Have you ever admired a lush hanging basket at the nursery and wished for one of your own? Let’s face it, hanging baskets are expensive and the price just seems to rise every year. Fortunately, growing your own annuals in a hanging basket doesn’t have to break the bank. Here’s what you need to know…
How to grow annuals in hanging baskets
If you want to successfully grow annuals in hanging baskets, you’ll first have to consider what kind of annual will work best for your situation.
Some annuals like impatiens (busy Lizzies) prefer shady areas while others like petunias do well in full sun. Let’s take a look at the best annuals to grow in hanging baskets.
Best annuals for hanging baskets:
Violas are usually grown as annuals in hanging baskets. They are distinguished by their 5 petalled flowers that range in colour from blue and purple to yellow and pink. They have quite a lovely scent which makes them perfect for nose-level hanging baskets.
Violas prefer nutrient-rich, moist soil that drains well in a sunny to a partially shady location. Keep in mind that the sun exposure necessary may vary depending on the variety.
2. Sweet alyssum
This low growing bushy plant works perfectly in a hanging basket and will even work as a butterfly lure. The flowers are either white, pink or purple and have a strong honey scent that will enrich your patio or garden and lure some stunning insects to look at.
This plant does best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.
Primroses are very popular flowers to grow in hanging baskets. They can make any dull garden come alive with their beautiful, multi-coloured flowers.
Unfortunately, they are quite vulnerable to pests like aphids and red spider mites so make sure to keep a close eye on them. Primroses do really well in partial shade but will tolerate full sun with some extra care.
Petunias are a favourite around the world when it comes to hanging baskets. They also make excellent additions to a moon garden since they are most fragrant in the evening.
Unfortunately, those with a very humid climate sometimes struggle with petal blight. If you want a basket that looks full and overflows with flowers, then the petunia is a great choice. They even come in a variety of colours from yellow and black to pink and purple.
5. Million bells
Million bells is a cousin of the petunia that’s a bit hardier when it comes to temperature and pests.
They come in a variety of colours that range from yellow to blue to bronze. They will stay in bloom for a long time with just some moist soil and a full day of sun to keep them vibrant.
Lobelia usually has blue, purple or white flowers with neat, compacted foliage to add to its overall beauty in a hanging basket.
Lobelia prefers full sun with moist, well-drained soil and thrives in moderate temperatures. If you want to lure some butterflies to your garden, you can’t go wrong with lobelia.
Impatiens or busy Lizzies are well-loved for their array of cheery flowers in all colours. They flourish in shady locations with some protection against wind and rain.
If you live in a humid environment, you’ll need to pay attention to avoid overwatering since impatiens are susceptible to grey mould.
It might seem a bit strange since this is not your typical flowering plant, but you can also grow edible plants in hanging baskets.
Tomatoes make a great hanging basket plant along with some edible herbs. Make sure to hang the basket in an area with full sun and watch your crop grow and spill over the edge.
Clematis is a very popular hanging basket plant. There are many different varieties with a range of flower colours.
The best variety for a hanging basket is one of the compact varieties. Clematis generally prefers a sunny spot, but some varieties will tolerate partial shade.
Begonias are an excellent choice if you’re thinking of hanging your basket in a partly shady area. Begonias have stunning colours ranging from red to bronze that will be displayed throughout summer into autumn.
Do take care not to overwater them however since they are quite prone to developing root rot. There are a lot of begonia varieties to choose from, so make sure you get one that suits your climate.
When to plant annuals in hanging baskets
Hanging baskets aren’t that different from planting in-ground when it comes to timing. You will still need to avoid frost and protect your plants against very cold nights. Despite all that, however, it is possible to start your hanging baskets slightly earlier.
Hanging baskets can easily be moved around which makes it very easy to bring them indoors. This allows you to plant your hanging baskets slightly earlier than you would in-ground.
If frost is a possibility, you can simply move them to protect them. The soil in the basket will also warm up faster than ground soil does.
How to plant hanging baskets
Before you can plant, you will need a hanging basket. There are loads of different baskets available at nurseries, some already lined with coco coir ready to be planted.
You will also need to line the bottom of your basket to prevent water from just rushing out of the bottom. Lots of nurseries use liners to increase water retention. You can either buy these special liners or make your own by using a plastic bag with a few holes in it.
The next thing you’ll need is potting soil. You can buy potting soil from a nursery. Never use normal garden soil It’s too heavy for your basket and may carry diseases that will negatively affect your plants. It’s best to choose a lightweight potting soil made especially for hanging baskets.
Now to choose your plants. You can be quite creative and create baskets with a mixture of plants or you can use one species to dominate your basket. If you’re choosing a mixture, make sure to choose a plant that grows tall and upright for the middle focal point. You can place trailing or spreading varieties around it to create a nicely filled basket effect.
As an extra, you can also rip holes into the side of your baskets and add plants to them. A plant that does really well growing like this is sweet alyssum. Also, make sure you know how many plants to plant in your preferred basket size.
Here are the general rules for planting in baskets:
- Use one plant per 2.5 cm (inch) of basket diameter
- If you’re using strong growing plants like fuchsias, only plant one plant for every 6 cm (2.4 inches) of basket diameter
This means that if you have a 30cm (12 inch) basket, you can plant 12 plants in it unless you have a strong grower like fuchsias. In that case, you can only plant 5 plants in the same size hanging basket.
How to care for hanging baskets
Caring for hanging baskets is fairly easy. To keep yours looking great, keep the following in mind:
Do some pruning
One of the best ways to keep your baskets looking great is to regularly prune away leggy and dead plant stems, flowers and leaves. Your plants will grow bushier over time and produce more flowers as you trim away the wilted ones.
Hanging baskets tend to dry out much faster because of how they are structured. The coco coir isn’t great at keeping moisture in after all. You will need to take this into account and water your plants regularly to prevent them from drying out and dying as a result.
If you’re unsure if your plants need to be water simply stick your finger about 2.5 cm (1 inch) into the soil and feel for moisture. If it feels dry, water your plant thoroughly.
Hanging baskets also need to be fertilised more regularly than in-ground plants. The regular waterings will quickly flush out any nutrients in the little bit of potting soil you have inside the basket.
To prevent your plants from starving and to increase the number of blooms, fertilise every week with liquid fertiliser or once a month with a solid fertiliser.
Replace dead plants
Once your plants start to die back, there’s no point struggling to keep these annuals alive. Simply take them out and replace them with other plants to keep your baskets looking great.
How many plants can be planted in a hanging basket?
The number of plants will depend on the type of plant as well as the size of your basket. The general rule is one plant for every 2.5 cm (inch) of planting space inside your basket unless you have a vigorous grower. In the case of a vigorous grower like fuchsias, plant 1 plant in every 6 cm of planting space.
Why do my hanging baskets die?
Hanging baskets are a lot more sensitive to lack of water and need more fertilising than when growing the same plants in-ground.
Can you line hanging baskets with plastic?
Hanging baskets can be lined with plastic to reduce the loss of moisture. You will, however, have to make sure to puncture the plastic at the lowest point of the basket to allow drainage. Not doing so may result in your plants drowning and developing root rot.