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How to plant hanging baskets

How to plant hanging baskets
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Hanging baskets are a great way to add a splash of colour to the outside of your house. They look beautiful, smell lovely and can be planted up with just about anything. They’re also really easy to do, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to plant hanging baskets:

  1. Choose your plants

The first thing you need to do to create a beautiful hanging basket is to choose the plants. Here are some suggestions on what to use during the year:

A spring basket:

ColourCentre PlantsTrailing Plants
Hedera (ivy)
Aubrieta Kitty

A summer basket:

ColourCentre PlantsTrailing Plants
Dwarf Hebes
Hedera (ivy)
Lobelia (trailing)
Petunia Surfina
Fuchsia (trailing)
Petunia Tumbelina
Bacopa White
Geranium (ivy leaf)
Helichrysum Silver
Begonia (hanging)
New Guinea impatiens
Lobelia (bush)

An autumn or winter basket:

ColourCentre PlantsTrailing Plants
Coloured Heather
Hedera (ivy)Pansy
Coloured Heather
Mini Cyclamen

Whatever plants you decide to use, it’s really important to make sure they’re healthy. Looks for ones with several stems as they’ll grow better.

Also, you don’t have to just grow flowers in your basket, strawberries and tomatoes grow really well in hanging baskets too.

2. Choose your basket

There are three types of baskets you can choose from. Each one has its own benefits, but the choice really comes down to what you like.

Wire-mesh baskets.
These allow for planting on both the sides and top of the hanging basket.

Rattan baskets.
These look great and have a plastic liner for water retention.

Plastic baskets.
These insulate against the wind and sun, so are better at holding on to water. But they can’t have the sides planted.

3. What you need to buy

The number of plants you’ll need depends on their size and type, but for a standard 35cm wire-mesh basket you will need about:

  • 1 to 3 centre plants
  • 5 plants for colour
  • 7 to 9 trailing plants

For a plastic or rattan basket with solid sides, you will need fewer plants. Allow for about:

  • 1 to 3 centre plants
  • 3 plants for colour
  • 6 trailing plants

Whichever basket you choose you’ll also need to buy:

  • Some hanging basket compost or peat-free multi-purpose compost (about 12 litres for a 35cm basket)
  • A wood-fibre basket liner or moss
  • Controlled-release fertiliser granules (only needed if using multi-purpose compost)
  • Water-retaining gel (only needed if using multi-purpose compost)

4. Prepare the hanging basket

First of all, put your basket on a bucket for stability (it’ll help when planting). Then use a wood-fibre liner or moss to line your basket. To help even more with water retention, put a saucer (or piece of bin bag) at the bottom of the basket.

Now mix some compost with a handful of controlled-release fertiliser granules and some water-retaining gel. Add it to the basket and pat it down until it’s about 8cm below the top.

If you’ve used moss to line the basket push some compost up at the edges and pull some moss over the top of it – this will give the plants a soft edge to trail over.

5. Plant the basket (the fun bit)

If you’re using a wire-mesh basket, start from the bottom and work your way up the sides. Plant one set of trailing plants just above the saucer (or bin liner), and another set about 8cm below the top of the basket.

To make life a bit easier, wrap the rootballs of the plants in small plastic bags or newspaper to push them through the mesh. But don’t forget to remove these before you cover the plant with soil.

As soon as you’ve positioned all the side plants, add more compost to within 2cm of the basket rim.

Now add in the centre plants and plants for colour to the top. Before you remove them from their containers, give them a good drink of water.

Firm the soil around the base of each plant and sprinkle another tablespoon of controlled-release fertiliser granules over the soil.

6. Water and feed

Hanging baskets are really easy to look after – but are susceptible to the cold. Here’s a guide on when to water and where to position them.

  • On hot, dry days, water the basket straight away (once or twice a day) and hang it in the shade for a while.
  • On cold, damp days, wait until it warms up a bit before watering.
  • In normal weather conditions hang the basket outside wherever you like.

As for feeding, even if you’ve used a controlled-release fertiliser with your compost, your plants will benefit from extra feeding – especially during the growing season in spring and summer. So buy a liquid fertiliser and follow the on-pack instructions.