How to plant up hanging baskets

Martyn Cox

Dull walls or fences aren't much to look at, but you can instantly transform them with a hanging basket or two.

Head to your garden centre now and you’ll find shelves jam packed with lots of tempting annual plants that can be planted into baskets to make an attractive feature, which will provide colour and interest all summer long.

How to plant up hanging baskets

Choosing plants for baskets isn’t easy as there’s such a wide choice, but there are some key rules to creating a pretty and tasteful display. Avoid putting too many different plants with lots of contrasting colours together or your basket will end up looking like an over elaborate wedding cake. Instead keep your choice of plants simple, using colours that work together well, such as soft yellows, pinks and white, or for something with a bit more zing, try different tones of red.

When creating a hanging basket you will need several different types of plant. To give height in the centre of the basket choose pelargoniums, marguerites or fuchsia. Lobelia, pansies and cineraria are great for filling in gaps, while dichondra, petunia and trailing begonias can be planted at the edges to cascade over the sides of the basket.

Choosing your container

What kind of hanging baskets should you choose? Well, it comes down to taste, but 35cm (14in) wire baskets are great as you can plant up the sides, while natural rattan and Victorian style cast-iron baskets look more classy – these are fairly heavy, so make sure you screw the bracket to hold it securely to the wall.

Planting up your hanging basket

  • To make planting up easy stand your basket on top of a large pot to prevent it moving and remove one of the chains so they don’t get in the way.
  • Cover the inside of the basket with a liner and add a 2.5cm (1in) layer of hanging basket compost to the base.
  • Make three cuts at soil level, 2cm (0.75in) across, through the liner.
  • Select plants for the sides and from the inside of the basket, thread each through a slit until the rootball is snug against the liner. Firm soil around the rootballs.
  • Fill two thirds of the basket with compost and repeat step 4.
  • Add more compost until it is within a few centimetres of the rim and finish by planting the top of the basket.
  • Water well and put in a light, frost free place until it is ready to go outside in late May.

Looking after you hanging basket

The large amount of plants in a basket means it can dry out quickly, so water daily or even twice a day during warm weather. To keep the basket going all summer long, feed every week with liquid tomato food and dead head flowers regularly.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.