House Plant Containers From Baskets

Baskets make very decorative containers and are cheap to buy, but they need to be lined to make them watertight. This will stop the basket from rotting and the surface on which it stands from being damaged.

Choosing your basket

The basket’s size, shape and colour all need to be considered when matching it up with your plant.

Baskets with handles

These can be particularly effective used for decorative climbers where the handle can act as a support. Otherwise choose low-growing plants that will allow the shape of the handle to be clearly seen.

House Plant Containers From Baskets

Wide, shallow baskets

Use these to contain a group of plants. A basket full of flowering pansies or primulas would be very effective, or create a mixed arrangement with slightly taller plants creating a dome in the centre and small trailing ones like ivy and Mind-Your-Own-Business spilling over the the edge. Tall plants, even if placed in the centre, would look out of proportion in a shallow container.

Preparing your basket

You first need to line your basket to make it watertight. Use a sheet of fairly thick polythene — two layers of black bin liner polythene will do. Place in the basket and cut to shape, allowing an overhang all round of at least 25mm

In the bottom place a 25mm (1 in) layer of porous clay pellets or small smooth pebbles. Add a layer of peat to this to a depth that will allow your plant pots, when they sit on it, to reach to just below the basket top. Place the tallest plants in the centre and make sure that the leaves of those at the edge overhang the basket rim. Tuck the polythene in all round and pack more peat around and between the pots. Keep this constantly moist.

Pot-shaped baskets

If you want to display a plant on its own, choose a basket in tones that show off the leaf or flower colours and that is about one-third of the plant height. A low, bushy plant, like the Piggyback Plant or the Asparagus Fern, also looks effective in a large basket. In a group of plants you can place a flowering plant in one basket to pick up colours in an adjoining basket very effectively.

Instead of adding a polythene liner to baskets containing an individual plant, use an old bowl that fits snugly in the base and add a few small pebbles for drainage. Don’t use a saucer which could overflow, resulting in damage to the surface on which the basket stands.

Caring for baskets

Because of their rough texture baskets will collect dust and so periodically need a wash. Choose a dry day and wash them in a bowl of detergent and warm water using a brush. Rinse in cold water and leave outside to dry.

Painting baskets

Aerosol car spray creates the best effect. It is easy to use, gives a fine, smooth finish and shows off the basket’s texture.

Wash basket and allow to dry first. Cover all nearby surfaces and wear rubber gloves. Shake the can for two minutes and hold 20-30cm (8-12in) from basket. Spray in light, even strokes from side to side. Use a number of light coats; don’t try to cover in one as the paint will run.

Creating a two-colour handle

Cut a polythene bag into strips the width of the band you want. Tape one end inside the basket, wind it around the handle and tape other end. Spray, allow to dry then reposition and spray with second colour.

Adding a border

To create a border in a second colour, use a strip of thin card about 5cm (2in) wide, to mask off the main basket while you spray on the paint. Move the card as you spray around the edge.

Using a stencil

Choose simple shapes — diamonds, circles, squares — as you cannot get a perfect outline. Cut out pattern on paper that fits round basket. Tape over basket and spray.

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