Cheery colour hanging high
Baskets of colour easy to do
If the ground is wet and soggy, or just plain cold, there’s an option to position your flowering plants much higher up. Hanging baskets are a great way to add colour to your winter garden with many colourful flowers available from your garden centre. Look in the potted colour section and you’ll find pansies, polyanthus and calendulas, among others.
Later on you’ll get anemones, ranunculus and Iceland poppies. Look for cinerarias too, and for something a little different, try something like a daphne or one of the winter heathers (Erica carnea).
I have grown clematis in large hanging baskets. You may not get as many blooms as you would if they were planted in the ground, but you do get a good smattering if they are positioned well.
Try the flamboyant clematis cirrhosa Freckles, a longblooming, hardy clematis with attractive glossy leaves year round. Its bell-shaped creamy blooms are heavily speckled on the inside and the petals start out raspberry red in colour then turn more purple-red as they mature. Freckles puts on a terrific show in the cooler months.
Lansdowne Gem is another cirrhosa clematis that flowers in winter with bell-shaped blooms that are creamy-pink on the outside and red on the inside. And the winter-flowering clematis cirrhosa Wisley Cream has creamy bell-shaped blooms.
There are compact clematis, such as the Boulevard clematis, that do very well in containers but they typically flower in the warmer months.
They are worth trying later on in the season but you’ll need to ensure they are watered well and the tops are mulched to keep the roots as cool as possible.
I have seen a laburnum in a hanging basket too. Its golden yellow pea-like flowers looked spectacular on dull days, like a shining beacon in an otherwise colourless garden.
Whichever plants you choose for your hanging baskets, use a good potting mix that contains slow-release fertiliser.
To keep your potted colour flowering continuously, deadhead regularly and feed occasionally with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
If you wish to plant on the side of your basket, choose a container with a lining that can easily be cut, so plants can simply be slotted in. A wicker hanging basket may be pretty, but it’s impossible to cut through the sides.
While sphagnum moss is ideal for summer plantings as it holds a good deal of moisture, a coconut fibre lining is adequate for winter.
Winter baskets will not need watering as often as summer baskets, though keep an eye on moisture levels just the same. In windy spots, moisture evaporates much quicker.
Hard winds will also batter your flowers, so keep your baskets in a sheltered spot.
Heat reflecting off surfaces such as brick walls during winter is a good thing. During summer, on a scorching day, plants may simply wilt.
Hanging baskets positioned among deciduous trees is a nice touch and provides a little shelter. Or hang under the eaves of your house or on a porch or covered patio or deck.
Brighten up: A hanging basket makes for cheerful winter colour.