How To Make A Hanging Basket
Gardeners who are lucky enough to have a heated greenhouse or conservatory are able to start preparing their hanging baskets in early spring for a glorious summer display. Plants used for this purpose include annuals, both hardy and half hardy, begonias, fuchsias and pelargoniums.
However, these plants need protection from the cold and cannot be placed outside until all danger of frost has passed. You can still plant up hanging baskets now for outdoors, but make sure that you use hardy plants that will withstand the cold temperatures. Plants such as ivy, winter pansies, primroses and miniature evergreens will survive well and give good colour.
- Hanging basket, at least 14” for a good display
- Hanging basket liner or moss
- Good quality compost
- Slow release fertiliser granules
- Water retaining gel
- Lots of plants
- A small empty plastic drinks bottle or watering spikes
- An old newspaper
- Circular piece of polythene to fit the basket
Have everything ready
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the amount of slow release fertiliser granules and water retaining gel and mix thoroughly with the compost. Water all the basket plants and leave for a while to drain. Remove one of the basket chains to give you plenty of room to work. Cut off the bottom of a plastic drinks bottle to serve as a funnel.
Prepare the basket
Rest the basket on a bucket or something that will hold it steady and insert the liner. There are many types of liner and lining materials but don’t be tempted to collect sphagnum moss from the wild as it cannot be replaced easily. Hanging baskets can easily dry out under the summer sun so to help preserve moisture place a circle of polythene on the liner making sure that the edge doesn’t show above the basket rim. A section of an empty compost bag works well.
Fill with plants
Place a thin layer of compost-mix in the bottom of the basket, about 1-2” deep, then with a sharp knife cut about 3 x 1½” slits around the basket through the polythene and liner. Choose the plants that will be the bottom layer of your display. Remove them from their pots; lay each on a strip of newspaper then roll up to form a tube. This protects the plants from damage as you push them through the holes you have made. Carefully press them through from the inside, until the root ball rests on the liner then take off the newspaper. Add more compost-mix until you reach two-thirds up the basket and make 5 x 1½” slits as before, to take your next layer of plants. The final layer of compost should end about 1” below the rim of the basket to give you enough room for planting the top layer of plants.
Caring for your basket
After firming down the top layer of plants, push the plastic drinks bottle into the compost so that the neck is covered and the body of the bottle points straight up. Position it at the back of the basket so it will be hidden by the foliage.
Water your basket thoroughly and allow draining before hanging it in a nice sunny position. Summer baskets are usually filled with flowers that like the sun but spring baskets can sometimes take light shade depending on the varieties used. Baskets will need to be watered every day in the summer and even twice a day in very hot weather. Filling the open ended bottle will make watering easier.
As the flowers grow, pinch out any dead or dying blooms to give you repeat flowering; never let seeds develop. At the height of the summer season you may wish to top up the feed, but check the instructions on the slow release fertiliser you used initially as some will provide enough nutrients to last all the way through.