Hanging Baskets


Cascading, colourful hanging baskets – what could be more reminiscent of an English cottage garden? It doesn’t matter how small your outside space is, hanging baskets are a simple way to instantly introduce colour and create interest all year round.

You will need:

  • Hanging basket and liner
  • Compost
  • Water-retentive granules
  • Selection of plants eg trailers, climbers and upright bedding plants
  • Slow-release fertiliser

Tip: Many basket types are available, from solid plastic with a water reservoir, to woven baskets and also the traditional type – a wire basket consisting of an open galvanised plastic coated wire framework. These take longer to plant but will produce a better result if you follow our guide.

Step 1: Prepare the compost and liner

Never use garden soil which is too heavy, badly drained and lacking in nutrients. Always use new compost – many plants are packed into a small area and they need the best conditions available. Pick a compost without soil, although you can add a small amount of loam-based compost improve fertility.

Add water-retentive granules to the compost. These swell up into a glutinous mass, acting as a water reservoir, and claim to reduce the need to water so often. Incorporate slow-release fertiliser to reduce the need for extra feeding later.

An open wire basket needs a liner to prevent compost falling through. Traditionally, sphagnum moss was used, though many substitutes are available and work just as well, such as ones made of coconut fibre, or you could even use an old woollen jumper!

For a cheap liner, try a black plastic bin liner inside a thin layer of fresh grass cuttings. These start off green but soon turn to a straw colour and look fine even if they are not covered by trailing plants. Add some drainage holes a few inches above the bottom of the base to create a small water reservoir.

Step 2: Insert trailing plants

Stand the basket on a large plant pot for easy access and fill to about 1/3 with compost.

Make holes 50mm (2in) apart at this level and pass the roots of trailing plants through so they lie on top of the compost with the plants hanging outwards.

Add more compost and trailers, staggered between those below until you are a few inches from the top.

Cascading plants can be added around the top, every 50mm – 75mm (2in – 3in). Gently flatten and spread the rootball so more plants can be added. Firm compost around the plants.

Step 3: Plant the top

Add upright plants, placing carefully in the gaps in the centre and add a few climbers to grow up the chains.

Leave a gap at the top for watering, or push a plastic funnel in the centre to use as a watering point. This will soon be covered by plant growth.

Step 4: Hanging the basket

Water thoroughly, using a fine rose so as not to disturb the compost. Baskets dry out very quickly so water at least daily.

If the plants have not been previously hardened off, gradually acclimatise to outside conditions.

Fit the chain in place and suspend the basket on the supporting bracket. Take time to rotate the basket so that its best side faces out.

Six weeks after planting start a weekly liquid feed. Remove dead flowers regularly to prolong flowering.