Take gardening to new heights
Hanging baskets are an easy and cost-effective way to brighten your outdoors. They add a seasonal pop of colour that works well hung in your front garden to welcome guests, in your backyard and even from a suitable structure.
It doesn't matter how little space you have to play with, and you can use all kinds of plants, including herbs and fruit as well as flowers, creating interesting and colourful displays throughout the year. Coordinate them with beds and borders for a matching look or give them their own distinctive style for gardening glory at raised heights.
So let's get started on creating your hanging basket.
Tools & materials required
How to choose your basket and liner
Hanging baskets come in a wide range of different styles and materials. Classic options include plastic-coated wire or wicker baskets, but increasingly popular are solid-sided baskets in terracotta, ceramic and even polished steel, that have built-in water reservoirs and are ideal for hot, exposed conditions.
Lining your basket will help keep moisture in and stop compost from falling out. The traditional lining material is sphagnum moss, which is farmed specially for this purpose (so don't collect it from the wild). Many gardeners prefer to use other materials such as coco fibre. Alternatively there are purpose-made options such as thick, felt-like liners made from recycled fibres and solid liners which, with care, should last for several seasons. If you use a solid liner, make sure it's deep enough for your chosen basket.
Some of our hanging baskets come pre-lined so, depending on the material, you simply need to puncture a few holes in the bottom for drainage.
How to choose your plants
You can use almost any small plant for a hanging basket, as long as it doesn't outgrow its container.
Summer bedding plants
Young small shrubs
You can plant evergreen shrubs likes hebes in hanging baskets to give a splash of colour throughout the winter, and then replant them in pots for the garden in spring.
The trailing varieties are perfect for hanging baskets. For more information on planting and growing your own tomatoes, check out our how to guide.
Like tomatoes, these are an interesting (and edible) addition to your hanging garden. And they are also really easy to grow. Get expert advice on growing your own with our step-by-step advice.
When to plant
Late spring is the best time to plant summer bedding plants in baskets and planters. This gives them a few weeks to establish themselves and will give an instant impact when you hang them up outdoors. For everything else, be sure to read the instructions on the packaging for an idea of when they should planted.
It's a good idea to keep your plants somewhere frost-free until it's safe to move them outdoors. If this isn't possible wait until there's no risk of frost before planting them. If your plants aren't tender it should be fine to plant them mid-spring, when they'll start to grow properly.
If you are looking for a winter display, the time to plant these is early autumn – around the same time as spring-flowering bulbs.
How to plant and put up your hanging basket
You will need:
- Your chosen plants
- Hanging basket
- Hanging basket liner
- Hanging basket bracket and hooks
- Hanging basket compost
- Water-saving gel
- Slow-release plant food
Place a liner in your basket (if it doesn’t have one already) and half-fill it with compost. A specialist moisture-retaining compost is best.
Then add water-saving gel and slow-release plant food to help keep your plants moist and nourished throughout the season.
Top tip: Balance your basket when planting
Prevent your hanging basket from rolling about while you’re planting it by standing it on a bucket, pot or even a small saucepan.
Around the sides of your basket, gently push the roots of trailing plants through the hanging basket liner, and firm them into the compost.
Do this all the way round the outside of the basket, and add a little more compost.
Arrange the remaining plants in the top of the basket: one in the middle and the rest around the edge.
Firm more compost around the root balls, keeping the final level a few centimetres (cm) below the top of the basket to allow room for watering.
Then water your plants well.
Select your spot for hanging. We recommend hanging your basket well above head height to avoid accidents and far enough away from the wall to avoid damage in windy weather,
Once decided upon, mark the fixing holes in pencil and check they're vertical with a spirit level.
Select the hammer action on your drill and drill with an appropriately-sized masonry drill bit into the brick, not the mortar. Drill deep enough so that the wall plugs can be inserted fully and clean the hole out.
Insert the right-sized wall plugs for the hole.
Tap in gently with a hammer until they're flush with the wall.
Fix the bracket to the wall with the screws and check that it's firmly attached.
Hang the basket to the bracket using the chains, then water it thoroughly.
Top tip: Hang your basket from a wooden fence post
Add a hanging basket to your fencing. Simply measure and mark where the bracket or hook will go on the wooden fence post and drill pilot holes using a wood drill bit. Insert the screws for the bracket into the hole and screw them home until the bracket is secure. To fit the hook use a wrench with a cloth to protect the hook, and gently tighten the hook as it will be hard to tighten this by hand.
How to care for your hanging basket
To keep your hanging basket looking good, it'll need regular watering and feeding.
Even with the help of water-retaining gel, hanging baskets dry out very quickly. Try to water them at least daily, if not twice a day during the height of summer.
Feeding is equally important. As the average planter or basket contains only a small amount of compost compared with the amount of plant growth it supports, the nutrients will quickly become depleted. Slow-release plant food comes in granules, sticks and nuggets that you can easily push into the compost.
Supplement this with regular liquid feeds, which will give your plants an instant boost. And as with all annuals and perennials, regular deadheading will make your plants flower for longer - so aim to do this every week.
Top tip: Water your basket more easily
Instead of having to stand on a ladder, or remove the hanging basket each time you want to water it, invest in a watering wand or spray gun to help.