So, do you buy your hanging basket ready-made from a garden centre, or plant it yourself? While it can be cheaper to buy a ready-made one, knowing how to make a hanging basket that will fill your garden with tremendous scent and colour is a wonderful achievement.
It’s a question many time-strapped gardeners ask themselves. You can snap up a filled basket, already brimming with blooms, for between £15-£20 from some online retailers and garden centres which, if you feed, water and deadhead religiously, should last through summer.
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Why make a hanging basket?
Indeed, you may not save any money opting to make up your own, once you factor in all the components involved (mature bedding, the basket itself, the liner, water-retaining crystals and slow-release plant food…), but there are certain advantages in planting up your own hanging basket.
You get to choose the style, exact plants and colours, as well as being safe in the knowledge you’ve put them in suitable compost containing all the nutrients they should need for summer. You may have sown seed earlier on, so have far more plants to disperse among numerous baskets and containers – and there’s a joy in growing your own beautiful blooms from seed.
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How to make a hanging basket – an expert guide
So often hanging baskets end up looking lacklustre and forlorn, with gaps where filler plants should have gone, holes in my moss liners and a lack of regular watering.
However, expert Nathan Syrett, assistant plant manager at Squire’s Garden Centres, has been running hanging basket masterclasses at its Stanmore store for a number of years, and offers the following advice to hanging basket hopefuls…
Time needed: 2 hours.
How to make a hanging basket – step-by-step guide on the basket and compost to use, to choosing the best hanging basket plants to bring some bloomin’ colour to your home.
- Choose the hanging basket and liner
There are many on the market, from traditional wicker and wire circular types, to conical containers and baskets which have water reservoirs in the bottom and removable ‘gates’ at the sides, which allow you to plant your plants and then secure them by replacing the gates.
Go for the biggest basket you can, as this will hold more compost and require slightly less watering than smaller baskets. Metal-framed baskets are ideal, but you will have to line them.
Those who want natural-looking liners may go for sphagnum moss or coir. Some gardeners then line the liners with plastic of some sort, whether it be from an old compost bag or a rubbish liner and put holes into the plastic to allow for drainage. I have tried this and it does help retain moisture, so the compost doesn’t dry out so quickly. Others swear that the best liner is an old woolly jumper, which is stretchy enough to allow you to plant your chosen blooms through, but also retains moisture.
If using moss (which you can buy at garden centres), use long strands of it laid laterally across the inside of the basket, working from the bottom, so the moss does not escape out of the holes.
Build the lining up in circles until it reaches the top of the basket, and lift it up to make sure you can’t see any gaps.
- Make a reservoir
Cut a small circle of plastic from your compost bag to make a reservoir in the bottom of your liner, to hold just enough water to keep the compost moist, while still allowing free drainage at the sides.
- Add compost to the hanging basket
Multipurpose compost, preferably the sort which has added plant food, is ideal, although you will still have to feed your basket plants during the summer, bearing in mind how many of the nutrients will be washed away when you’re constantly watering. When you reach the top of the basket, firm the compost down so there are no air holes.
You can buy compost specifically for hanging baskets, which already incorporates water retaining crystals and plant food, but if you already have multipurpose compost, add a handful of slow-release plant food granules and water-retaining crystals to the mix. If you are planting a longer-lasting basket with more permanent plants, such as hostas and heucheras or evergreens including skimmias and variegated ivies, use John Innes No 2 compost.
Once you have lined your pot, put in compost up to the first holes at the side, then insert your plants and place more compost over them. Leave enough depth to plant your main subjects at the top of the basket and then infill around them with more compost. I generally sit the basket on a bucket, which allows me to turn the basket while planting up the sides, without damaging any plants.
- Choose your hanging basket plants
If you are making your hanging baskets up now, you may still be able to buy some bargain plug plants – baby plants that cost less than larger equivalents – which should be easy to plant in your basket. Good bedding for baskets include geraniums, petunias, bacopa, lobelia, verbena, diascia and fuchsia, although some require more watering than others.
Fuchsias, for instance, tend to be thirsty, while geraniums are more drought tolerant. Busy Lizzies and hostas are good if your basket is going to be in a shady spot.
Styles vary – some gardeners prefer a globe of the same variety and colour, to create order and continuity, and tend to be lower maintenance as the same plants will have the same needs in terms of watering and feeding. Others will plant a riot of different colours in the same basket, some trailing, some bush varieties. If you are going for a mixture, plant trailers on the outside or at the sides of the basket and a feature bush plant in the middle to create some height and balance.
If you want your basket to be admired from all sides, choose one larger plant to put in the centre, such as an upright fuchsia or geranium, and select around five other plants to place around it.
These could range from trailing petunias and calibrachoa, to bacopa, lobelia, nemesia, diascia and helichrysum, although there are many other suitable plants available.
- Position plants in the hanging basket
Try positioning your chosen plants on top of the compost before planting, so you can decide which looks best where. Make sure your gaps are even when placing the outer plants.
Usually the tallest plant will go in the centre, surrounded by the lower trailers, which need to be planted closer to the edge, but if your basket is going to face in a particular direction, put the biggest plant at the back and the lower trailers in front of it.
To minimise any damage when planting, remove each plant from its pot and use the pot alone as the planting template, easing it down into the planting hole to make it the right size. Then your plant will slot right in.
Cover it with the compost you removed to make space for the hole. Repeat using the plant pot template until all your plants are in.
- Securely hang the basket
Hang up your basket on a wall bracket or other hook or frame (some hanging baskets are really heavy, so make sure your bracket is secured tightly and is strong enough to take the weight).
- Water regularly
Water your basket well using a watering can rose. That way, the water will seep into the compost to reach your plants, rather than running straight through it.
They will need watering thoroughly at least once a day initially, and possibly twice a day during the height of summer. If your basket dries out, don’t just get the hosepipe out on it as the water will just come through.
- Ensure regular maintenance
Feed your basket bedding plants regularly with either plant food or tomato food, following the instructions on the packet, and deadhead often to encourage further blooms.
If you’re planting your baskets up now, most of the annuals you use won’t be frost hardy, so make sure you bring them under a porch or under cover in the evening until all chance of frost has passed.
The best way to re-hydrate the soil is to take the basket down and place it into a washing-up bowl of water, until the soil has become soaked underneath. Then you have some chance of reviving it. Deadhead the blooms regularly to keep them going throughout summer and give them a diluted feed once a week, even if you have plant food in your compost, especially towards the end of the season when the nutrients in the soil will have drained out.
Best-selling hanging baskets
Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!
- DURABLE MATERIAL : Easy Fill Bloom Hanging Basket. Perfect for creating a flower or Plant displays in your garden. Strong durable plastic with removable side slats and hanging chain. Can also be used...
- BREATHEBLE WALL BASKET : The Easy fill wall planter can be fixed at the perfect height for viewing and watering. No root damage caused by squeezing plants through into baskets. Plants can breathe...
- EASY TO PUT UP AND EASY TO TRANSPORT : Fill with your favourite plants and flowers, and watch them bloom. Roots & Shoots wall basket that is easy to plant up, easy to put up and easy to transport.
- BEWARE CHEAP ALTERNATIVES - MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING FROM YOUGARDEN TO ENSURE QUALITY AND SERVICE.
- Lattice style gates for simple, quick planting. Plants and root balls remain undamaged.
- No need for moss or any other kind of liner - built in water reservoir
- 🌺QUANTITY & DIMENSION:5 hanging basket for the price! Size for each pot:25cm(10") diameter * 12(4.7'')cm in depth, total hanging height is 51cm and the weight is 250g.
- 🌺STRONG WEIGHT CAPACITY: Sturdy hanging flower baskets, each connection is carefully welded, and the thick and sturdy bracket has a strong load-bearing capacity, which ensures that you can grow...
- 🌺RUSTPROOF COAT: The entire hanging basket, including the iron chain and hooks added with a rustproof coat. It can play a good role in waterproof and rustproof, and can be safety used outdoors or...
- Realistic flowers great colour all year round
- No maintainance Designed for outdoor use (can also be used indoors)
- No watering or slug repellents only
- Pack of 20, 120cm natural bamboo canes.
- Ideal to be used for supporting plants and vegetables or as a support for garden netting
- Packed in a poly bag with full colour label
Last update on 2021-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API