Knowing how to grow a hanging basket is essential to having a final product full of life and color. A poorly planted hanging basket will be nothing but a depressing eyesore.
A major garden trend, hanging baskets are a great way to add color and character to your garden. Whether you have a spacious plot of land, a small front garden, or just a balcony, a hanging basket is a great opportunity to bring life to your space.
Hanging baskets are known to be difficult, however, they are one of the best easy garden ideas – all you have to do is know how to grow a hanging basket and remember to water it regularly.
What do you need to hang baskets?
An essential of front garden ideas, hanging baskets should be full of color and life. To ensure your basket gets the best start in life, make sure you have all the essentials. You can buy them online or at your local garden center – you may already have some to deliver to your potting shed.
- Lined hanging basket (the bigger the better)
- Clay pot or bucket
- Multi-Purpose Compost – Find out where to buy compost online
- A selection of plants
- Sturdy wall mount can support the weight of the basket and its watery contents
These basics will help you create a stunning hanging basket that can be used to decorate your outdoor walls to transform an uninspiring space into a lively space.
Growing a Hanging Basket – Step by Step Guide
1. Prepare your basket
Place your basket in a clay pot or bucket to steady it while you work. Make several holes in the liner, which can be plastic, moss, coir or jute, to allow water to drain. This also allows you to grow trailing plants around the sides through the lining.
2. Start with fertilizer
Using a shovel or flower pot, fill the basket halfway with a specialist container compost – such as Miracle-Gro Peat Free Moisture Control Compost from B&Q. The compost in the container must contain added nutrients and be adept at retaining water.
3. Add fertilizer and water-saving gel
Add a slow-release fertilizer to make sure your plants get all the nutrients they need to produce stunning blooms.
You can also add a water saving gel – like Westland Water Saving Gel from Amazon. When watered, the gel will absorb four times its weight in water and then release slowly preventing hanging baskets from drying out.
For larger hanging baskets, Mick Lavelle, senior lecturer in horticulture at Writtle University College, recommends adding a plant pot to the center of your hanging basket. Place a small flower pot in the center of the basket, with its rim directly below the basket, and fill the pot with planks or pebbles. This will make watering easier and help prevent splashing over the sides.
Follow the thriller/thriller/filler rule to create a dramatic presentation.
“Start with the largest, most dramatic plant in the center of the basket, such as fuchsia, geranium or small dahlia, to create structure and impact,” advises Sarah Squire of Squire Garden Centers.
5. Add excess plants
Now comes the spilling part, place three or four trailing plants evenly around the sides. Tilt it slightly, but make sure the roots are still covered in compost, as this will encourage them to slope down.
6. Fill in the blanks
Flowering plants such as verbena and small petunias are good fillers. Try planting the ivy close to the string and weaving it in to give the impression that the ivy is supporting the basket. Fill with more compost and firm gently.
7. Add mulch
Add mulch to reduce evaporation. You can choose any type of mulch, from small pebbles to bark fragments. Reducing evaporation will keep your plants looking healthy and reduce the need for frequent watering.
8. Hang the hanging basket
Install the wall mount according to the instructions and place your basket in a sunny location protected from wind and water well.
If you have not used a slow-release fertiliser, you will need to add a liquid feed along with watering – following the directions on your liquid feed.
Help plants put all their energy into establishing roots by cutting off early flowers. Once the plants get larger, you can allow them to bloom.
What is the best month to hang baskets?
Late spring and early summer are the best times to plant hanging baskets.
‘You can plant summer hanging baskets from April, but make sure you protect your plants from frost. If that’s not possible, wait until late May or early June. “With today’s unpredictable weather patterns, you’ll have to use your instinct to gauge the right time during this three-month period to embark on your hanging basket project,” advises Sarah Squire of Squire Garden Centers.
If you are planting early in the season, it is a good idea to hang your hanging basket under cover – perhaps in your greenhouse ideas. “If you don’t have somewhere you can hang the basket under cover, use a large pot with a diameter slightly smaller than the edge of the basket to allow the trailing plants to develop and hang so the basket can be moved and hung outside,” advises Mick Lavelle. .
How many plants do you put in a hanging basket?
The general rule is to use one plant for every two inches of soil area—this applies to larger plants such as petunias, fuchsias, or mixed plantings.
- For a 12-inch hanging basket, you should grow 6 plants
- For a 14-inch hanging basket, you should grow 7 plants
- For a 16-inch hanging basket, you should grow 8 plants
- For 18-inch hanging baskets, you should grow 9 plants
However, the main exception to this rule is if you are growing smaller plants, where you may need to double these amounts.
How to choose plants for your hanging basket?
You can grow almost any type of small container plant in a hanging basket.
‘Visit your local garden center for inspiration. Start with the central plant and don’t be afraid to remove some pots from the shelves to experiment with possible planting combinations. “It’s like arranging flowers in a vase, except nature is unpredictable and there may be some surprises in the plants’ growth patterns,” says garden expert Lee Clapp.
“Choose a mix of trailing and upright plants – geraniums, begonias, sweet peas and petunias work well. Trailing petunias and lobelia will make a big statement on your front porch. “Keep the baskets in a greenhouse or sheltered location until there is no danger of late frosts,” she advises. Sarah Squire of Squire Garden Centers.
Where should you place hanging plants?
There are plenty of places where hanging plants can be placed. Adding macrame-style hanging baskets to a pergola or seating area is a great way to channel your boho garden decor, while traditional patterns are a great addition to cottage garden ideas. They are also a stunning addition to patio ideas.
Don’t be afraid of this planting technique, and decorate your home with a hanging basket or two this spring and summer.