Hanging baskets look fantastic. There is nothing nicer than walking down a street lined with weeping baskets brimming over with verdant foliage and glorious blooms. Hanging baskets however, can also be very tricky. They can be hard to get started, and more importantly, hard to keep going all summer long. Plants held captive in a hanging basket often rebel by dying off pretty quickly. Fortunately, we’ve put this guide together to help you get your baskets off to a flying start to last right from the spring, and all the way through the summer.

 

Baskets

First off, select which type of basket you’re going to invest in. You can generally choose from rattan, wire-mesh, or plastic baskets. Remember that you will be re-using the basket every year, and you may wish to plant one up during the winter months too. It makes sense to opt for the best you can afford in the hope that it will give you many years of planting fun. You might also need to install some wall brackets to hang the basket from but many houses already come prepared so look carefully for any you might not have noticed before.

 

Now comes time to prepare your basket for planting. It’s really worth spending time to get this stage right as your basket lining forms both a barrier and the root of good water retention. Firstly, line the basket with material that is going to look nice from the outside. Moss looks great and is quite traditional, you can also choose from coir lining or even wood fibre depending on the overall look you’re aiming for. Next, mix up some compost – either buy specialist hanging basket compost or make your own. Whichever option, it is essential that you add some water gel crystals and some slow release fertiliser granules. Hanging baskets are actually pretty tough environments for plants, so whatever you can do to help them out is well received. Water gel crystals puff up when you add water and help to make sure the basket doesn’t dry out.

 

Planting

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a traditional three-layered basket. This means you should use about three upright plants in the centre, a further three around the middle layer for colour, and another six trailing plants as a final layer at the edge of your basket. Fill any gaps with more compost then give everything a good water with a dash of added liquid fertiliser.

 

 

Alternatives

Strawberries can also be grown in hanging baskets. In fact, growing them this way helps to reduce the opportunity for slug attacks and they have great trailing fronds that weep down over the edge, lovely green leaves and of course, those delicious red fruits to add interest and colour once they get going. Strawberries can be very vulnerable in the veg patch and often need quite close attention. Popping them in a hanging basket often means they are closer to the house – which means you are closer to those perfectly ripe fruits once they’re ready. Win, win.