In this article, we will be discussing hanging baskets from getting the planting right, types of hanging baskets where to display time, type of hanging basket linings, how to suspend them and how to maintain them
I have talked about hanging basket in a previous article and in particular I have reviewed the easy fill hanging basket. I have even talked about what alternative plants you can have in hanging baskets.
It is now time we discuss hanging basket in great detail so that the ins and outs are all covered.
Hanging baskets are one of the most popular types of container in the garden. They often seen by the side of front doors, where the colour can be admired at face level.
You can say that they have the greatest impact by occupying the smallest area. If you want a spectacular display of colourful bedding plants, you need to choose a large basket as possible and use a liner of good quality to ensure that the plants do not wilt and the compost does not dry out too quickly.
TYPES OF HANGING BASKET
When buying a hanging basket, you are spoilt for choice, all of the different forms, styles and sizes, enough to satisfy any gardener. Buy a good quality hanging basket look after them, and they should give many years of service.
You have plastic hanging baskets such as the easy fill basket or you can have a plastic-coated wire-hanging baskets or you can have self-watering hanging baskets. So many different designs or different sizes that can suit any garden.
Other types of plastic hanging baskets have a built-in drip tray, so reducing the amount of watering that is required.
You can also buy half-hanging baskets that are suitable for walls, there are known as wall planters and have been reviewed here. If you are looking for a hanging basket that is easy to fill and involves no cutting of liners than you will need to read my review of easy fill hanging baskets.
HOW TO PLANT IN HANGING BASKETS
To give a really good effect, pack as many bedding plants your hanging basket can hold and take. Plant in the sides as many plants as possible, so if you are using a wireframe basket that the liner will not be visible.
For best display use a mixture of upright plants and trailing plants, alternating between the two to prevent the hanging basket from looking straggly.
When using plug plant no precautions needs to be undertaken, all you need to do is cut a slit in the lining and then thrust through the plug plant from outside inside.
For trailing plants, you need to take precautions to prevent the root ball from getting damaged when it is pulled through the side of the basket.
TREAT TRAILING PLANTS DIFFERENTLY
First, you need to wrap the trailing plant in small pieces of polythene shaped into a narrow cone. The roots should be covered with the wide end and the head with leaves placed at the narrow end.
Use a sharp knife and cut it through the liner and gentle easy the plant through the liner from the inside. You will then need to remove the polythene immediately before adding the compost and wet retaining gel. It is best to pre-wet the water-retaining gel before mixing it with compost, otherwise, if you mix the compost and watering retaining gel together and wet it afterwards, the content will spill all over the place.
To help with the planting, you can elevate the basket by using a plastic pot that is just large enough to hold the bottom of the hanging basket in place.
Plastic hanging baskets that have no side hold can be filled with upright bedding plants in the centre and trailing plants as edging all around, where they are allowed to trail over the sides.
Often hanging baskets have ugly hanging chains that need to be covered. Trailing plants can be trained to grow up and climb up these chains and cover them. It is, therefore, possible to have plants that can trail downward or climb upwards in the same hanging basket. This will often give a spectacular effect.
You will need to gently twine the stems around the chains and then tie them in loosely with plastic ties or jute. This is important at the beginning when the stem first meet the chain, as it will not attach. Once it has contact with the chain the plant will twine by itself.
TYPES OF HANGING BASKET LININGS
Numerous traditional linings can be used to line wire hanging baskets. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Felt and foam are inexpensive liners that will fit snuggly in the hanging basket. They will be less obstructive if the liner is green. It certainly does the job.
- Coconut fibre or coco liners are also inexpensive and made from the husks of coconuts, a waste product from the coconut industry. It tends to have good insulation properties and therefore recommended to use in winter hanging baskets.
- Recycled wool is another waste product from the wool industry, where inferior wool not suitable for clothing is backed with a polythene layer. Great insulation qualities and therefore great to use in winter baskets.
- Sphagnum moss is a popular lining and has good water retention abilities. It will fill the gap between the wireframe and the plant very well and will give an overall more naturalistic look. To some, it not acceptable because of the environmental impact that harvesting the product has.
- Compacted card can also be used. These liners are made from card but they are stiff and can be hard to sit inside the wire hanging basket frame. This is an environmentally friendly product as it will degrade over time and therefore not too difficult to dispose of, once the product has reached the end of its useful life. It is not that easy to find nowadays.
- You can use jute liners that are made from the same material as that used to make gardening string, so often used in the garden. It will last longer than some liners but will still weaken over time, as it gets wet. It is an environmentally friendly product as once it has finished its useful life it can be disposed of in the compost heap.
THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES
You are not limited to these traditional ones, as you can make your own.
- You can use old newspaper. Cut several sheets of newspaper in circles and then pack them into the hanging basket to make the liner. You will really need to pack them in, as when wet it will degrade quite quickly. The problem is the paper will be visible and therefore will not look attractive.
- Knitwear can be used as a liner as well, all you need to use is an old jumper, cardigan, or scarf and then cut it to shape. It may not look very attractive but it most certainly does the job.
- If you can find it, blanket weed makes a great substitute to sphagnum moss, as it has similar properties.
You can now see that there is a wide choice of what liner can be used.
SUSPENDING HANGING BASKETS
You need to hang your planted hanging basket at the right height, where it is possible to maintain the basket. If it is placed too high, you will find it difficult to feed and water easily.
Before hanging any hanging basket make sure the bracket that is attached to the wall or frame is firmly in place. You do not want it to fall on your head. You also need to position the basket where it can be viewed from both sides and from the front.
The brackets I must stress must be firmly attached to the wall to take the weight of the baskets, the plants, water and the compost within them. Incorrect attachment can result in the hanging basket falling and all your handy work being damaged.
You need to make sure that wall plugs that you use are of good quality and that galvanized screws are used to attach the bracket to the wall firmly. The bracket also needs to be long enough to hold the basket at a good distance from the wall. You will need to use a masonry drill bit to drill the holes for the brackets in brick or stone walls, or a wood drill bit if you want to drill in a wood structure such as a pergola.
Always check that the bracket can take a lot of weight before finally attaching the hanging basket.
KEEP AWAY FROM FULL SUN
When situating hanging baskets make sure that the basket is away from full sun at all times, as this will cause the compost in the basket to dry out and therefore the plant to suffer and eventually die.
If plants on one side are not doing well or if you do not have enough plants to cover the whole hanging basket. Then it is best to leave one side sparse and make sure that you hang the basket in a location where the sparse side cannot be seen.
If you have a hanging basket to which you are very fond of and you like its look, take photographs and notes, so you can repeat the design.
Watering baskets as said previously can be difficult to so, but you can place a hanging basket on a pulley system. You will need to buy a special bracket, where the basket hanger incorporates a pulley system inside it. This pulley system allows you to raise and lower the hanging basket, so that feed and water can be introduced easier and the flowers deadheaded.
If you do not want a pulley system or you cannot afford one, you can buy a pressurized pump-action watering container with a long hose and a long watering wand. This will allow you to water and feed with a liquid fertilizer to hard to reach hanging baskets. It is safer than using a stepladder and a watering can. The major problem with high hanging baskets as deadheading can be difficult and you hanging baskets can suffer.
WHERE TO USE HANGING BASKETS
Most hanging baskets are normally suspended from brackets attached to buildings, normally beside front doors. They are not limited to these areas, as you can use them on pergolas, arches and garden walls, but you can also use them in conservatories, porches, garden rooms and even inside rooms in your home.
If you have hanging baskets in pergolas or arches, use a few hanging baskets and use shade-tolerant plants such as busy Lizzie, begonias, and fuchsias if they do not get too much light.
CREATE A STUNNING METAL BALL.
If you want a special hanging basket, place two hanging baskets planted with bushy plants through the sides only (Ivies are ideal for this), with the baskets facing each object, one at the bottom and another at the top of the other one. Once the plants have settled, you can tie the two hanging baskets together to form a ball.
If you are planning to have a winter hanging basket, it is beneficial to have a dense lining to help protect the roots from freezing. To do this you can use a coco-liners or wool liners and use an additional layer of inexpensive material such as an extra layer of newspaper or knitwear.
This will insulate the roots and should make sure your winter display has enough protection.
MAINTAINING YOUR HANGING BASKET DISPLAY
Of all containers, you find in the garden hanging baskets are the most difficult to look good throughout the summer months. They are positioned in windy, sunny, exposed sites that dry out the compost very quickly. This means in summer you need to water at least once away. If the basket totally dries up, it can be very difficult to re-wet the compost and prevent the plants from wilting and even dying.
How to Prevent this?
Modern hanging baskets such as the plastic ones, already have a reservoir present, so do most self-watering hanging basket wire baskets, on the other hand, do not have such luxury. You will have to create your own reservoir or you will have to water frequently. You can create your own reservoir by placing a plate or saucer at the base of the basket before adding the compost. This should provide a source of water for plants.
What to do if your compost has dried too much?
If this happens and water is running off, you need to add a couple of drops of washing-up liquid to the water, as this will allow the water to penetrate the surfaces. The washing up liquid will not have any effect on the plant. If the compost is very dry, lower the hanging basket into a bowl of water and leave for quite a while until the compost is moist enough but not too wet.
Remove the hanging basket after an hour or two, and then stand it in a cool, shady position until the plants have picked up.
It is not a good idea to have a hanging basket if you cannot keep up with the watering and weekly feeding.
In this article, we have discussed how to get the best from your hanging baskets. A lot of aspects have been covered from types of hanging baskets, planting methodology, types of linings, how to attach and suspend them, ideal location and how to maintain them. If you follow all the recommendations then you will not be disappointed with inferior hanging basket displays.
With hanging baskets, it is about getting the right plants, watering frequently and feeding, and deadheading spent blooms to help the promotion of more bloom. Do all that and the other tips that are highlighted in this article, with result in a spectacular display.
If you have any question or comments that you like to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy hanging basket gardening.