When spring comes around, the urge to garden begins in earnest. Hanging baskets can add a beautiful pop of colour to any outdoor space, whether this is at your doorway, in the porch or along the edge of a balcony. You can grow your basket plants from seed, buy pre-existing plug plants or, for the sake of ease, pick up a pre-arranged hanging basket, with styling and arrangement handled for you.
But what flowers should you choose for a hanging basket? Does your chosen spot get sufficient sunshine, or is it often covered in shade? And how do you avoid your baskets drying out? It may seem a bit daunting at first, but hanging your plants and flowers above the ground is actually an easy way to display a wealth of blooms that will last all summer long.
To help you choose the plants you should consider, we’ve put together a guide to the best blooms for your outdoor baskets, along with an in-depth guide on planting up and putting out a hanging basket. Get ready to garden!
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Best plants for hanging baskets: At a glance
- Best versatile hanging basket: Apricot Shades | Buy now
- Best hanging basket for shady conditions: Jumbo Fuchsia | Buy now
- Best hanging basket for sunny spots: Geranium Balcon Mix | Buy now
- Best indoor hanging basket: Aeschynanthus ‘Mona Lisa’ lipstick plant | Buy now
How to choose the best hanging basket plants for you
Which plants are best for a hanging basket?
Your plant choice will depend mainly on the conditions of your outdoor space: the strength of the sunlight, the level of shade, and the ease with which you can water the plants inside the basket are all important factors to consider. Take a look at your intended basket-hanging spot a few times over the course of a sunny day to note how much direct light is present and when. For a quick reference, consider the following plants:
Shady spots – trailing fuchsias, busy lizzies, begonias, mimulus, marguerite daisies and lobelia
Bright sunlight – petunias, bougainvillaea, jasmine, geraniums and calibrachoa
In winter – violas, pansies, cyclamen, hellebores and heucheras
How do I plant up a hanging basket?
Basket frame: There are plenty of basket styles and materials on the market, but you’re most likely to use either durable plastic or a metal frame that requires a liner. You can upcycle your own baskets, too, as long as you drill a few drainage holes and fix chains to the sides.
Preparation: Find a sturdy surface on which to balance your hanging basket. This will keep it in position while you arrange your plants.
Liner: You can buy liners made from recycled paper, plastic or natural fibre such as coir. It’s also a good idea to press either a small plate or a scrap of non-compostable material at the base of the liner: this will help retain water in drier weather. Many people like to have plants emerging from the basket’s sides to cover the liner’s appearance and make your hanging basket appear fuller. Some liners have pre-cut holes for this purpose; but you can easily cut in a few small holes yourself and push the plant through from the outside.
Potting compost: Fill your basket with a generous amount of rich potting mix or multi-purpose compost, along with a slow-release granular fertiliser mixed in. This will reduce how often you’ll have to feed it – although you could use a liquid fertiliser added at half strength approximately once a week instead. Also consider using water-storing crystals to retain moisture throughout summer. If planting through the sides, fill a quarter of the basket up to the level of the lowest hole so the root ball of the plant can rest on the surface of the compost. Add all your side plants, then additional compost.
Arrangement: This is where the fun really begins with hanging baskets. Similar to arranging flowers in a vase, you can choose a centrepiece plant for your focal point, then add complementary filler plants around it. If you add spiller plants to trail over the sides, it will make for a wonderfully full and mixed basket (this is also known as the “thriller, filler, spiller” concept of planting). Don’t be shy about squeezing in a few extra plants, too – it will make your display look even better!
When in the season can I put my hanging baskets outside?
While you can plant summer baskets from April, it’s advisable to wait until all danger of frost has passed before hanging them outside – this is usually by the end of May. Until then, keep them in a greenhouse or wait to plant them.
For winter baskets you can plant up and place outside between September and October. It shouldn’t matter if there’s frost overnight since any winter plants should be hardy enough to withstand all weathers.
Regardless of the season, it’s worth remembering that hanging baskets aren’t the best environment for plants, since they can dry out quickly. Make sure to stay on top of your watering schedule and give them liquid feed on a regular basis, too.
Hanging baskets are typically used for summer bedding plants outdoors, but there’s no reason that you can’t use the same baskets indoors during winter. You don’t have to plant flowers either: try your hand at some lovely indoor houseplants, or even grow some herbs for the kitchen.
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The best hanging basket plants to buy in 2022
1. ‘Apricot Shades’ Pre-planted Basket: Most versatile hanging basket
Price: £19.99 | Buy now from YouGarden
Begonias are a wonderfully versatile flower and a brilliant choice for a hanging basket. Equally happy in either sun or semi-shade, this variant produces plenty of large double blooms in a variety of warm shades – apricot, orange and gold – that will gently trail down from the basket for a gorgeous spilling effect. These begonia blooms are good in all weathers, and hardy enough to last throughout the summer, right into autumn – although they’re usually regarded as an annual flower.
When placing this basket, try to choose a sunny spot that’s sheltered from high winds, and make sure you keep the plants well watered. Remove smaller, more faded blooms to encourage larger flowers to grow.
YouGarden has lots of pre-planted hanging baskets for sale in durable green plastic, which