Hanging baskets are a fantastic way to add a pop of colour to otherwise bleak walls and fences. They are also terrific for brightening up decking areas and patios.
Creating beautiful hanging baskets is easy when you know how, so we have created this ultimate guide to help you add dimension to your garden.
Choosing a style
Before gathering everything you need, a good starting point is to have an idea of the finished look you’re trying to achieve. There is a huge selection of baskets and plants available so it can save time to choose a colour scheme and style before going shopping. For example, some people will choose to have just rich green foliage tumbling down for length, and others might prefer a big voluminous ball of colour with fuchsia and geraniums.
The most popular basket in Ireland and the UK is a wire basket, but there are also solid-sided plastic and wicker baskets. Each of these baskets come in a variety of sizes. Choosing what type of basket is a matter of personal visual preference, although woven wicker baskets are not the most durable in wet weather. Larger baskets require less maintenance. If a basket is small in proportion to the plants, it will need more care – watering and pruning. Where possible go for a large size, about 14-16 inches. It will retain water better, provide more rooting space and nutrient-rich compost and allow your plants the room to grow and bloom fully.
The lining for the basket is the more critical choice as it has an important function in creating the optimum environment for your plants. The right liner will provide the perfect balance between drainage and water retention. The most popular and reasonably priced liner is the cocoa liner, which is a thick, pre-moulded liner made from natural fibres. It holds water well with good drainage and aeration. Sphagnum moss is an alternative that works well, but it is difficult to work with. Burlap is another inexpensive and environmentally friendly liner option, but it does not retain water. Lastly Supamoss, which is probably the most versatile liner. It has good drainage, is easy to work with and looks natural. Sometimes wicker baskets come with their own plastic liner, you may need to punch holes in the plastic to allow for drainage.
Once you have picked your basket and liner now it is time to choose the ingredients to fill the basket. The most suitable compost for hanging baskets is a peat-free, multipurpose compost. For best results controlled-release food granules and water retention gel can be added to the compost.
While some of the best options for hanging baskets include trailing plants, nearly all plants will work given the right growing conditions. It is very important to choose a plant that is suitable for the intended area. If your garden gets a lot of sunlight some of these sun loving plants would make brilliant choices – verbena, geranium, licorice vine, water hyssop, moss water and many others. Just don’t forget that hanging baskets have a tendency to dry out faster so keep them well watered and check on them daily.
Fern, silver bells, fuchsia, pansy and tuberous begonia are plants that are suitable for areas that are in full to partial shade.
Planting a Hanging Basket
- It is helpful to stand the basket in a pot to keep it steady.
- Insert the liner into the basket, making sure it is well fitted into the basket as not to hinder drainage.
- If you are using controlled-release food granules and water retention gel; mix them into the peat-free multi-purpose compost and then press it firmly into the bottom of the basket to a depth of 1 inch.
- Above the compost level, make three small cuts through the liner at the sides of the basket, they should be less than an inch in size. This allows the plants to grow out from the sides for the best visual results.
- Wrap the plants you want to grow from the sides in paper and gently push them through the holes from the inside of the liner. When the side plants are through the paper can be removed.
- Add firm compost around the roots of the side plants and then fill the basket with more compost to approximately two thirds capacity.
- Then add the rest of your plants and then fill with compost until the basket is near full.
Care and Maintenance
- Hanging baskets dry out quickly, for this reason it is very important to check them every day during fine weather. The compost should be kept moist at all times. Most hanging baskets need to be watered every day in summer.
- Feed plants with a suitable liquid plant feed every week.
- Deadhead the plants to encourage new growth.