On a sunny morning in June I spent a delightful couple of hours at Blackfordby Nursery with the ladies of the local Women’s Institute, showing them how to make hanging baskets.

I learned how while working at a garden centre many years ago. Soon I was solely responsible for hundreds of bespoke orders, and one day I even had my photo taken for the local paper!

They’re a simple way to bring the colours and perfumes of the garden right to your doorstep. If you fancy making one for yourself, here are my top tips:

1. Find the right basket. There are a myriad of styles available at the garden centre – plastic buckets, wicker cones, wire bowls, even uPVC drainpipes. I prefer a traditional wire basket. Remember, the bigger the basket, the bigger (and heavier) the display.

2. Use the correct compost. Your plants will be packed in like sardines, so it’s essential to give them every chance of success by using good quality compost. I recommend adding fertiliser pellets and moisture retaining granules to keep your plants fed and moist.

3. Lining your basket. I always recommend sphagnum moss as a liner. It is a natural product with excellent moisture retaining qualities. Once lined, use a plate-sized circle of plastic sheet, such as a compost bag, to form a bowl inside the moss to assist in retaining water.

Hanging basket demonstration

4. Choose your plants. Not all plants are suitable for hanging baskets – make sure you read the label or ask your nursery for advice. You are looking for plants with a long flowering life. All the popular bedding plants such as Lobelia, Petunias, Geraniums and Fuschia are good. If you have a spider plant, the baby plants on the ends of the runners can be popped in too, and also herbs like Nasturtium and more unusual bedding like Isotoma and Scaveola.

5. Get planting. Start building up the sides of the basket with hanging plants like trailing Geranium, Bacopa, Nepeta or Helichrysum, then add the flowering plants to the top of the basket, spacing them evenly to trail over the edge of the basket, working your way towards the middle. Finish up with a tallish plant like a Geranium or Fuchsia.

6. Water daily, sometimes twice or three times a day if it’s hot and windy. Don’t be afraid to give a bit of a top-up feed later in the season if necessary.

7. Maintenance – deadheading will keep your flowers coming.

If you run a garden club or society and would be interested in a hanging basket demonstration, I run them at Blackfordby Nursery – just give me a ring on 01283 217941 or contact me for more information. I also run demos and classes in garden design, propagation and beginners guides to gardening.


This article first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Village Breeze magazine.