If you’ve ever taken a vacation in a Disney park, or visited a summer resort, or walked down main street of the most charming small towns in America… you’ve probably been awed by some pretty amazing hanging basket planters. And let’s face it – you tried to reproduce said baskets, and failed miserably, right? We. Have. Been There. But then we learned these 5 success secrets for hanging baskets that make the pros “in the know”, and can make you the envy of your block. Yep, you really can have those lush, full, awe inspiring hanging baskets in your own garden with these tips and tricks! Photo by ‘State by State Gardening‘.
Secrets and Steps to Planting Hanging Baskets
The first thing that you have to remember is that if you want those professional looking, lush hanging baskets, all of these secrets are equally important and work together. If one part of the “system” fails, chances are good that none of the other secrets are gonna save you. But no worries, none of these are tough, fellow gardeners! Photo of this shade hanging basket of asparagus fern, ivy and coral bells by ‘Gardeners Supply‘.
Secret #1 – Choose your container.
This is a lot more important than just style choice. If you want simple cascading pots, choose regular hanging pots. If you want those amazing living flower globes that hang from the streets in those awe inspiring European hamlets, then you want a container that is either wire with a fiber liner, or a pot with holes throughout its body made specifically for this purpose. This allows you to place plants all through the sides and bottom of the container, which gives that full living globe look. This photo from ‘Fine Gardening‘ shows how to cut holes in the fiber liner and place plants all around the container. There are also several commercial planter systems for growing full “flower globes”, such as the Flower Pouch.
Learn how to make a succulent sphere for a really unique hanging basket from YouTube channel ‘Garden Answer’.
Secret #2 – Choose Your Soil
Using a high quality potting mix is vital to successful hanging baskets. Choose a lightweight mix that commercial growers in your area recommend, and then add water holding polymer crystals available in any garden center. (Many potting soils come with them already in the mix.) Do NOT buy generic or budget potting soil. One of our favorite soils is called ‘Black Magic’.
Secret #3 – Feed and Water Them Well
Hanging baskets get watered so often, they tend to leach all the nutrients out of the soil much faster than regular containers. Add a slow release granular fertilizer to the potting mix when you plant, then use a liquid fertilizer at half strength once a week, such as Miracle Grow for Flowers. Use both, your plants will thank you with lush growth and many blooms! The town of Victoria on Vancouver Island, B.C. is famous for their hanging baskets, below. They water their baskets every night, and include the liquid fertilizer at every feeding. Photo courtesy ‘Vancouver Island Now‘.
Hanging baskets require a lot more water than even other container plants, especially the ones with fiber liners. Do NOT let your planters dry out. Once you do, the root systems will be damaged, and while you may be able to bring them back, they will never reach their full potential. Once you get used to how heavy your planters are when fully watered, you can just lift up on the bottom and tell if they are getting light, then they are getting dry. They like to be evenly moist. Consider taking them down weekly to do a full and deep soaking, allow to drain, then rehang. In the most intense heat of the summer, some baskets may need water as often as twice a day.
Secret #4 – Choose Plants for the Spot
Just like when planting in your garden, you have to choose the right plants for the right spot. Not only do you need to pay attention to whether your basket will hang in sun or shade, also note if it will be subject to drying winds, heavy rains, or excessive heat. Then choose trailing plants for the sides and bottom of the container, and more upright varieties for the middle of the container. Lastly, decide on type and variety. Do you want a single color and type to make a mass statement? Or do you want 3-5 different varieties with different textures, colors and bloom shapes for more close up interest? Bolder colors will draw the eye more from the street, while more subdued choices allow the basket to add to the gardenscape, instead of becoming a focal point. All these choices should be made before you buy the very first plant! Some good plant choices for hanging baskets are below.
Photo is example of a single color basket using Supertunia “Raspberry Blast” courtesy of ‘Proven Winners’.
Petunias, especially the newer supertunias and Wave type
Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare, especially ‘Limelight’)
Sweet potato vine, especially ‘Marguerite’
Photo of “Snow Princess” Alyssum courtesy of ‘Proven Winners’.
Photo courtesy of ‘Proven Winners‘.
Photo by ‘Power Flowers‘. These are “Wave Pansies” which are made for trailing.
Secret #5 – Pack ‘Em In!
Our last little trick from the pros is pretty important… You have to pack the plants in to these containers to get the full and lush look you want. Hanging baskets have a short amount of time to get to their full intended size, so you may need more plants than you usually would use. This is also why these baskets need more water and fertilizer – there is a lot of root competition in there!
Start them as early in spring as you can, weather permitting, for the best result by mid summer. Photo of hanging basket courtesy of ‘Proven Winners‘ of their Superbells calibrachoa and 2 types of verbena.
So now you have the secrets to planting those ah-mazing hanging flower baskets for your home and garden. Don’t mess it up this time, ok? :)Image Credits: State by State Gardening, Gardeners Supply, Fine Gardening , Garden Answer, Vancouver Island Now, Proven Winners, Proven Winners, Power Flowers, Proven Winners