Hang­ing bas­kets do need nur­tur­ing


Aturn into a cov­ered porch re­cently re­vealed stun­ning hang­ing bas­kets, filled with the hum­ble but cheery nas­tur­tiums.

These plants are one of the eas­i­est to grow and give a sat­is­fy­ing re­sult of ram­pant growth mixed with sum­mery flow­ers in unashamed shades of orange, red and yel­low. Even the leaves seem friendly with their softly rounded shape.

Flow­ery hang­ing bas­kets are de­signed to bring a smile and el­e­ment of sur­prise. They lift up our gaze and give new per­spec­tive to plants we usu­ally view from above, but they do re­quire spe­cial at­ten­tion to be a suc­cess and this is why gar­den­ers some­times strug­gle with these airy en­vi­ron­ments.

Lack of water is prob­a­bly the big­gest killer of plants in hang­ing bas­kets. With a small amount of pot­ting mix sur­rounded by dry­ing air, they need con­stant re­fresh­ing with mois­ture other­wise the plants will col­lapse and die very quickly.

For­tu­nately there are many prod­ucts on the mar­ket to help keep mois­ture in the pot­ting medium it­self and wa­ter­ing sys­tems do make the job eas­ier to keep on top of. Reg­u­lar amounts of fer­tiliser is also vi­tal for plants to main­tain lush growth.

When fill­ing the bas­ket with pot­ting mix, firstly en­sure you buy suit­able mix for hang­ing bas­kets or add a mois­ture ad­di­tive to or­di­nary pot­ting mix as well as a slowre­lease fer­tiliser.

If your bas­ket is go­ing to have plants grow­ing from the top only, then fill with mix un­til two or three cen­time­tres be­low the sur­face to en­able space for water to pool be­fore soak­ing in, rather than hav­ing it run off an over-filled pot.

If you have a bas­ket with holes or slits in the sides for plant­ing, then fill the bot­tom up to the first gap, gen­tly plant the side holes and con­tinue to cover the roots with pot­ting mix for your sur­face plant­ings.

Af­ter firm­ing your plants in, give the whole lot a good soak­ing and hang where it will re­ceive plenty of light and be ap­pre­ci­ated.

A bas­ket planted well now, will get at least some growth in be­fore Christ­mas to make a thought­ful gift. This way of grow­ing is nu­tri­ent and labour in­ten­sive, but the re­sults are beau­ti­ful. A gar­den at dif­fer­ent lev­els looks fun.

The con­tainer you use can be fun too and once you de­velop an eye for what can be used, you will find pos­si­bil­i­ties ev­ery­where. Even a halved co­conut shell could be planted.

Once you have your bas­ket lined, filled and planted, it may be very heavy so will need an ex­tra strong sys­tem to at­tach it from a ceil­ing, branch or if flat-backed, a wall.

Many plants are suit­able for bas­kets, es­pe­cially trail­ing va­ri­eties and an­nu­als or peren­ni­als do well. Daisies are gen­er­ous with their blooms and gen­er­ally tol­er­ate drier con­di­tions bet­ter than some. Ferns are suit­able for a cooler part of the gar­den or porch.

You might thickly plant one type of plant for an even look or a mix­ture of plants ei­ther colour co­or­di­nated or of a ‘‘nov­elty’’ se­lec­tion. You might grow herbs in one, us­ing pros­trate rose­mary, pars­ley, thyme and basil va­ri­eties.

If you have a green colour dom­i­nat­ing, add a red gera­nium for a stun­ning con­trast. Ivy, petu­nias and fuch­sias have long been favourites for bas­kets.

Straw­ber­ries, cul­ti­vated or wild are an­other favourite for con­tainer grow­ing and with their trail­ing habit and bright red berries are par­tic­u­larly suit­able for hang­ing bas­kets. Try other veg­eta­bles, such as toma­toes, dwarf peas or run­ner beans too.

If tak­ing care of a hang­ing bas­ket is not your thing, then plant suc­cu­lents, these will cope with ne­glect well (as long as they get water some­times) and can look very at­trac­tive where a coastal or spare look suits.

Eye candy: Easy to grow nas­tur­tiums and neme­sias brighten up this pa­tio.

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