Have you always wanted to produce the biggest and brightest Hanging Basket that is the envy of all who see it as they pass? Well, now you can produce a basket as good as the best professional with this simple guide and the correct basket to use.
1. The Basket
After many years of growing baskets commercially we can now only reccomend the new and innovative Easi Plant Hanging Basket. It is not only very easy to plant, but also has many advantages including reduced water loss, improved root growth compared to a fully plastic lined basket and is re-useable year after year. To read how to plant the basket please go here. Filling the Easi Plant Basket
2. Where will the Basket hang.
The vast majority of hanging basket plants flower best in full sun, so try and choose psitions that will get the longest hours of sunshine during the day. If you hang the basket in the shade, or under a roof or tree, it may grow well, but will stay very green, and simply not flower well.
It is vital that the basket is never allowed to dry out and the plants allowed to wilt. Just one day of drying out and the plant leaves will start to go yellow and put the plants into stress - you may not notice the difference the first time, it can be a very subtle change, but the damage is done. You must be especially vigilant on windy days, imagine sheets on a washing line - if they are drying quickly, then the wind is doing exactly the same to your hanging basket! One final point to remember is that as the amount of foliage on the plants gets bigger, so the basket needs proportionally more water. Watering Solutions - Incorporate water retaining gel in the compost, install either an automatic watering system or resevoir for the basket, and check it regularly, start by sticking your finger into the compost, if your finger comes out sticky and wet, then the basket is too wet, it should come out damp with a little compost attached, then you are doing a good job, if the compost is hard - that means it is also too dry. As you get used to checking your baskets, you will find that by putting your hand at the base of the basket and lifting slightly, you will soon learn how heavy the basket should be to be well watered. As a guide a fully grown basket on a hot day in the height of summer will probably need watering in both the morning and again in the evening.
Do not be tempted into thinking that watering alone is enough. Even if you incorporated slow release fertilizer in the compost at the beginning, if you are going to grow a really large basket, you should feed at lease once a week. A weak feed suitable for tomatoe plants is probably one of the best! The bigger the plants get, so the more they need feed - half way through the summer it is always a good idea to add some more slow release granules to the top of the basket. Be careful not to get diluted feed onto the plant foliage as this can dry out and cause unsightly white deposits.
5. Soil Mixes
The best soil mix to use is half soil based John Innes mix to half good quality multi-purpose potting mix, with a handful of slow release fertilizer and a small handfull of water retaining gel crystals, mix thoroughly, and then use for filling the baskets.
6. Choice of Plants
The first hurdle is to decide if you want a colour theme, although multi coloured baskets tend to be most colourful, with a good contrast between splashes of blues against yellows and reds, or whites in amongst purples and oranges standing out well. Once you have decided on your colours, it is very important to understand the growing habits of the different plants, we are assuming you are planting either an easi-plant basket, or an ordinary basket with either moss or liner, firstly you need truly hanging plants for the very base of the basket, these can include surfinia petunias, verbena, nepeta, covolvulus and one very striking yellow plant to use is lysimachia nummularia aurea goldilocks - better known as creeping jenny, or for lovely silver foliage try the recent introduction Dichondra Silver Falls. Above these lower plants, you need a mix of two different growth habits, the plants that grow out horizontally and produce the width of the basket, here you can include such plants as scaevola, bidens - although you would do well to get the shorter varieties, any of the helichrysiums for foliage colour or trailing ivy leaved geraniums - the continental varieties are great for this as they produce a true mass of flowers - be warned, don't overdo these "horizontal growers", 2 or3 at the most, otherwise they can look a mess! In amongs these plants you need the shorter and more compact basket plants such as million bells, diascia, bacopa, the lovely orange anagalis sunrise and then for a splash of vibrant colour some busy lizzie will perform well here. Finally we get to plants for the top of the basket, and some of the best plants to use are trailing fiberouse rooted begonias, or their upright cousins - the Non Stop begonias, alternatively upright or semi trailing fuchsia can make a good centerpiece. The remainder of the top is a good place to plant either more busy lizzy, or trailing lobelia around the edge.
Remember, you can either plant directly with plugs, or partially grown plants.
Once you have finished, don't forget to thoroughly soak the basket to give the plants a good start.