How to Prepare a Hanging Basket

Although hanging baskets of summer-flowering plants are usually seen out of doors they can also be used for a display inside a greenhouse where they can be a highly decorative feature if well prepared and given good aftercare.

Plants that are most suited to cultivation in baskets are those with a pendulous habit. Fuchsias, so popular nowadays, are ideal, but, of course, some varieties are better than others. A few good ones are the crimson-scarlet Marinka, the white and deep crimson Cascade, the cerise and white Swingtime, the creamy-white and pink Mrs Marshall and the pink and purple Lena. Pendulous begonias look delightful in hanging baskets as does the popular Busy Lizzie (Impatiens sultanii), Plants that are used for baskets outside in the summer are Ivy-leaved pelargoniums, trailing lobelia, Campanula isophylla, Asparagus sprengeri and petunias.

Hanging baskets in Thornbury, South Gloucester...

Image via Wikipedia

Hanging baskets are made in various sizes but those of 14 to 16 in. in diameter are likely to look more impressive when the plants are in full flower than those of smaller size. They are obtainable in galvanised wire, plastic-coated wire or polythene, and there are some designs which have the added advantage of a built-in tray underneath to catch the drips after watering.

Preparing A Basket

The time to prepare hanging baskets is in early spring. To keep the basket steady while it is being made up it is a good plan to stand it on a large flower pot. The basket should be lined thickly with moss to hold the potting compost in position. John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost is a suitable choice, and it should be added a little at a time as the moss lining is built up. Small plants, such as variegated nepeta and lobelias, can be pushed through the wires in the sides of the basket as the potting compost is added so that the whole basket is well clothed with foliage and flowers. When the basket has been completely lined with moss and the compost has been firmed with the fingers, the top of the basket can be planted. Ivy-leaved pelargoniums can be placed at an angle so that the new growth will hang over the sides of the basket.

To allow space for watering it is a good idea to leave a saucer-like depression in the surface of the compost, and also to build up the sides of the basket with extra moss and soil.

Baskets are intended to hang from a beam or other support so that the flowers can be enjoyed at eye level or above, but it may not always be possible to display them in this way. If necessary, they can be left standing on pots on the greenhouse staging – but this should be looked on as a second-best solution.

Aftercare

To encourage a compact, bushy habit the tips of fuchsias stems should be nipped out frequently. Premature flowers should also be removed for the same reason. The plants soon fill the baskets with roots and watering must be attended to carefully as the soil tends to dry out rapidly, particularly when the weather is hot and dry.

I am sure that many gardeners fail to get the best from basket-grown plants because they neglect to feed them at regular intervals. Liquid or soluble fertilisers can be given every seven to ten days in the summer and they will help the plants to go on flowering well into the autumn.

Propagation of Plants for Baskets

To have well-rooted specimens ready for planting in baskets in the spring, cuttings of fuchsias and Ivy-leaved pelargoniums should be taken in July and August, the rooted cuttings being overwintered in 3-in. pots.

Pendulous begonias are started into growth in the same way as the large-flowered tuberous begonias. Lobelias are best raised from seed each year.

01. March 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Greenhouse Gardening, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on How to Prepare a Hanging Basket

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