How to make hanging baskets out of throwaway junk

Kitchen colanders, old wellies and woolly jumpers can help create beautiful hanging baskets, says gardening expert Chris Collins.

From milk cartons to baked beans tins, colanders to old pullovers, green fingered growers at Garden Organic are encouraging gardeners to get creative with their hanging baskets to help protect the planet and their purses.

With more of us taking up gardening during the pandemic, the horticultural charity is expecting a big uplift in the popularity of hanging baskets ahead of the summer. But if you don’t already have a regular basket to reuse, before visiting the garden centre check what you might have lying around at home that could be transformed into a sustainable container.

Former Blue Peter gardener and Garden Organic’s head of horticulture Chris Collins says: “I live in a flat with a balcony, so container growing and hanging baskets are an important part of my organic growing life.

Garden Organic's Chris Collins looks after the hanging plants on his balcony (Garden Organic/PA)

Chris Collins on his balcony

“You don’t need to spend a lot of money; you can make your own highly-original ‘basket’, which can be a delight throughout the year. Many can be made from your household rubbish – much better for the environment and an excellent talking point as we spend time with friends and family outside again.”

4 common household items to upcycle into hanging baskets

1. Colander


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lovesuccs4life (@lovesuccs4life)

An old colander, with its ready-made drainage holes, is ideal. “Just make sure you line it with a layer of grit or matting (such as recycled jute, sisal or coir), moss or even an old woollen jumper – this must be 100% wool as synthetic fibres can break down into the soil – to prevent the compost blocking the holes or falling out,” Collins advises. “They will have a tendency to dry out quicker than other baskets, but are a perfect home for plants that don’t mind dry conditions, like succulents or thyme.”

2. Old wellington boots


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Norman Beecher (@nbeecher58)

Old wellies make quirky additions to the patio and if you haven’t much ground space, you can simply hang them up on a post or wall and then fill them with compost and pretty trailing plants.

3. Tin cans


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Marcía Lantow (@marcialantow)

These can be painted in bright colours or in subtle tones, depending on the effect you want, with drill holes in the base for drainage and the sides so you can suspend them with string from posts. Some people make feature walls and posts of different coloured cans, cascading with bright flowers.

“Bold new baskets can be filled with repeat flowerers like pelargoniums, petunia and begonia which will keep blooming through the summer,” says Collins.

4. Single-use plastics


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Wyevale Garden Centres (@wyevalegc)

“Hanging baskets aren’t just for decoration. They’re also great for growing herbs and veggies,” says Collins. “My strawberries did well last year in their milk bottle tower and I’ve got tomatoes growing in DIY containers, too.

“Coriander, basil and parsley leaves will make delicious additions to your dinner. Chives and thyme will also give delightful flowers which pollinators will love as much as you.

“Tumbling tomatoes and chilli peppers will all flower and fruit so long as they are in a sheltered, sunny position. By growing your own in this way, you’re helping to reduce your food miles and cut down on single-use plastic packaging.”

How to achieve hanging basket success

Hand Spring GIF by HORNBACH - Find & Share on GIPHY


Get the right soil mix: “All plants grown in containers need plenty of nutrients, especially flowering ones. Get your potting mix right by using peat free potting compost or making your own,” says Collins.

“A combination of soil with homemade compost and grit to give good drainage will make an ideal growing mix. Top up with a liquid feed every couple of weeks. Make your own from comfrey or nettle leaves steeped in water or buy a certified organic fertiliser.”

Deadhead often: “Keep deadheading regularly. This prevents the plant from setting seed, and encourages further blooms.”

Site your basket sensibly: “Choose your hanging place wisely. You need plenty of sun and shelter from wind.”

Further information and tips on growing organically can be found at

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

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!