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! Click on one of the questions below to be taken to the answer.
- What are hanging baskets?
- Why have hanging baskets?
- What type of basket works best for hanging baskets?
- What type of liner should be used with hanging baskets?
- How do you plant hanging baskets?
- What hanging baskets like full sun?
- What hanging baskets do well in shade?
- What hanging baskets like the cold?
- Where do you hang hanging baskets?
- Why are my hanging baskets turning yellow?
- What flowers should I plant in my hanging baskets?
- How do you keep hanging baskets from drying out?
- When should you plant flowers in hanging baskets?
What are hanging baskets?
Hanging baskets are plants placed in a structure that is suspended from chains, ropes or other materials. They are primarily decorative plants around homes and other structures. They allow homes with limited garden space to still have fresh-grown living plants and flowers. The baskets themselves are usually made of wire and filled with a substance like burlap or some other growing medium. Hanging baskets come in a wide variety of styles and examples, from store-bought baskets to homemade baskets such as upside down clay pots.
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.
What type of basket works best for hanging baskets?
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.
What type of liner should be used with hanging baskets?
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:
- Sphagnum Moss – 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.
- Cocoa liners – 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 liners – 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.
- Supamoss – 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.
How do you plant hanging baskets?
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.
What hanging baskets like full sun?
There are a number of different plants for hanging baskets that can survive and even require full sun to thrive and make your home or property look colorful and vibrant. There are a number of different flowers that survive and thrive well in full sun. Some of them include:
- Million Bells – a relative of the petunia that does well when the temps rise and the sun hits them full on. Keep their soil moist and in the sun’s rays and they’ll keep blooming.
- Portulaca – also known as the moss rose, this brightly colored flower does well when placed in direct sunlight. The flowers open when the sun hits them and, when moved into shade, close up.
- Lantana – there are a number of lantana plants and most of them are known to gardeners as growing upright. However, a variety known as Lantana montevidensis grows 3 to 6 foot-long trailing branches that look fantastic from hanging baskets. They also love lots and lots of direct sunlight.
- Garden Verbena – A flower that just cannot get enough of the hot temps in the summer and loves the direct light from the sun. They grow bright, colorful, flowers in colors such as red, yellow, purple, pink and white.
Sweet Alyssum – a plant producing clusters of four-petaled flowers and they prefer the sun. There is even a variety which is hardy in winter, known as Snow Princess. They also develop trailing branches that will hang down from baskets.
What hanging baskets do well in shade?
One of the things that makes hanging baskets so popular is that they can grow a variety of plants for a wide variety of sunlight and temperature conditions. There are also a number of them that do well in shade or with more limited sunlight. Here are a few:
- Marguerite daisy – also sometimes referred to as “butterfly” it produced vibrant white, pink or yellow flowers that resemble daisies. Their flowers are known to actually attract butterflies and are very fragrant.
- Coleus– sometimes known as the Versa Green Halo. It a flowering plant known for vibrant greens and reds.
- Lobelia erinus – a genus of beautiful flowering plants that thrive in shade also known as Compact Royal Jewels. The flowers are blue or violet and have a particularly long flowering period that runs from middle-spring to fall. They are varieties that also come in colors such as pink, red, dark blue, purple and multiple colors. This has made them very popular in gardens, hanging baskets and window boxes
- New Guinea impatiens – Impatiens are very popular and favorite plants for homeowners because they come in such a variety of flowering plants in just as many wide and varied colors. They were first discovered growing in the wild way back in 1884 and became an instant hit in greenhouses and home gardens around the world. The Infinity White version does very well in shade.
- English ivy – a evergreen climbing plant known for its flowers and common to gardens all over the world. They thrive in a variety of areas, including waste areas. The flowers will produce themselves in late summer and thrive until late autumn. The flowers are very small, but the plant itself is famous for its vibrant green color and ability to climb just about everywhere, which makes them perfect for hanging baskets. Look for the Hedera helix or “Glacier” variety for shade-favoring versions.
What hanging baskets like the cold?
The great thing about hanging baskets is that they can be used to provide decorations and beauty to homes all year long. Although most people keep their hanging baskets up during spring, summer and early fall, bringing them back inside when the weather gets cold, there are hanging basket plants that thrive in the cold. Some of them include:
- Winter pansies – already they are one of the most popular flowers for hanging baskets around and that is at least partially because of their hardy nature and ability to thrive in a number of conditions. Some of the brighter varieties in white, red, yellow and primrose actually darken in color during the winter months.
- Winter violets – also a very popular plant for home gardeners due to their bright colors. They are also very hardy and produce a large number of flowers when they bloom. They are also known to remain upright in windy conditions and some varieties even grow in alpine regions.
- Primrose – a type of flowering plant native to Europe and the UK. Their flowers grow in a type group and come in a variety of different colors, all of which can do well in the cold. This can make for a colorful winter hanging basket.
- Cyclamen – a very hardy and colorful plant famous for being a kind of “set it and forget it” kind of plant. They come in purple, pink, red, and a whole bunch of other colors, too. They are hardy and like the cold, making for an easy, colorful hanging basket for winter.
- Polyanthus – a plant known to thrive in winter even during frosts. They are not as likely to flower during winter months, they will provide some needed green when everything else is gray or white.
- Ivy – another popular plant for hanging baskets and also famous for being hardy plants. Often they are combined with more brightly colored flowering plants to add a touch of green to the scene. There are also a few ivy varieties that have their own flowers.
Where do you hang hanging baskets?
Hanging baskets can be hung almost anywhere around a home or property. It all depends on the type of plants in hanging baskets. Most people put them on porches and areas where they want to add color and can easily hang metal or plastic hooks. Hooks that can be stuck into the ground can also be placed around fences and in gardens, with a variety of flowers and plants inside them. The exact placement is dependent upon whether or not the variety of flowers need lots of sun, or shade, high temps or low temps and how much water is needed.
Why are my hanging baskets turning yellow?
Usually there are a number of reasons plants and flowers wilt or turn yellow. The two most common reason is they are either not getting enough water or they are over-watered. Adjusting the amount of water needed can help. Sometimes the flower may be in the wrong type of sunlight, either too much or too little. Also, flowers do have a life cycle and may just turn yellow and die off when that life cycle is at an end.
What flowers should I plant in my hanging baskets?
The type of flowers you should plant in your hanging baskets depends on a number of factors. What types of flowers and colors do you want? Is it summer or winter where you are? What is the climate like in your area? Does your house get a lot of sun, or very little sun?
In general, the types of flowers that will grow over the edge of the wire hanging basket and crate long, trailing, branches are the preferred type of hanging basket flowers. Brightly colored blooms are also generally preferred to enhance the look of a garden or home.
How do you keep hanging baskets from drying out?
The first thing you need to do and understand about the flowers in your hanging baskets is to read about them and find out what their water needs are. Also make sure you understand if the variety of hanging basket flowers you are planting need hot climates or cooler ones. Make sure you water them according to the directions that either came with the flowers or ask the garden center experts.
When should you plant flowers in hanging baskets?
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.
Ambius is a leading provider of exterior landscaping services. Click here to learn more.
Do you have any hanging baskets tips? Share your know-how below in the comments.
Follow Sean Heffernan on Google+