Whatever size of garden you have, hanging baskets can always make a lovely feature.
Even if you only have a flat with a balcony, attaching a hanging basket bracket at the top or side of the window over the balcony can give you some colour and scent to enjoy.
In a larger garden, baskets can be hung on the house wall or on an external wall or fence to brighten up a spot with no flowers in summer.
Choosing your basket
While the plants are important, what’s even more vital is what you put them in. A huge range of hanging basket designs are available from garden centres and by mail order or internet purchase and you need to choose one that is going to work for you:
- Traditional baskets are usually made from coated metal into which you put a liner, either a fibre or cardboard one, or just handfuls of moss.
- Plastic baskets are easy to plant but the basic ones just have space for plants at the top, so make sure you use plenty of trailing plants to give the effect you want.
- Specially designed hanging baskets are also available with side holes and some with trellis-filled inserts that you pop out and then in again once you have put your plant in place. These work well but, again, you need to choose the plants carefully so that you don’t see the plastic. Less is definitely more in this case.
Foundations of a successful hanging basket
The compost is also very important. One of the main problems with hanging baskets is that they become a garden maintenance problem in hot weather. To keep them growing well, you need to water at least once a day, sometimes twice.
With one basket that’s fair enough, but if you have a few, it can become a tedious chore.
It’s possible to buy compost for hanging baskets that has integral moisture holding material mixed in.
This means that the water you put in stays in there longer. Couple that with a plastic hanging basket container, which has a solid base, or put a saucer in the bottom of a traditional basket, and you won’t be so at risk of your basket drying out.
Choosing and planting the contents
You can really plant anything in a hanging basket. Successful winter baskets can be made easily using winter flowering pansies, spring bulbs such as miniature narcissi and crocuses and/or violas.
You can add ivy for a trailing plant or two, and these will last from October right through until April the following year.
Winter baskets are easier to maintain as they don’t need watering as often.
For summer, you have a huge choice of plants. Fuchsias, lobelia, petunias and small daisies are very popular.
When you plant make sure you have some bushy plants in the centre and some at the top of the sides, and then plenty of trailing plants coming from the sides and over the sides.
Always overfill a hanging basket when planting rather than underfilling. It will look good from day one and the more of the soil that is covered, the better the water retention.
Of course, you don’t need to use flowers – a hanging basket with cherry tomato plants can look fantastic – and you can eat the contents.
Top tips for maintaining your hanging baskets
- Always water in well and then water regularly in summer, even when it rains. Pots, particularly full ones, may not get much water even in a reasonable downpour.
- Feed your plants well. You can do this easily by placing controlled release plant food tablets into the compost. You need about four for an average sized basket – just push them beneath the surface of the compost, evenly spaced, and the nutrients will leach out slowly over the next six months. If you prefer to use a soluble plant food, use it regularly, about once every month for the best results.
- Deadhead and trim dead leaves. This will encourage more flowering and will keep the baskets looking fresh.
Image – Hanging Baskets. Jameson Street, Kingston upon Hull