Hanging baskets, containers and flower pouches allow you to decorate your walls, fences and patios with colourful flowers and foliage! They can really brighten up a dull area whether it's in sunny or shady position. In this article you'll find planting advice and suggestions for the best plants for hanging baskets and patio pots.
Hanging baskets and containers are traditionally planted in April and then given frost protection in a greenhouse until late May or early June. This brings the plants on faster giving an earlier display. If you don't have means to protect your plants from frost then it's best to plant up your containers and hanging baskets in late May or early June. Winter hanging baskets are traditionally planted in early autumn, between September and October.
You can grow all sorts of plants in containers from perennials to bedding, fruits, vegetables and even shrubs and small trees! If you're looking for climbing plants for containers then try climbing roses, clematis or sweet peas. Growing strawberries in hanging baskets and containers will prevent slugs and snails from eating your delicious crop. Many other fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers such as herbs,lettuce, tomatoes, dwarf beans, blueberries and rhubarb! Due to their invasive nature, mint, and bamboo can be grown in containers and sunk into the ground to restrict their roots.
To decide how many plants you'll need to fill a container, consider the types of plants you will be growing. Trees and shrubs will each need their own container whereas annual bedding plants are packed quite closely together to provide a full effect. For hanging baskets a general rule is to use one plant per inch of basket diameter - so 12 plants per 12 inch basket. You will only need 5 plants per 12 inch hanging basket for bigger plants such as Geraniums (Pelargoniums), Surfinia Petunias, Fuchsias and culinary herbs. Take a look at the table below for ideas on plants for winter and spring hanging baskets, and summer containers.
|Full Sun||Sun or Shade|
|Bidens||Busy Lizzie (New Guinea)|
|Full Sun||Sun or Shade|
|Dwarf conifers||Carex flagellifera|
|Full Sun||Sun or Shade|
|Albizia||Fuchsia 'Lady in Black'|
|Dianthus (Pinks)||Holly (Standard)|
To plant your Flower pouches fill them with a compost mix such as the one used for filling hanging baskets (see point 3. above). Temporarily seal the top of the pouch with pegs or similar whilst you plant it up. Lay the pouch down and carefully insert one plug plant into each slit. Keep aside one plug plant and pot it up ready for planting into the top of the pouch later on. Water your flower pouch and, keeping it flat; place it somewhere bright and frost-free to grow on. Once the plants have established and are growing well you can un-clip the flower pouch and plant the last remaining potted plant into the top of the pouch. Your flower pouch is now ready to hang up in its final position!
Containers and hanging baskets can be placed outside once all risk of frost has passed. If you've been growing your container or basket indoors then the plants will need to be hardened off for a week before placing in their final positions outside. Provided your plants aren't shade-loving, place them in a sunny position, avoiding windy and exposed sites if possible.
Containers and hanging baskets will dry out quickly in warm weather so make sure you check the compost regularly. If the top half inch of compost feels dry then your container needs watering. It's best to do this either early in the morning or in the evening to try and reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation. If you can't reach into your hanging basket to feel the compost try lifting it from beneath - if it is lightweight and easy to lift then it definitely needs watering! To get an idea of how much the basket should normally weigh try lifting your hanging basket after it has been thoroughly watered.
If you opted not to use a controlled release fertiliser when planting then you will need to give your plants a balanced liquid feed every few weeks to sustain healthy growth and flowering. Only feed container displays between April and October.
To get the best performance from your containers and hanging baskets spend some time deadheading the plants occasionally. Removing the faded flowers stops the plant producing seed and wasting energy it could otherwise use on producing more beautiful flowers!
With a little care your containers, flower pouches and hanging baskets should give you a colourful display from early summer right through until the first frosts of autumn!
You can grow all sorts of plants in containers, including fruit such as strawberries - shown here in a growing bag.
Line your hanging basket and cut a series of 5cm (2") slits around the sides to allow for trailing plants.
Insert your trailing plants into the slits around the sides of the basket.
Gently tease out the roots of the plants.
Aim to reserve a 2.5cm (1") gap below the rim of the basket to prevent compost washing away during watering.
Use bushy upright plants to fill in the centre of your basket or container.
Trim off any material which overlaps the rim of the basket.
Place your summer hanging basket or container in a frost-free place until all risk of frost has passed.
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