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Best expert advice on hanging baskets

Eton Mess Pre-Planted Baskets from Suttons

If you’re looking for tips to give your hanging baskets the wow factor, we’ve scoured the online gardening community for green-fingered bloggers, Youtubers, and Instagrammers who know their stuff. Here’s a compilation of the best content to give you the edge over your neighbours as well as instant kerb appeal…

And when you’re ready to get started, take inspiration from our colour themed collections of bedding plants or design your own scheme from our wide range of hanging basket plants and flowers

Contents: 

Best advice on how to plant a hanging basket

Greenville Hanging Basket from Suttons
Modern style hanging baskets contain drip trays to help with watering
Image: Greenville Hanging Basket from Suttons

Before you do any planting or hanging, you’ll need to install a sturdy wall bracket from which to suspend your basket. Luckily, Chez, the Ultimate Handyman, is here to demonstrate how to do it. It’s an easy job, he says, but the most important thing is to remember to use rust-proof screws. Watch his video for a simple demonstration.

Nowhere suitable to put a bracket up? Marie of @marie_cottagelife_ posts an image of a truly delightful hanging basket which she’s suspended from the branch of an apple tree. This is a great example of an alternative way to display your baskets, and we think you’ll agree it looks divine.

Before you fill your hanging basket with compost, position an old saucer in the bottom, says Catherine Hughes of Growing Family. Hanging baskets can be challenging to keep well-watered, especially during dry spells and when you’re away for a day or two. Adding a saucer to your hanging basket, Catherine says, “will act as a water reservoir, and also cut down on leakage.

If you have a basket between 12 inches and 14 inches across, you can plant between 3 and 5 basket plants,” says John Moore of Pyracantha. And if you’re planting the sides as well, you can safely add the same number again. This advice assumes you’re using plants grown in 9” pots, but if you’re planting your hanging basket with plugs, you can double the number without compromising your plants’ ability to thrive.

If you’re planting a hanging basket using plug plants, it’s worth the trouble to harden them off before leaving your hanging basket out overnight, says Marie of Plews Garden Design. As for the number of plants, she says a good rule of thumb is “one plant per inch of hanging basket diameter. However, stronger growing plants such as pelargoniums and fuchsias do need more room, so half the amount.

If you’ve planted the same hanging baskets year after year, could it be time to try something different?,” asks Michael Perry of Mr Plant Geek. Head over to his post to learn more about the Indonesian concept of ‘tamandama’. His lovely photos demonstrate the process of creating unique hanging arrangements grown in a ball of moss.

Best advice on caring for a hanging basket

Begonia Non-Stop Mix from Suttons
Begonias are popular hanging basket plants for their long, eye-catching display
Image: Begonia Non-Stop Mix from Suttons

The key to a stunning hanging basket is keeping the plants well-watered, but that can be quite a challenge during the summer months. Here with some timely advice is Mark Ridsdill Smith of Vertical Veg. He recommends adding vermiculite or perlite to the compost or, for a cheaper, less energy-intensive product, he says, “worm compost also retains water well (and it’s free if you make it yourself and it’s sustainable!).” Head over to Mark’s blog to discover more excellent watering tips.

“When it comes to watering hanging flower baskets, the trick is to never let them get too dry,”  says Catherine Hughes of Growing Family. “Once the compost is really dry, water tends to run off rather than soak in, and that makes it hard for your plants to get the moisture they need.” She recommends watering in the morning to give plants time to suck in the moisture before it evaporates, and says watering slowly helps the water to seep into the compost rather than running away.

Back at Vertical Veg, Mark Ridsdill Smith also recommends the ‘bottle trick’: “Cut off the bottom of an old 1/2 litre plastic bottle and drill a couple of small holes (about 1/8 inch diameter should do) in the lid. Put the bottle, lid facing down, into the compost. When watering, simply fill the cut off end of the bottle with your watering can – and the water will slowly drip out of the holes in the lid.

Best plants for spring and summer hanging baskets

Calibrachoa Calita® Double Pink Bicolour from Suttons
With a profusion of double bicolour blooms, Calibrachoa make an excellent basket display
Image: Calibrachoa Calita® Double Pink Bicolour from Suttons

Not everyone is blessed with a south-facing garden,” says James Middleton of The Allotment Garden. If your plot is a shady one, this is a must-read post because, as James explains, there are still plenty of ways to grow wonderful hanging baskets. He says if you’re dealing with significant shade, it’s “​​better to aim for high-impact foliage, as opposed to flowers.” His recommendations include ferns, ivy, heuchera and Lamium maculatum.

If you’ve always hankered after hanging baskets full of incredible begonias with huge blooms, head over to YouTube channel Happy Sowing Happy Growing where you’ll see eye-poppingly gorgeous flowers. Paul says he plants a mixture of trailing and upright varieties with “four around the outside and one big one in the middle.” One of Paul’s top choices? ‘Apricot Shades’, and one of his top tips for growing bigger blooms? Pinch out the single, female flowers whilst they are in bud, so that all the plant’s energy is directed into the showier, male flowers.

Fed up with growing catmint only to have the local felines destroy it by rolling in it? Try growing it in your summer hanging baskets instead, says Greg Loades of @hull_urban_gardener. Check out his Insta post to see his “drought tolerant” and highly attractive hanging basket loaded with catmint, sedums and rosemary.

Remember, summer hanging baskets are not just for flowers. Rachel from @rachels.allotment has been busy creating baskets full of delicious veggies: “​​Remember my pea hanging basket,” she asks? “It’s absolutely brimming with peas right now!” In fact, it’s so full that Rachel can’t help nibbling a pod straight from the plant!

Best plants for autumn and winter hanging baskets

Polyanthus Plants ‘Firecracker’ from Suttons
The horticultural team at Suttons recommends Polyanthus ‘Firecracker’ for winter colour
Image: Polyanthus Plants ‘Firecracker’ from Suttons

A winter hanging basket is a low-maintenance way to bring a little extra colour to your garden and keep pollinators happy over the cooler months, says Catherine Hughes of Growing Family. She says bulbs, foliage plants and evergreens are great options to include, with winter pansies and violas, hardy cyclamen and heather among her top choices. Check out her blog post for more.

If you want colour early on in the season, you can plant bulbs like snowdrops in your basket. If you want colour later in the season, you can try mini daffodils such as tete-tete or mini tulips.” These tips from John Moore at Pyracantha come with the added bonus that, once your winter hanging basket has finished flowering, you can move the bulbs into the garden ready for next year’s display.

Remember to turn your winter hanging baskets regularly, says the team of horticulturalists here at Suttons. This is especially important for ensuring all your plants receive enough light during the darker months. A fortnightly feed is also worthwhile. Our experts recommend winter bedding like pansies and primroses, and also suggest Polyanthus ‘Firecracker’ for its fiery, red-tinged petals.

Sedges are perennials that “perform well in mixed winter hanging baskets where their arching blades add vertical interest and colour contrast,” says Daniel Woodley of DIY Gardening. He also recommends creeping Jenny, crocus, trailing ivy, and winter-flowering hellebores.

We hope that these wonderful tips will help you to produce spectacular hanging baskets that prove a triumph. For more gardening advice, head over to the Suttons blog where you’ll find a wealth of information at your fingertips.

Lead image: Eton Mess Pre-Planted Baskets from Suttons

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