Planting a hanging basket
Written by Bernie-woman
Quick, easy and a valuable source of extra space in the smaller garden.
Hanging baskets are quick, easy to plant up and
add height and colour to any garden. All you need is a basket, bracket,
compost, liner and plants.
The first thing you need to do is decide on the size and shape of
your basket. Most are made of plastic coated wire but you can get
baskets made of wrought iron, plastic with water reservoirs and you can
always be resourceful and recycle household items such as a tin bucket
with drainage holes or a metal colander. A couple of things that need
to be considered when choosing the size of your basket are weight and
the frequency of watering. Large baskets look impressive but can be
very heavy and the smaller the basket the more frequent the watering.
In general, a 14 inch or 16inch basket is big enough for most peoples
Once you have chosen your basket, unless it is self contained you
will need to line the basket which will hold the compost in place and
retain moisture. There are many types available including those made
from: cardboard, cocoa-fibre, wool (old woolly jumpers can be used),
polystyrene foam and cotton waste. The traditional liner for baskets
used to be sphagnum moss, which is now not the most ethical choice
unless it comes from a sustainable source. You are not allowed to go
and harvest it from the wild but you can use moss from your own lawns
Place the lined basket on top of a pot so that you have a level basket and some stability for planting.
Before filling with any compost cut a circle of plastic from an old
carrier bag and place it in the bottom of the basket (this will help
Partially fill the basket to approx a third of its depth with a
peat free compost. It is not advised to use garden soil as this will be
too heavy when wet and may not have enough nutrients to sustain the
plants for the growing season.
Start planting up the sides of the basket with plants. It is best
to push the pants out ‘head first’ from the inside of the basket rather
than pushing them in, to avoid damaging the roots.
Fill the top of the basket with more compost, leaving a small gap at the top for watering.
Plant the rest of the basket with plants, leaving a little room for them to fill out.
Feeding & Watering
Hanging baskets are high maintenance. Baskets will need to be well
watered at least once a day and in the height of a hot summer, twice a
You can buy slow release fertilizers that can be added to the basket at
the end of step 3. Alternatively you can feed using a liquid feed
(tomato feed is good) once a week when the plants have filled out a
little and started flowering or fruiting.
More commonly baskets are planted with summer bedding although
baskets can be used to successfully further your herb, vegetable, fruit
and salad growing and are ideal if growing space is limited.
If planting with summer bedding try to get a mix of plants that give
height to the basket and trail from the basket. However, the choice is
yours as to which plants you want. Many can be grown from seed and once
the basket is past its best in the autumn then cuttings can be made
from many of the plants giving you free plants for the following years.
Some of the common bedding plants used in baskets are:
Geranium (standard and trailing)
Fushia (bush and trailing)
Baskets for Vegetables and Herbs
These need a little more attention but can be both attractive and
productive. They must never be allowed to dry out and for this reason
wire baskets are best lined with polythene. Vegetables will certainly
need more space than bedding plants and the amount of plants used will
depend on the variety you choose. For example, a 14inch basket for
tomatoes or peppers would hold approximately 3 plants whereas a bush
cucumber basket would only need the one plant. Look at the plants
growing habit and spread to determine how many plants to put into each
basket. Some of the varieties, which are suited to basket planting,
Yellow Tumbling Tom
Cucumber “Prima Top’
Rosemary (particularly the creeping variety)
Mint (best to be used as an annual as can be a bit of a thug in a shared container)
Capsicum annum ‘Patio Red’
Pepper ’Jingle Bells’
Cut and come again lettuce and salad leaves
Edible flowers such as nasturtium and pansy
Dwarf French and Runner Beans