Planting a Hanging Basket
by Rob Sproule
Hanging baskets are one of summer’s most colourful delights! They’re fun to make and add an easy blast of colour to the yard.
A lot of people get scared off planting their own because they’re unsure of how it will look. Colours are universal, and if they look good to you they’re going to look good to other people. For foolproof colour combos, print off a colour wheel.
Planning your Basket
While modern container gardening trends emphasize blending foliage and edibles into with your annuals, hanging baskets are and always will be about flower power!
If you’re unsure about how to best match colours together, print off a colour wheel (an easy Google search will do the trick). Print it off and let it be your guide to create the ‘wow’ factor you’re looking for.
If your colours are near to each other on the colour wheel (like blue and purple), you’re giving your basket an analogous (harmonious) colour scheme. Harmonious blends sooth the eye; they remind us of nature and cool coloured harmonies (blues and silvers) can be very relaxing on the patio.
For an adventurous twist, plant colours that are opposite each other on the wheel. Complementary (contrasting) colour schemes excite the eye and create playful tension. Contrasts like yellow and purple can overwhelm in large doses, but used sparingly they will really make your basket ‘pop’. Keep in mind that, because it contrasts with green, red creates excitement no matter what you plant it with.
When you’re at the Garden Centre, try arranging the plants that catch your eye on your cart, as you would in the basket. Beware not to go for the one with the most flowers; healthy, well-branched plants will produce more colour over the season than a spindly one that starts off blooming.
Planting your Basket
Select a basket that will be large enough for your plants to grow into, but not one so large that they become water-logged in soil that won’t dry out. I usually suggest 1 basket stuffer per 2-3″of the pot’s diameter, so a 12″ round pot would have 4-6 plants.
Choose a well-draining medium to plant in. Avoid black dirt, which turns to mud at the first sign of water. Lots of big fibers and perlite makes a porous pocket for fine, fibrous roots to expand into for the plant to grow rapidly.
Fill your basket with to a few inches below the rim. Before committing (planting), arrange your pots in the soil in the pattern you’ll plant in to make sure you love the look.
Planting is the best part, so dig in! Tip each plant upside down and gently squeeze the pot to remove them. This ensures you won’t damage delicate roots in removing them (never just yank the plant out). Leave an inch or two of space below the rim for water to pool, otherwise, you’ll be watering non-stop in the summer.
Flowering baskets are among the easiest kinds of container gardens to grow. Give them lots of sun and generous amounts of fertilizer and they’ll bloom all summer.
If you notice them starting to get spindly, don’t be afraid to give them a haircut. The most popular basket stuffers, like trailing petunia, bacopa, and calibrachoa (“million bells”), all bounce back from pinching with more vigour.
Hanging baskets are ideal for small spaces, like patios. You can literally sit under them in the evening and enjoy your wine! They also create intimacy by enclosing whatever space they’re surrounding, so hang them around the outdoor areas where you like to unwind.