Hanging Baskets

In Spring, the longer evenings and bright spring days make us think about summer flowers. Here we show you how to create and care for hanging baskets, which can be a welcome addition to your garden. Whether you’ve never planted a hanging basket before or are a true pro here are a few tips to aid your success…

First, select a suitable basket for the type of plants you are intending to grow. Wicker baskets are easy, as they look very effective planted with just one species of plant. For a larger, much fuller basket we would suggest using a traditional wire basket which allows for planting in the sides. Then, select a liner for your basket.

There are many different options for liners. The most important thing to remember is that the liner must be strong in order to hold the weight and also that it does not tear causing the plants and compost to fall out off the basket. Remember, once the plants have grown, the liner is not going to be visible. No matter what liner you use, it is always a good idea to place some plastic in the bottom of the basket to help to reduce water loss.

Next, choose a selection of plants to go into the basket – the best advice we can give here is to use plants that are equal in vigour. Plants selected for the sides should all be of fast growth so they compete with one another and trail as far down as possible. Plants in the top of the basket should be slower growers to prevent them from swamping the plants below. For a standard basket we would recommend six trailing plants for the side, six trailing plants for the top and one “dot” plant for the top.

Start the basket by putting in the side plants first. Do this before adding any compost as this helps to get the plants as low down in the basket as possible. Our preferred method for doing this is to lightly tease the foliage through the wire basket as this prevents any damage to the roots of the plants. Next, place the “dot” plant in the centre of the basket and then the remaining trailing plants around that. Only add extra compost at this stage if the plants are too low in the basket.

Position the trailing plants to the outside edge of the basket so that the compost can then be added to the centre to fill the basket. Using the back of your hand, lightly firm the compost around the plants.Once finished, keep the basket indoors for about a week in order to settle and let the plants establish. Throughout the season liquid feed regularly and also remember to dead head at least once a week.

We have put together two examples below for you to try. The first is for a fast growing vigorous basket and the second for a slower more compact basket. Don’t forget that the colours of the plants can be changed to your own preference.

Basket 1
3 x Sufinia ‘Blue Topaz’
3 x helichrysum ‘Gold’
3 x Surfinia ‘Victorian Yellow’
3 x Fuchsia ‘La Campanella’
1 x Festucia ‘Eliajh Blue’

Basket 2
3 x Helichrysum microphyllum
3 x Diascia ‘Little Dreamer’
3 x Million Bells ‘Cherry’
3 x Bacopa ‘Snowflake’
1 x Geranium ‘Pulsar Red’

After planting your basket, ideally keep it in heated greenhouse for 3-4 weeks, watering sparingly to prevent the roots from rotting off. Then gradually harden off the basket, making sure that it is always protected from the risk of frost.

Watering: Always water hanging baskets in the morning rather than the evening to prevent the plants sitting in water overnight. Water every day or as necessary.

Feeding: Feed at first with Miracle Gro as this is high in Nitrogen and will encourage green growth. Once the plants start to flower, switch feeding to Phostrogen. This is high in Potash/Potassium and will encourage the plants to produce more flowers. Feed the basket once or twice a week. Bear in mind if you are watering every day, you could wash out all the feed from the compost within a couple of days, leaving no feed for the plants!

Dead Heading: Once the plants start to flower, always make sure you dead head them to ensure a succession of flowers. Also make sure you rotate the basket regularly to ensure all sides of the basket receive light. This makes sure the plants in the basket will grow evenly.

Due to the nature of the plants and the fact they are planted in a basket, regularly check for pests and diseases and take remedial action if necessary. If followed correctly, these tips will ensure you have a flourishing, colourful basket throughout the summer months; and hopefully into early autumn.

Article courtesy of The Inverness Courier

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