Hanging baskets full of pretty flowers always look attractive. They can brighten up a balcony or a patio and also look good in a tree in the garden or beside the front door of your home.
Hanging baskets are the answer if you are short of space on the patio or if you want to brighten up a drab corner or a bare wall. They are one of the most flexible ways of displaying plants. Since you can always move the hanging basket from one hook to another, it does not have to stay in one place throughout the summer.
Nearly all hanging trailing and climbing plants suit a hanging basket. You can use both sun-loving and shade-loving plants. Hanging baskets are particularly suitable for plants that need plenty of space around them or which spread out quickly as they grow.
You can create added impact by combining several hanging baskets in one location. For instance you can hang the baskets to achieve a stepped effect on a banister. A number of baskets hung at different heights also look effective on a protected wall or fence.
Tip IDEAL FOR FUCHSIAS Fuchsias can be grown as trailing plants in hanging baskets for several years. Baskets provide them with growing conditions similar to those in their native South America. They do not like draughts and should not be put in harsh sunlight. Given the right conditions, they will flower well for a number of seasons.
Hanging Baskets choices
There are many kinds of hanging baskets available, but it is cheapest to buy some hangers made from jute or hessian, in which you can put different bowls and pots. This means you can turn any suitable container that you already have into a hanging basket.
Some hanging baskets are made from clay and hang by ropes or chains. Others are available made from plaited straw, which is often lined with plastic. Many hanging baskets are made from plastic and have their own grid plastic hangers attached.
When you choose a hanging basket you should bear in mind the weight it will have to carry and where you intend to hang from. A large hanging basket made of clay will be quite heavy, while a plastic or plaited one will be considerably lighter.
You should also think carefully about how to fix your basket to the wall or fence. Use heavy-duty hooks and screw them into the wood. If hanging a basket from a brick surface, it is important that you pre-drill and anchor the hooks well.
The most important consideration when choosing a hanging basket is the size of the plants it will contain. The basket should be large enough to hold sufficient soil for the plant to spread its roots. It should also allow space for water and feeding, to prevent the plant from drying out during warm summer days.
Large baskets look best. A diameter of 30-45cm is suitable and gives most plants the space they need. The container must be at least 15cm deep to hold enough soil.
Designing your basket
A large hanging basket with space for both upright and hanging plants always looks good. Plants trailing begonias and trailing lobelias around the outside edge of the basket and ordinary begonias or geraniums in the middle, and allow the side to become completely covered by ivy or creeping jenny (Lysimachia).
Plants in hanging baskets must be regularly watered and fed. The limited amount of soil cannot retain moisture for very long and there is no deep layer of soil which the roots can penetrate to find nutrients. However, because of the restricted space, it is also very easy to overfeed plants in hanging baskets.
Achieving the correct balance of nutrients is all-important if you want to achieve a mass of flowers. Overfeeding results in lots of leaves and few flowers, nut there will also be a disappointing lack of flowers if you do not feed the plants at all.
The base of the hanging basket should be drained, to prevent excess water from damaging the roots. Is the container does not have a hole in the base it is essential to add a drainage layer on the bottom? This should consist of several centimeters of expanded clay pellets, broken crockery or gravel.
Pinching off withered flowers prolongs the flowering season by allowing room for new ones to grow. If the old flowers are left on, they will set fruit. This uses up the plant’s strength and they will not produce any new flowers. Check your hanging baskets regularly to ensure the soil is moist enough. Also check for pests, so that any outbreaks of disease can be controlled.
As plants have less soil when grown in a hanging basket than in the garden, they dry out quickly during the summer and must be watered regularly. In very hot weather plants may need watering as many as three times a day. In autumn, plants in a hanging basket are vulnerable to frost, as cold penetrates the pot faster than the soil. Move baskets indoors at the first hint of frost.
Trailing plants are ideal for hanging baskets. Their stems can hang freely from the basket, reflecting their natural pattern of growth. Hanging baskets are also ideal for twining and climbing plants, which have to be supported by bamboo canes of trellises when planted in the ground. Many house plants grown in hanging baskets can be moved outdoors during the summer. This is particularly true of ivy (Hedera), vines, trailing begonias and many varieties of tillandsia.