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.