How to plant a hanging basket

Bring colour and interest to your garden and house at every level by placing some well-planted hanging baskets.

A beautiful hanging basket, filled with variety and complimentary shades, is a striking but simple statement and can offer all-year round flowers at great value.

Things like herbs and strawberry plants can also be grown in hanging baskets.

Types of hanging basket

  • Wire hanging baskets – these need to have a liner added to hold the soil and plants.
  • Wicker hanging basket – usually already lined with plastic and needing drainage holes made.
  • Plastic hanging baskets – some of these come with their own water reservoir.

What you need for your hanging basket

  • A large basket, about 12 to 18inches (30-45cm) in diameter.
  • Basket liner or moss.
  • Good quality compost.
  • A bucket or large pot to keep your basket stable during potting.
  • Water-retaining gel crystals.
  • Slow-release fertiliser granules or tablets.
  • Well-watered plants.

The best plants for a hanging basket

Young plug plants are a cost-effective way of planting but will need a bit longer to grow on and fill a hanging basket.

You could choose an upright fuchsia or geranium for the centre of the basket, with two trailing fuchsias, two ivy-leaved geraniums and two trailing verbena to fill the rest of the basket.

A few foliage plants, such as nepeta or helicrysum, can be planted at the edge to trail over the side.

How many plants in a hanging basket?

The number of plants needed for a hanging basket display depends on your own preference, the type of plants used and the size of the basket.

As a rough guide for a 14inch (35cm) hanging basket, about six to eight plug plants may be needed around the edges and a further five to seven for the centre.

How to prepare a hanging basket

  • Put the basket on the bucket or pot to make it stable.
  • Line the basket with moss or a pre-formed basket liner.
  • If using a liner, push out the pre-cut discs so you can plant through the sides.
  • Cut a plastic disc from a bin-liner or empty compost bag to sit in the bottom of the basket as a water reservoir.
  • If using moss to line, you can line the inside of it with plastic, cutting slits to plant through and small holes above the reservoir area for drainage.
  • Mix your planting compost with the water-retaining gel and slow-release fertiliser according to the pack instructions.

How to plant in the sides of a hanging basket

  • Add compost to the basket until it’s half full.
  • Gently push the plants’ root-ball from the outside, through the gaps in the side of the basket into the compost. When you do this, place the root-ball in a plastic bag to protect them and remove the bag.
  • Fill all the planting spaces, resting the necks of the plants gently on the edge of the basket.
  • Cover roots completely with compost, ensuring the neck of the plant is securely against the basket and fill to about 1inch (2.5cm) below the rim.

How to plant in the centre and top of a hanging basket

Make a depression in the compost and place a large, upright plant in the centre.

  • Add more plants evenly around the top, topping up with compost, making sure they are bedded in and firm.
  • Allow a little space from the top of the compost to the rim of the basket for watering.
  • Slope the compost downwards into the centre slightly to create a watering reservoir.
  • Water well and place in a greenhouse or conservatory to grow on before placing outside after all danger of frost passes.
  • If you don’t have a greenhouse, plant your basket a bit later and use mature potted plants, planted closer together, for an immediate effect.