Suffolk Landscape Designers
Landscaping throughout the Suffolk area.

If you are lucky (or foresighted enough) to have a guaranteed frost-free greenhouse or conservatory, then early spring is the perfect time for making up hanging baskets. When those frosty mornings have finally gone the plants in your baskets can be hardened off. That way you can hang them and get a head start on the bedding season.


  Suffolk Landscape Gardeners
Here are a few straightforward guidelines to the perfect hanging baskets: 

Step 1

Check what amount of light your basket will receive over the course of the day. Will it be in sun or shade especially at mid-day.  This will affect which type of plants will thrive in it (i.e. sunny or shady ones).

Step 2

Choose the basket that appeals to you.  There are so many different style baskets to select from., Wire side-planted baskets, wicker, plastic and those with water reservoirs built into them or without. The secret to successful hanging baskets is "larger is better" as a larger basket can hold more compost and lets the plant's roots spread further. 

Step 3

Get your basket prepared for filling. It is often best to stand your hanging basket in a large, sturdy pot to support it. Please make sure it only sits about 2-3 inches into the pot or it may get stuck.  Doing this makes it a lot easier to fill, as most baskets either have rounded bottoms or drain holes in the bottom.

 Step 4

It is worth inserting a liner if the basket doesn't have a built in lining.  The choice of liner is down to you and there are a wide range to pick from. These include; recycled wood fibres, pre-formed compressed fibre, sphagnum moss, coconut fibre, and many more.  It is a good idea is to use a liner slightly large than the basket, for a 12” basket fit a 14” liner.

Step 5

Start filling your basket with good compost, mixed with controlled release fertilizer and swell gel up to the halfway point.  If needed cut holes or crosses in the sides of the basket (not too many 4/5 for a 14 inch basket is enough). These should be slightly above the top of the compost.  Carefully push each plant through from the outside of the cuts. Ensure that the root ball sits on top of the compost, and that the leafy growth falls outside the basket. 

Step 6

Now top the compost up to about 1 inch from the rim of the basket.  Any higher and when you water your basket it will all overflow. Especially with the swell gel doing it's job and giving you what will look like a miniature volcano.

 Step 7

Next you should plant up the top of the basket.  Add the trailing plants to the top spaced above and between those planted in the side. Add an attractive centre piece, which should be upright to stand above the trailing plants.  Once these are in, firm in the plants, if needed add a little more compost. Remember to leave that 1 inch gap.  

Step 8

Water your basket on the floor, gently, with a watering can fitted with a fine rose (for beginners the rose is the shower-head type thing on the spout).  Now you can grow them on in a frost-free greenhouse for 2 weeks or so, this give them time to establish before then hardening off. This involves leaving them out during the day and bringing them in at night. Hardening off should only take one or two weeks and afterwards your plants will happily survive the nights cold and occasional late (and hopefully mild) frost).  If you chose particularly hardy or more mature plants, then you can put them straight out without giving them these few weeks of settling and hardening. But keep and eye on weather reports for overnight frost.

Step 9

As with all containers you must take care not to let the compost dry out.  Water must be added every day, morning and evening, especially if grown in full sun.  The best technique for watering is to gently fill the space above the compost. Allow the water to soak into the compost and the excess to drain. Check again and repeat if necessary.  Make sure you dead-head your baskets regularly, as this ensures a good succession of flowers all through the summer.

Step 10

Enjoy your baskets all through the summer.

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