Photo found on Flickr, courtesy of emmamccleary.
Hanging baskets are infectious. Whether it’s the burst of color against an otherwise drab looking space, or the incongruity of flowers positioned in the air, hanging baskets always evoke a good feeling. No matter where it’s placed, a hanging basket manages to immediately brighten its surroundings and transform any area.
Hanging baskets are also versatile and as well as enhancing a sunny wall can be used to add interest to porches and conservatories. And you don’t have to plant only flowers in your hanging basket; an indoor basket next to a window can provide fresh herbs all year round. Below are some tips on how to get perfect hanging baskets this season.
When planting your hanging basket, always ensure the young plants and seedlings are at the right stage: they should be sturdy, well-rooted, and ready for transplantation. If you’re using a wire mesh basket you will need to line it to prevent the soil from falling out.
There are a number of liners available on the market nowadays to choose from; however, moss makes an excellent liner as it provides good drainage and high humidity, both of which are important for helping your plants grow. You will have to water your baskets more often if you use moss, though.
And while you may find artificial liners easier to use, don’t forget that you’ll have to make holes in them in order to position your plants in the basket.
The plastic pot type containers can only be planted from the top, and while this type of container is easy to use, it doesn’t allow you to position your plants around the circumference of the basket to give a full, luxurious effect. This can result in more container than plant showing, which can look unattractive.
When using a wire mesh basket and moss, line the bottom with a layer of moss about an inch thick and build up this layer until it’s halfway up the circumference of the basket. Then fill the center of the basket with moist, free draining, soil-free potting mix, preferably one that’s been specially prepared for hanging baskets.
Position the first layer of plants by carefully pushing the root ball and leaves through the wire mesh into the potting mix, leaving the plants’ foliage falling through the gaps in the basket. Pack plenty of moss around the plants and fill in the center of the basket with potting mix, gently firming around the root balls. Finish off the top with a layer of moss to improve the look of the basket and to help conserve water.
To get the best effect from your hanging basket, put plenty of plants in it. A good rule of thumb is to place one plant per inch of basket diameter which means that you’ll need 12 plants for a 12-inch basket. This number of plants will ensure that your hanging basket is a flurry of color and interest during the season and that little, if any, of the basket shows.
Once planted, give your hanging basket a very good watering with a watering-can equipped with a rose head to settle the potting mix around the root balls. Then place it in a shady, sheltered spot, bringing it indoors each evening until the plants are well established and all risk of frost has passed.
Unless you’ve used shade loving plants in your basket, position it so that it’s in the sun for most of the day. Keep the potting mix moist, but not water-logged, by watering frequently, usually at least once a day during hot weather.
Clip off faded flower heads regularly to ensure continued growth. From June onwards, it’s best to feed with a good liquid fertilizer once a week. A monthly feed of a high nitrogen plant food will prevent the foliage yellowing.
Herbs and Vegetables
Baskets of herbs and vegetables need a little more attention than flower baskets but they can be productive as well as attractive so it’s worth devoting a little more time to them. Baskets must never be allowed to dry out so it’s best to line a basket with polyethylene. Basil, sage, thyme, marjoram, and chives are suitable herbs for growing in a basket.
Vegetables need a little more space than bedding plants: tomatoes and peppers should be planted three to a 14-inch basket, while you should plant one cucumber per basket.
Grow in a sheltered spot and feed weekly with a high nitrogen plant food.
Jane Darragh is a freelance writer who writes about all aspects of “thrifty living,” including gardening and green issues. She enjoys cycling, swimming, and exploring her new homeland of western Canada (although not necessarily by bike!).