Create Your Own Beautiful Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets create the definitive finishing touch to the outside of any home. They soften brickwork, create a colourful welcome in doorways, and add a dash of style to seating or patio areas.
You can buy them ready made, but it’s not as hard as you might imagine to create your own, and doing it yourself opens so many more creative doors. You can choose which plants, which colours, how subtle, delicate or dramatic your display, and if you wanted you could even have hanging baskets that are purely foliage.
Here’s everything you need to know:
There’s a whole world of choice when it comes to plants for hanging baskets. Here are some of the most popular:
Petunias — Colourful, long lasting and constantly flowering, petunias create a wonderful display in a hanging basket and come in pure colours, veined varieties and striped versions.
Trailing Lobelia — Cascades of purple or white. Tiny flowers that make a big impact, they mix well with most other flower types, complementing and adding joy to a hanging display.
Pelargoniums - Lots of assorted colours and hues. With a downward growing habit, they’re perfect for filling up hanging baskets of any size. The lovely ivy leaves are pretty too, so it’s always a favourite.
Fuchsias - Trailing fuchsias are lovely in hanging baskets and with so many different colours available, they’re ideal companions to a variety of other flowering plants. They also make eye-catching displays when used on their own in baskets.
Trailing Verbena — Produces masses of vibrant flowers in a rainbow of colours.
Preparing Your Container
Good drainage is vital, so choose purpose made basket frames. They’re available at all good garden centre outlets.
Layer the bottom with a cardboard liner, wool matting, or moss to provide support for the compost and plants. It’s also a good idea to cut a circle of plastic (use the compost bag) to go in the bottom of the basket as this helps retain moisture. Don’t extent the plastic up the sides or you’ll prevent the necessary drainage happening.
Use hanging basket, container-gardening compost, or multipurpose compost for annual baskets. John Innes No. 2 is better for displays intended to last longer. Add some slow release fertiliser and water-retaining gel to the compost, mixed in thoroughly.
Add the plants in layers by first filling the bottom of the basket with compost to about a third full then adding the first layer of plants. Push the root balls between the wires and through the moss or wool matting so the roots are held firm in the compost. Add plants all around the edges of the basket so they’ll completely cover the container as they grow. You always need more plants than you think for full, bushy displays.
Add more compost to cover the roots and provide a base for the next layer, then add in more plants, firming the compost around the roots as you go.
Continue building up the basket in this way till you reach the top. Fill with compost to about an inch below the top of the container, with a dip in the middle to hold the water and prevent it running away off the edges. Plant the topmost plants, tidy up the others if necessary, then water the whole thing thoroughly before hanging.
Caring for Hanging Baskets
They need a lot of watering (even more than potted plants), even when it rains. Water at least once a day, and sometimes more if the weather is very warm and dry. A liquid feed will help promote healthy growth. Deadhead regularly, and take the basket down if it’s very windy as the flowers could get damaged.
Other plants you can use include busy lizzies, pansies or violas, as well as herbs such as parsley, thyme or mint. If you’re feeling extra adventurous or practical, why not include tumbling tomatoes, pea or bean plants that will trail over the sides.
There are no rules apart from creating a display that makes you smile when you look at it, so experiment and have fun with your hanging baskets. If you need some advice about any aspect of preparing, planting or caring for them, staff members at Ackworths Garden Centre are always on hand to help.