A guide to hanging baskets
Hanging baskets are a great way to provide winter or summer interest to any garden. Even the smallest outdoor space usually has room for a hanging basket or two. What’s more, you’re not limited to flowers or bedding plants. Try small shrubs, evergreens, herbs, salad or fruit if you want something more unusual.
Simply decide whether you’d like a long-lasting display, or an ever changing variety of seasonal plants throughout the year.
When to plant a hanging basket
If you have a greenhouse, plant summer hanging baskets from April but keep them safe from frost until the weather warms up. This will give them a strong start and they’ll look great from the moment you hang them in their final position. If your basket is going straight outside, it’s a good idea to wait until May.
Want to refresh your baskets with colour to last throughout the colder months? Plant winter hanging baskets with hardy plants in September and October.
Perennial hanging baskets for long-lasting displays are best planted from April. Check the labels on individual plants if you’re unsure.
What to plant in your hanging basket
Lots of flowers, plants and shrubs can be planted in hanging baskets. Before you decide, be sure that the bracket is strong enough to hold the basket once everything starts to grow. They can be incredibly heavy, especially when you add water.
Consider a theme before you begin. Generously filled baskets in a single colour have real impact. Alternatively, a multi-coloured or carefully co-ordinated scheme cascading with trailing flowers adds drama to any blank wall.
Popular summer hanging basket plants:
Popular winter hanging basket plants:
- Winter pansy
- Winter flowering heather
- Trailing ivy
Don’t forget that, in the correct season, you can also use hanging baskets to grow fruit and vegetables. Cherry tomatoes, blackberries and strawberries are ideal – not only do they look pretty, slugs and snails find it harder to reach your crop.
How to plant a hanging basket
Watch our short video to see how to plant up your hanging baskets
For a step-by-step guide to planting a hanging basket, watch our quick video above for expert tips. Here’s a summary:
- Prepare your compost by mixing a handful of controlled-release fertiliser granules and some water-retaining gel into peat-free multi-purpose compost.
- Stand your wire hanging basket on a bucket or pot to keep it steady. You may need to remove the hanging chains.
- Cover the inside of the basket with a coconut fibre liner. Garden centres stock a variety of liner material. Trim to fit.
- To prevent too much water escaping, lay a plastic bin liner inside the coconut fibre and trim to fit so it’s not visible.
- Half fill the basket with compost. At soil level, make three cuts, 2cm (0.75in) across, through the bin liner and the fibre at the sides of the basket.
- Select plants for the sides of the basket and to prevent damage to roots and stems, individually wrap each in a tube of paper. From the inside of the basket, push the tube through one of the holes until the rootball is snug against the liner. Unwrap the paper and add the other plants. Firm soil around the rootballs.
- Fill the basket with compost up to 3cm from the rim and decide how to arrange the plants on the top. Place trailing varieties around the outer edges and more structural plants in the middle.
- Water well.
How to care for hanging baskets
Hanging baskets need not be restricted to a pair of brackets either side of your front door. Try hanging them from fences, sheds, garden buildings and summerhouses. You can suspend them from tree branches or use them to liven up a boring garage wall.
Once the basket is in place, check that it gets enough sun and rain and follow a few simple tips to keep it at its best:
- Baskets need regular watering in summer, at least once a day unless the compost already feels wet.
- Check winter baskets regularly to keep the compost moist. Try not to get the plants wet when watering to prevent rot.
- Regularly deadhead flowers for a longer display.
- Use a liquid fertiliser from April to September.
We hope that hanging baskets will extend your growing space throughout the summer and into the winter. Tried something unusual? Tell us about it over on our Facebook page.
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