How to plant hanging baskets


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Difficulty rating: Low

This task should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience.

There are many advantages to growing in hanging baskets - especially if you have a smaller garden or you would like to brighten up a doorway, wall or patio. Not least, it can mean a complete re-invention of your chosen space every time you plant.

Tools for the job:

Step 1: Select a hanging basket type

There are 3 different types of hanging basket to choose from:

1. Rattan baskets 

These look great and have a plastic liner which is great for water retention.

2. Plastic baskets

Great for insulation, helping to protect your plants from strong winds and sunshine.

3. Wire-mesh baskets

A traditional design that allows for planting in both the top and sides of the basket.

Step 2: Line the hanging basket & add potting compost

  • Supporting your hanging basket in a bucket or stand while you work, line it with a wood fibre liner or moss.
  • Once lined, fill the basket with multi-purpose or bedding plant compost that has been mixed with water gel crystals and slow release fertiliser granules, leaving approximately 2cm at top.
To keep a basket steady while you're planting, stand it on a special wire frame or bucket. Line the basket with a liner or moss.
Put a saucer or piece of plastic bin liner in the bottom of the basket to help keep water in.
Prepare your multi-purpose compost by adding a handful of controlled-release fertiliser granules and water-retaining gel.

Step 3: Build up your basket with plants

Rattan & plastic baskets:

For rattan baskets and plastic baskets with solid sides you will need fewer plants.

  • Up to 3 x centre plants
  • 3 x plants for colour
  • 6 x trailing plants 

Put the trailing plants a few centimetres from the edge of the basket and fill any gaps with the compost mix, then firm the soil around the base of each plant.

Standard wire-mesh baskets:

In a standard wire-mesh 35cm basket you can add lots of plants.

  • Up to 3 x centre plants
  • 5 x plants for colour
  • Between 7-9 plants trailing plants (to trail down the outside of the basket)

Pull some compost up the sides of the basket and draw the moss over the top of it
Evenly space your side-planted plants in two layers all around the basket.
When all the side-planted plants are in place, start filling the basket with the centre plants.

Step 4: Add more fertiliser

  • Sprinkle a further tablespoon of controlled-release fertiliser granules over the compost and water well. Fertiliser should be applied throughout the growing season, or alternatively you can use a liquid feed alongside watering the compost weekly.
How to plant hanging baskets & pots

Top tips:

  • For the best results, ensure that the plant size suits your basket of choice. Good trailing plants are: Petunia Surfina, trailing Fuchsia and Lobelias. For colour add Nemesia and Pansies along with Fuchsias and Geranium.
  • Remove dead flower heads. Not only does it make your basket look tidier, it encourages more flowers.
  • Remember that you don't have to plant flowers in your hanging basket. Strawberries and tomatoes grow extremely well in hanging baskets and are easy to pick.
  • Generally the basket should be watered once or twice a day, but on hot, dry days water the basket early and hang it in the shade. On cold days, wait until it warms up before watering.
  • Ensure your hanging basket bracket is strong enough to hold the weight of a watered basket.

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