weather well suited to petunias and the like or will it be cool and cloudy – weather better suited for pansies and other cool weather flowers? Typically I will go with a mixture and hope for the best.
Hardening Off Alaskan Flower Baskets: An Important Step
In late spring, before the start of the summer season, I go back to the greenhouse to pick up my baskets. Before I put them out for the season, they need to be “hardened off”.
These big and show-stopping flower baskets are started in February or March in a greenhouse and nurtured, watered, trimmed and taken care of until I pick them up and “harden” them off before hanging them on the cabins. Living in such a controlled environment at the greenhouse they must slowly be acclimated to life in many temperatures and humidity. Putting them directly out in hot sunshine, brisk winds, or cool temperatures can be a bit too much of a shock to them. The process of acclimating them is known as “hardening off”, and it is critical in Alaska to ensure their health and longevity. So they are allowed to be outside for a few hours and then taken in at night for three to five days – increasing time outside each day until they are left out to make it on their own in all the elements.
Summer Care of Alaskan Flower Baskets
1. WATER – In addition to the light, water is the most important element for these beauties. Temperature and light are beyond our control, but the water is the most important element one can control. Typically baskets must be watered each day, but on some hot days twice a day watering is necessary. There are many plants in the basket and they each drink their share of water. On cool, damp days they may not need to be watered at all. Weight is a good measurement to use when testing for moisture – light baskets usually need watering – heavier ones probably still have water in the soil adding weight to the basket.
2. FERTILIZER – Fertilizing the baskets with Osmocote or other bloom building fertilizer once a week ensures that the flowers have plenty of nutrition to keep on blooming.
3. DEADHEADING or CUTTING BACK – Eliminating the dead blooms to make room for the new ones should also be incorporated into caring for hanging baskets. Depending on the type of flower grown, deadheading can be a long job especially when the baskets are producing flowers as I like.
4. PEST CONTROL – Sometimes there is just nothing you can do to keep these long nosed friends away!
If you would like to see our flower baskets and stay with us, please visit our booking page.