Planting a hanging basket

March 22, 2020 by Cherry Lane

Hanging baskets bring colour and elegance to a garden, and extends your patio display from the pots, to a height that you want it. These days there is a bigger choice of bedding plants than ever before, so here’s our advice on choosing your plants, container and compost, and how to keep it looking great!

Pick your container. Attractive and easy to plant, choose from the many designs, shapes and colours of basket made from natural materials such as willow and water hyacinth. These are usually lined with polythene to keep the moisture in. Next in line are the plastic hanging pots, which are a cheap and easy container to plant – also look out for pipe pots, which simply tie on to a drainpipe. The third category consists of wire or wrought iron baskets which you need to line, traditionally with moss or with a matching sized coir or fibre liner. The benefit to these is that you can plant through the sides of the basket, instead of just the top, making a more impressive basket, clothed with plants.

Compost. The best compost to use in any hanging basket is one that provides food for the first few months, and doesn’t dry out easily. Aptly named Container and basket composts are the best here, as they contain slow release plant food to last for the first few months, and water retaining gel, that swells up when the basket is watered and releases it back to the plants as the moisture level drops.

The right plants. For an attractive mixed basket, you will need at least 3 different types of plants. Firstly, at least one large, upright one – good choices here are Geraniums, upright Fuchsias, and Non-Stop Begonias for summer, and Cyclamen, dwarf conifers and Polyanthus for autumn to spring. Next, several trailing or cascading plants, for instance trailing varieties of Petunia, Lobelia, Fuchsia, and Begonia, Calibrachoas, Isotoma, Bacopa, Scaevola, Nemesia and Verbena for summer, and Ivy, trailing Viola, Creeping Jenny & Ajuga for autumn to spring. Lastly, a tray or two of seasonal upright bedding plants like Busy Lizzies, Petunias, Pansies or Violas

To plant an attractive mixed summer basket, using a wrought iron basket lined with moss:

  • 1. Line the bottom of the basket, coming up the side about 3 or 4 centimetres, by adding strips of moss a little at a time over the metal ribs of the container.  Cut a piece of polythene about the same size as this, and lay it on top in a dish shape, to form a reservoir.  Add compost into this, nearly up to the edge of the moss. Start adding your first layer of trailing plants, with the stem at the top of each rootball lying on the moss and the roots in contact with the compost. 
  • 2. Use 3-6 plants in each layer, depending on the size of the basket, building up with more moss and compost as you go.  Skew the layers (1 or 2 should be fine) so that plants are not directly above other plants. Make sure there will be enough depth of compost for the plants going in the top.
  • 3. Finish lining the sides and fill with compost to a couple of centimetres below the rim for easy watering.  Put in your other trailing plants spaced around the rim of the basket, tilted outwards, making sure all the roots are covered with compost.
  • 4. Place your centre plant(s) in the middle of the basket, then fill in the gaps with the upright bedding.  Don’t be afraid of putting too many in, the plants will grow well provided there is a little compost around them, and given sufficient food and water. Have a final check that all roots are sufficiently covered, adding more compost if necessary. 5. Water the basket well, and either hang on a bracket, or if created before the end of May, keep indoors to protect from frost.  Keep watered through summer and feed with tomato food when flowering starts.  Don’t forget to remove faded flowers which will keep your basket blooming into the autumn.

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