Get the best from hanging baskets

Print Friendly

Hanging baskets have proved to be one of those gardening novelties that have stood the test of time and millions of them brighten up our gardens every year.

It’s no wonder, as there’s no quicker or more impactful way of adorning walls and other places where colour and interest from plants is otherwise hard to achieve.

Types of basket

You’ll find a huge range of different baskets in garden centres and online. No longer as popular as they were, are the traditional baskets with open sides through which you can plant to achieve a display that really drips with colour. These need lining in order to retain the compost and roots. Traditionally these were made of plastic-coated wire. They are still readily available and inexpensive but a modern heavy-duty plastic one might be better. These still have the open sides but usually have an in-built saucer base, will stand up on their own for planting and are often deeper than their wire counterparts.

Then there are those that only allow for top planting and are basically hanging pots. The cheap plastic ones are best planted with trailing plants such as Surfinia petunias, fuchsias or ivy-leaved pelargoniums that will hide the sides. Sticking to one or two varieties will ensure more impact.

In more recent years, baskets made of natural materials, such as willow, have flooded the market. They are attractive in their own right and it doesn’t matter if the sides aren’t completely hidden by the plants. There are even cone or inverted pyramid-shaped versions that are particularly good as they provide more root space. They look the part but you should expect to replace them after three years or so.

The third type are ‘hybrid’ baskets with in-built planting pockets that allow for side planting. They don’t require a liner, often have a reservoir or saucer base to aid watering, and can be planted up with more ease and speed than open-sided baskets but they’re not so flexible when it comes to planting.

Size matters

When it comes to hanging baskets, size really does matter. The smaller sizes (20cm and 25cm diameter) have insufficient capacity for a lengthy display, whereas the largest sizes (40cm upwards) are too bulky and heavy, as well as expensive to fill.

The optimum is a 35cm diameter basket.

Basket liners

Sphagnum moss is the traditional basket lining, but its use is now considered ecologically unsound. There are lots of alternatives, ranging from pre-formed liners, from wood and paper pulp, to flat discs or rolls formed of natural and synthetic materials, including cocoa fibre, sisal and foam.

Choosing plants

Thirty years ago the range of plants available was relatively narrow, but plant breeders have worked tirelessly to quench our thirst for a wider range of reliable, uniform, long-flowering plants to fill our hanging baskets. There is now such an array that there’s room here only to mention a few stalwarts.

As far as colour range and – in many varieties –perfume go, nemesias are hard to beat. They are ideal for the centre of the basket as a change from the usual pelargoniums, fuchsias or begonias. That said, pelargoniums are supremely drought-tolerant, and the fancy-leaved and scented varieties offer extra value.

Begonias add sumptuousness but need shelter and are best out of hot sun. Also good for shade are fuchsias. Petunias are great in full sun and lobelias are a staple plant for baskets, filling them out cheaply.

To ensure your plants grow well you need to buy them at the right stage. They should be well rooted but not pot-bound. Choose bushy, branching plants as opposed to those that are single stemmed. Avoid leggy, drawn plants and, although they will go on flowering all summer anyway, choose those that are just coming into bud rather than are in full bloom.

Keeping your basket in shape

Critical to the success of hanging baskets is their aftercare. Like any plant in a container, those in hanging baskets are reliant on you for their food and water. In fact, as they are more exposed to the elements, they will dry out and run out of nutrients far more readily than other types of container. As a rule they’ll need watering every day (more often on hot or windy days). Adding slow-release feed to the compost at planting time will keep them going most of the summer, but when they start to flag, do a weekly or twice weekly feed using a Best Buy liquid or soluble fertiliser.


Try Which? Gardening for £1

To sign up for a 1 month trial of Which? click here

To find out more about Which? Gardening click here  



The following two tabs change content below.
Hello ... I am the Creative Director and Website Editor for Silversurfers and manage all the social media too. I hope you find the features and articles we have shared with you of interest and relevance. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us ... I hope you enjoy Silversurfers and all that we offer ...

Latest posts by Silversurfers Editor (see all)

Not a member?

Join the silversurfers community today! It's free, easy to do, and is packed full of features and amazing offers!

Join the community!
Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

More Which?

Bulbs To Boost Your Garden Garden, gardening, planting - bulbs of spring flowers ready for
As summer comes to a close, it's time to start planting spring bulbs. Hannah Stephenson looks at...
Broadband, Phone & TV Packages which-broadband
Find the right broadband, phone or TV package for you with our handy guide. Learn how to get...
Make the Most of Your Tablet which tablet
Tablets are cheaper than most laptops, easy to use and are light to carry around. Plus, a...
Make the most of your smartphone silversurfers_smartphone
A smartphone can do more than merely keep you in touch, it’s almost like carrying a powerful...
Grow your own vegetables, fruit and herbs silversurfers_gyo
Whether you’re new to growing vegetables, fruit and herbs, have some experience or just want to...
Buyer's Guide to TVs silversurfers_tv_buys_guide
Your TV is the hub of your living room, so it’s worth getting it right when you’re in the...
Financing a care home Elderly care
There’s no way around it: care homes are expensive. In 2012-2013 the average weekly cost of...
How to start the process of arranging care WHICH? ELDERLY CARE
Arranging care for a relative can be extremely stressful, with people facing very difficult...
Which? Which is partnering with Which? to publish guides, features and special offers...
Writing a will Will-writing
If you have dependents, you need to have a will. If you’ve never got around to making a will...
How to have a beautiful lawn Lawn
Here are some top tips on how to have a beautiful lawn from Which? Magazine Mow your lawn...
How to make houseplants healthy Houseplants
Below are some top tips for you to keep your houseplants healthy from Which? Magazine...