If you want your garden to pack a floral punch, then hanging baskets are a great way to do this.
Whether you fancy lush cascades of flowers, or a dramatic floral statement, our step-by-step guide can help you build the perfect hanging basket display for your garden.
Perhaps you've already created a hanging masterpiece? Well, then I definitely want to see it. Send me a photo or post on our social network pages to inspire others and let us know how you managed it. Together, we can make our gardens beautiful.
Choosing your plants
The first thing to do when designing a hanging basket is to decide what kind of display you're after. A traditional display usually has a central statement; a brightly coloured dahlia for example. This is then fringed by smaller plants such as pansies or marigolds, interspersed with trailing plants like fuchsia to add depth. Pick plants whose colours complement each other, for example: petunias, pansies, lobelia and geraniums always go well together.
However, if it's a more contemporary look you're going for try choosing just one plant. Imagine how stunning a bright blue orb of lobelia would look? Or a fragrant ball of sweet alyssum, that brings butterflies and bees to your garden?
You should also think about how long you want your display to last? Vibrant bedding plants look amazing but they only last for a short while, while herbs, shrubs and evergreens will last a lot longer.
Finally, where are you going to hang your creation? Some trailing plants, like dichondra silver falls, can grow up to 5ft so you need to ensure your basket will be high enough up for the plants you select. Once you've chosen your display, it's time to head to the garden centre...
Building your own hanging basketStep 1: The basket
The bigger the hanging basket, the better. It will retain more moisture keeping your creation looking brighter for longer, so try and buy the biggest you can find. Some come already with a cardboard liner, others are simply wire frames.
Step 2: A lining
If your basket doesn't have a readymade liner, then you'll need to make one. Moss is great. Line the basket with a layer of moss about 1.5cm thick, making sure it reaches all the way up the sides. Ensure you buy your moss from a renewable source like a garden centre, instead of nipping along to your local woodland.
Next, cut several circles out of an old compost bag and place them on top of the moss, lining the inside of the basket. Hanging baskets are notorious for drying out so this will help your display retain water. However, don't forget to add some holes in the bottom of the plastic, so the water can eventually escape, otherwise you may end up drowning your plants.
Step 3: The compost
Place a small amount of compost into the bottom of the basket, making sure to choose a decent one packed full of nutrients. A multi-purpose compost is fine if your display is only going to last a year or less, but for anything longer, why not try a compost like John Innes no. 2? You can even add some water-retaining crystals to the mix in order to reduce the number of times you need to water.
Step 4: Planting
Now comes the fun part. For wire frame baskets, it's best to start with the sides. Choose small bedding plants such as pansies or marigolds and begin by pushing them through the moss from the outside of the basket inwards. Nemesia is a great choice because it smells so wonderful. Make sure your plants are evenly spaced around the basket, then add your trailing plants in-between the small flowers. Plants that grow in a bushy style, such as ornamental lobelias, are great because they help fill in any gaps. Finally, choose a plant or two for the top of your basket, one that will give you height and colour.
If you haven't chosen a wire frame basket then begin with a central plant, such as a bright geranium. Choose one that makes a statement and will look good even if the surrounding plants fail to flower in a cold snap.Then add a circle of small and trailing plants around it, so the flowers will tumble over the sides. Ivy-leaved pelargoniums are a great choice because they grow downwards and will help hide the basket itself.
Remember, in both cases don't pack your basket too tight; it's a small space after all. Allow enough room for your plants to grow and fill the planter on their own accord.
Step 5: Finishing touches
Once all your plants are in, add some more compost around the root balls and firmly pat it down. Why not take this opportunity to add some controlled-release fertiliser pellets too? Finally, ensure the basket is watered well, then move it to your desired location. If the weather is still a bit cold, trying keeping it in a greenhouse on top of a flower pot.
Once your basket is planted, there are a couple of things you can do to keep it looking healthy:
Check your basket's water level everyday and water when needed to ensure the soil is always moist, but not soggy.
Deadhead your plants regularly to encourage more flowers to grow.
Feed your basket once a week with a liquid fertiliser.