If you’re passionate about pansies and gaga for geraniums, then here is your guide to creating your very own stunning hanging baskets come rain or shine. Unsure about what plants to use, when to plant them or how your basket should be arranged?
We answer all of these questions and more, as well as giving you some helpful tips and tricks along the way!
WHY HAVE HANGING BASKETS?
Instead of asking “Why have hanging baskets?” the question should be “Why not?!” Hanging baskets are a great way of creating a tidy, clean and professional looking outdoor area, whether it’s for your own back garden or the entrance of an office.
In 2009, designer Paul Williams wrote in The Telegraph that, “drama and lavish extravagance is what I love about hanging baskets, with their lush cascades of flowers.” He also states that they’re a great way to avoid run-of-the-mill garden designs as each basket will be different, depending on how you want to decorate it in relation to your garden.
There are a great deal of different hanging baskets available, including solid plastic ones with water reservoirs, woven wicker baskets for a more earthy, homemade feel and wire framed ones for a more modern touch.
But hanging baskets are a great place to get creative; if you choose to make the basket yourself, you could do anything from planting up a watering can, to hanging a few colanders up together containing small, flowering plants!
But whatever material you choose to use, the size of the basket is really important. A basket that’s too small for your plants will need regular watering and pruning. The bigger the basket the better in this instance, as a bigger basket leads to higher water retention which means less maintenance and greater opportunity for bigger and more vibrant plants.
It helps if you have a particular plant in mind before deciding what size to go for, because then you can suit the basket to the flower, instead of the flower to the basket.
The lining of the basket is really important, as it will either help or hinder water retention in the soil. Below are some popular liners and what to expect from them:
Naturally free of bugs and insects, sphagnum moss is excellent at water retention because of its thick, lush texture and largely dry and empty cells, making it prevalent in peat bogs, marshes and mires. However, although it looks nice in the basket, it can be tedious to work with.
These liners are normally bought as a pre-moulded structure to fit certain size baskets and help to create a tidy presentation. But their thickness makes them unsuitable for planting on the sides, so if you’re after a more rustic feel to your basket it’s best to look elsewhere.
Burlap lining is a very cheap and flexible material that is environmentally friendly. It’s therefore an excellent choice for the more organic gardener. This lining is treated with copper to slow the degradation process, but retains almost no water.
Possibly the most versatile liner around for hanging baskets, Supamoss is filled with holes that allow for proper drainage. But because of the thick plastic coating, the moss can also retain enough water for your plants. The liner looks natural, despite being the most artificial of the four mentioned, and the material is malleable, so you can adjust it to suit your plants.
Once you have selected and fitted your liner, it’s time to start placing in the soil. Make sure the first layer of soil is between four and five inches above the base of the basket, then pad it down firmly to provide a solid background.
Some gardeners like to insert a drainage pipe into their basket in order to evenly distribute air and water. If you are going to do this, make sure that you leave three or four inches of soil between the bottom of the pipe and the base of the basket. Otherwise, water will just drain straight through the basket and onto the ground!
Once your soil and drainage are in place, put the bulbs of your desired plants into the base of the basket, just below the soil. Make small incisions to your liner if needed, but be aware not to make an incision that’s too big, otherwise too much soil may spill out when watering.
WHICH PLANTS FOR WHICH SEASON?
Spring (March – June)
Pansies are always a firm favourite for gardeners in the spring as they are a hardy plant that can withstand any late snowfall or lingering frost.
Their name comes from the French pensee meaning â€˜a thought’/’hearts ease’, so giving a hanging basket full of pansies as a gift would be ideal for someone special to you.
They also prefer slightly acidic and well drained soil, which makes them well suited to the environment of a hanging basket.
To make your basket even more stunning you could also add a trailing lobelia to hang out of the sides of the basket, whilst the pansies sit on the top. However, you may need to purchase a frost cover for when the temperature falls as lobelias are less hardy than pansies.
Summer (June – September)
Vibrancy and variety are key to a great summer hanging basket, with between 6-8 plants from 2-3 different species ideal.
Fuchsias, yuccas and geraniums are the most popular choices at this time of year, as they provide the colours most associated with summer.
Alternatively, if you want to go for just the one plant then petunias would be best, as they are rapid growers and quickly crowd any other plants nearby.
Autumn (September – December)
The viola ochre is a good plant to have in your autumn hanging basket as the trailing colours of deep blue, purple, white and red typify the colours associated with autumn days and nights. They also prefer a mix of full sun exposure and partial shade, which again is typical of autumn.
Mini cyclamen can be used as standing plants inside the basket, as these vibrant, scented plants can withstand harsh frost.
Cineraria silver dust plants are great plants for adding backdrop to your hanging basket, as their bright silver colour gives something original to your garden.
Winter (December – March)
Most gardeners tend to not bother with gardening in general in the winter months, let alone tend to a hanging basket, but if you’re determined to keep your hanging basket looking beautiful all year round, there is one plant that works well in frosty conditions.
Solanum plants are probably one of the hardiest of plants out there; these plants can survive some of the most severe of winters intact and still keep their deep orange/purple colours.
One thing to remember is that since it is winter, they will not need watering as much as other months, although regular check-ups are still recommended.
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Do you have any hanging baskets tips? Share your know-how below in the comments.
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