How to hang baskets and containers
Whether your garden is small or sprawling, containers and hanging baskets are an easy and effective way to add colour and brightness to it.
Hanging baskets are great if you want to add splashes of colour throughout your garden or bring nature right up to your house door. You can hang them from a bracket fixed to a wall, be it the house or a wall in the garden. They can also be attached to fences or suspended from porch beams.
They are quick and easy to prepare and give your garden months of colour.
Choosing pots and plants
Containers come in all shapes and sizes – small pots to large troughs, half barrels to small window boxes. They also come in all sorts of different materials such as plastic, terracotta, wood, wire and stone. When choosing a container consider the site – natural materials look good with traditional buildings or amongst plants, while plastics suit more modern environments. The sizes of plants should also be considered. Put simply, you don’t want a tiny plant in a huge pot, or a large plant in a pot that’s too small, as it will constantly need re-potting. Provide plenty of large drainage holes in the bottom and ensure ceramic pots are frost proof. You can use sinks, buckets, old chimney pots, even your old wellies! Be creative and use your imagination.
There are lots of plants that thrive in containers and hanging baskets. Ideal hanging basket plants include: clematis, dwarf conifers, patio roses, fuchsia, lobelia, ivy, impatiens (busy lizzie), begonias, petunias, and fruits such as strawberry. Trailing plants are also a good choice for baskets.
If planting bulbs in your hanging baskets, good options would be crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils.
It takes about 20-30 minutes to plant up a container or basket. Choose your container, then add drainage material, such as broken pot or crockery chips or gravel. You could also line the container with bubblewrap to protect against frost and reduce water loss.
Add good quality potting compost containing fertiliser to just below the rim of pot. Bulbs should be planted towards the bottom of the pot at three times their depth. Put a permanent plant in the centre of a pot or at ends of window boxes. Trailing plants should be placed around the edges to allow them to trail over the edges. Small blocks can be placed beneath pots to help drainage.
When selecting plants, think about where they are going. Don’t plant tall growing plants in a window box as they’d block the light, making your room a little dark, not to mention making it a little tricky to see out! For year-round colour, choose a selection of evergreens – ivy is good, and it flowers, too.
Planting hanging baskets
Hanging baskets are usually made from lightweight wire frames, plastic or natural fibres. Half baskets or troughs are suited to garden walls. Make sure your bracket is secure and strong as when the basket is planted up with compost and plants, and watered, it can get quite heavy.
Place the bottom of a basket inside a bucket so that it doesn’t wobble about (make sure it’s wider than the bucket so it doesn’t fall in). The side plants will hang down as you plant them. Place a basket liner inside or you could use moss or leaves with a tray in the base to conserve water. Half fill the basket with good quality potting compost.
Plant a mixture of foliage and flowering plants or even a mass of the same kind which will give more impact to the look of your garden. With wire baskets, gently push small plants from the outside through the sides of the basket. Take care not to damage the roots. Small plug plants are excellent for this. Top up with the potting compost, add a central large plant, and then work outwards with smaller plants.
Water well and keep out of full sun for a week before hanging up. In the autumn, the baskets can be re-potted for the spring with a mixture of bulbs, trailing ivies, winter pansies and evergreens. Plant trailing ivies in the sides of the basket, and add five or six winter pansies at the top. Position five or six crocus or dwarf irises between the pansies but below the compost. Hang in a sheltered sunny spot and keep well watered.
Caring for your basket and container plants
Watering: pots and baskets dry out quickly, so ensure to water frequently – perhaps twice daily during summer. Avoid watering in the heat of the day.
Feeding: if you didn’t add fertiliser when planting, a few plant food tablets can be added between the plants. Simply push them into the soil to finger depth. Give a weekly liquid feed to help plants stay healthy and flower for longer.
Pest control: control greenfly and blackfly with sprays. Snails often breed under ceramic pots. They can be controlled with a slug or snail remedy.
Deadheading: snip off dead flowers regularly to promote new growth.
Savvy pot plant tips
Sow direct: sow seeds and trailing nasturtiums directly into compost.
Use gel: add water-retaining gel into the compost to help prevent compost from drying out or use special basket compost that already contains this gel.
Save water: when watering, place a pot underneath to catch excess water.
Use leftovers: when planting deep containers such as chimney pots, don’t waste compost, use the leftover compost of last year’s grow bags to fill the bottom half or put a large plastic pot in the top.
Caring for container plants in winter
Create colour in winter with winter pansies, ornamental cabbages, primulas, ivy and small conifers. When temperatures drop, put containers under cover. If you have no room insulate by surrounding pots with newspaper or bubblewrap. Keep clay or ceramic pots raised off the ground.
Winter baskets benefit from a dense liner to protect the roots from freezing. An old jumper cut up or a few sheets of newspaper are ideal.
What you will need:
- Watering can
- Potting compost
- Slow-release fertiliser
- Water-retaining gel
- Moss, leaves or liner
- Plants of your choice