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Create a beautiful hanging basket to last all summer

Hanging baskets can create a stunning display in your garden, adding a pop of colour against a blank, otherwise boring wall or as a beautiful feature on a porch or by the front door.

And, what’s even better, if you carry out some simple steps when you’re planting your hanging basket – and provide some basic ongoing care – it will go on being a thing of beauty all summer long.

Here’s our guide to create a successful hanging basket.

Choose your basket.

The most popular type of hanging basket is a metal cage, although there are other options and you can get creative by upcycling things you may already have such as an old colander or bowl. If you do choose something “solid” you will need to create drainage holes in the bottom to prevent your hanging basket becoming waterlogged.

If you go with the more traditional cage type, it will need to be lined to hold the soil. There are a variety of options available to buy including landscaping fabric, coir and moss. You can even rake moss up from the lawn and use it to line your basket – create a layer about half an inch thick.

Make sure you choose the right size to fit your basket.

Make watering easy

A top tip at this point is to add an impermeable material, such as a circle of polythene, or an old plant saucer – around half the basket’s diameter – which will stop water running straight out of the bottom during watering.

You may also want to consider adding your own watering channel by placing a small flowerpot in the center of the basket, and filling it with gravel or shingle. Its rim should be just below that of the basket.

Cut holes for your trailers

Unless you plan to include lots of voluminous trailing plants in your hanging basket, you may want to cut a few holes evenly around the sides of your liner, to allow some of the plants to grow outwards.

Use a sharp knife, and consider adding two tiers of holes in larger baskets.

When you add your compost, initially only fill it up to be level with the bottom of the holes. Then, carefully insert the plants through the openings. It’s a good idea to wrap delicate plants in a paper cone to protect them while pushing them through.

Fill with compost

Next, pack in the compost around them, firming it in to keep the plants securely in place.

Fill in the basket with compost to three quarters full, then plant your top layer.

Use good multipurpose compost and consider adding a handful of water-retaining crystals to keep it moist for as long as possible.

Add your plants

A winning formula is to have a central “thriller”, or focal point, and then add “fillers” around the edge and some “spillers” which trail over the sides.

Good thriller plants for hanging baskets include pelargoniums, begonias, osteospermums, angelonia, argyranthemums, nicotiana and heliotropes.

For your filler plants, include some foliage such as purple-leaved heuchera, compact carex, silver-leaved artemisia or purple sage, which will be a perfect foil for colorful blooms. Good filler flowers are erigeron and nemesia.

Ideal spiller plants for hanging baskets are lobelia, bacopa, ivy, fuschias, verbena, convolvulus and nasturtiums.

Consider restricting your choice to one or two shades of complementary hues, such as pink and purple, or even fill the basket with just one variety for a simple, elegant statement piece.

Whatever you choose, plant hanging baskets generously to ensure they look full, spacing plants more closely than traditional planting schemes. 

Plant a mini kitchen garden

Alternatively, consider growing your own mini kitchen garden in a hanging basket, as they make fantastic vegetable garden container ideas. 

Good crops to grow in hanging baskets include herbs, salad leaves, strawberries and tomatoes.

Keep it looking good

Give your hanging baskets a thorough initial watering and then check daily to see if the soil is dry. If it feels moist, there is no need to water.

Regularly deadhead to keep your plants blooming right to the end of summer.

 

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