Planting Outdoor Hanging Baskets

A well-planned outdoor hanging basket will give months of pleasure. Ensure success by carefully choosing compatible plants and regularly feeding and watering. Hanging baskets are one of the most effective ways of providing colour in a tiny outdoor space. Plants need to be picked to suit each other and the spot chosen but can be swapped as the seasons change so that you will always have a cheerful display throughout the year.


Picking the position

Most summer-flowering plants suitable for a basket will thrive in a sunny spot, provided they are frequently watered. Twice a day may be necessary in very hot weather. However, there are also flowering plants that will survive in light shade, such as Lobelia, Fuchsia and Busy Lizzie, Begonia and Creeping Jenny. In a more shady spot it is possible to create a basket from green plants such as ferns, Tradescantia, Hostas and Ivies. You could even include Catmint, Busy Lizzie and Night-Scented Stock, all of which will tolerate shade.

Creating the shape

A flowering globe always looks attractive. The best way to create this effect is to insert plants in three layers, one close to the bottom of the container, one about two-thirds of the way up in spaces between the first circle, with larger plants positioned in the top of the basket.

Securing the container

Hanging baskets can be suspended from brackets screwed to the wall or hung from a beam or porch roof (screw hooks into joists, not into plaster). Half baskets can be screwed to a wall by using wall plugs. When filled with compost and plants, a basket is heavy so position securely where they can be easily reached and where they won’t pose a hazard.


Round the year interest

With careful planning baskets can remain colourful throughout the year. Remove summer annuals and store Geraniums before the first frosts. Replant with winter and spring flowers such as Primroses, Pansies, or miniature Wallflowers. You can also add some variegated Ivies or include a few small bulb plants like Crocus, Miniature Iris, Grape Hyacinth and Snowdrops. At the end of the winter season place bulbs and plants in the garden and replant with summer flowering varieties.

Basket care

In very hot summers the basket will need to be watered every day, so easy access to it is important. Water it until you see water dripping from the sphagnum moss. When you take the basket down to do this, it is a good opportunity to inspect the plants to see if they have been affected by pests or disease. Also, remove any dead flowerheads and leaves and pinch out shoots to promote bushier growth.

Food and water

  • Feed plants regularly every two weeks with a standard liquid fertilizer, or use food sticks which should be placed in the potting compost when first planting up the basket. These will gradually release the nutrients the plants need through the season.
  • Use a hose, spraying very gently, to water the basket and be sure that you water the sides as well as the top. A long-nozzled plastic watering bottle makes watering easy but mist the basket sides as well.
  • Alternatively, remove the hanging basket from its position and gently place it in a bucket of water for approximately half an hour. If the basket dries out for any reason this is the hest way to restore it.

Lining a wall basket

  • Position a sheet of polythene and make some holes for drainage at the front and sides. Trim, allowing 5cm (2 inches) overlap.
  • Line the wall basket with compost, be sure of hiding the polythene liner that will hold potting compost and plants in place.

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