Wall and Hanging Baskets
If you are short of space, or need to brighten up a drab corner or a bare wall, then baskets or a container is the answer.
Choosing the basket:
There are many types and sizes of hanging baskets available, for example:
They can be made from terra cotta, plastic, wire mesh,(the latter being the most common), plus there are half baskets (mangers) made from similar materials for fixing to walls.
The most important consideration when choosing a hanging basket is the size of the plants it will contain.
The basket should be large enough to give space for the roots to spread out.
A basket 300-450mm.in diameter should give sufficient space for most plants.
Where to hang it?
When choosing the type of bracket consider the weight it will have to carry, a large basket made of clay becomes very heavy once it is filled with moist compost.
When choosing the position for your basket, take into account how you are going to water it.
Brackets are now available with pulleys and cords attached, which allow you to lower a basket for easy watering.
Plants grown in a hanging basket have less compost to develop in compared to what they would have had, had they been planted out in the garden border, therefore they are susceptible to drying out more quickly.
They require watering regularly, sometimes as often as 3 times a day in very hot weather.
Wall baskets tend to dry out less quickly.
Filling the basket:
Place the empty basket on a bucket or large plant pot, to hold it steady when filling and planting it up.
Insert a basket liner into the basket to retain the compost.
Liners can be made with sphagnum moss, moss wool, preformed liners made of felt, or compressed peat, one can also use fine plastic mesh or sheet plastic.
After lining the basket, place a waterproof saucer shaped container in the bottom of the basket to form a moisture reservoir.
This container could be a ceramic or plastic soup plate, a plant saucer, or a piece of sheet plastic cut from an old compost bag.
Place a layer of drainage material, e.g. clay granules or horti-grit in the saucer.
(This is not necessary if you use a compost specially designed for hanging baskets).
Fill the basket with potting compost e.g. John Innes No2 or equivalent.
Prior to filling the basket with compost, premix water retention granules and slow release fertilizer granules into your compost mix.
This ensures that food and water is more uniformly distributed through out the basket.
Prior to planting up,insert a plant pot or bottomless vending cup in the basket so that the top is level with the finished compost level.
This will greatly assist watering the lower levels of the basket later in the season, when the dense root ball has formed.
The basket is now ready for filling with your flower selection.
A hanging basket planted with a variety of both upright and hanging / trailing plants always looks good.
A simple arrangement could be Begonias, Fuchsias or Pelargoniums in the middle of the basket, trailing Begonias and Lobelias around the outer edge.
Normally most people associate hanging / trailing plants for baskets, at the expense of many other types of plants.
Here is method to give width and height to a basket;
Select upright growing plants that in a normal situation, would grow to around 300-400mm high. e.g. Antirrhinum, Schizanthus, Gypsophila to name but a few.
Insert them in the first layer of plants around the bottom of the basket, ensure you fill in between the plants with compost and do not leave any voids.
Initially, the plants will just hang down, but when they get going they will do what all such plants do, they will reach for the sun.
In doing this they will form a ‘U’ shape and grow upwards, so effectively they cover the sides of the basket.
You could also add a few trailing varieties in the same layer and this will add depth to the arrangement.
The choice of plants for baskets is endless so really the choice comes down to the owner, so to that end the writer will refrain from naming varieties.
When planting up has been completed keep the filled basket/s at a minimum temperature of 8°-10°C (46-50°F) for a few days.
This can be done by placing them in a cold frame, cold greenhouse or if none of these are available, place plants outside during the day and return them indoors in late afternoon if conditions allow.
Keep the basket/s in full light, but not direct sunlight, and ensure it/they are protected from late frosts.
To encourage plants to bush out, pinch out the tips of the leading shoot/s when they are approx 4” (100m) tall.
Some plants e.g. Fuchsias can stand a second pinching out approx 4 weeks later to make them bushier.
This second pinching will delay the flowering date.
Regular removal of dead flower heads will encourage more flowers thus extending the flowering season.
Nutrients are washed out of the compost every time you water, so give a liquid feed at least once a week.
Commence feeding approximately two weeks after planting out.
For baskets containing flowering subjects, feed with a high potash based fertiliser e.g. Tomato feed, whereas baskets grown for foliage effect do better with a balanced feed.
Keep well watered at all times but avoid water-logging.
Little and often is better than infrequent soakings.
As the season progresses and the container fills with roots the basket/s may require water more than once per day particularly in warm dry weather.