These ideas for hanging baskets focus on one or two varieties of plant in each basket and are intended to give you some options for hanging basket plants that you might not have thought of.
If you are bored of using the same old plants in your hanging baskets, why not alter your planting this year. Rather thank thinking you must fill your baskets with ivy, one fuchsias, and lobelia why not consider using some plants that are not usually considered ‘hanging basket material’?
Floral Clematis Balls
You can wire together two hanging baskets to get garden balls for your flowers.
Hanging Basket Ball
One of the most effective of these I have seen was a clematis ball hung from a tree. So I thought I would share an idea stolen form another gardener, on the understanding that all gardeners like to share their knowledge.
Buy two clematis plants of the same species and plant one in each of the two hanging baskets. Make sure the stem of each is coming out below the brim of the basket, and fill with compost to the top of each basket.
Use a fairly compact variety such as "Arabella", "Rhapsody" or forsteri clematis "Joe".
Before you hang them up stand the planted baskets on weighted buckets, or clay pots, to get established for a couple of weeks. When the stems start to grow place one basket on top of the other to form a ball and wire it together with garden wire. Fit one set of hanging chains and hang the garden ball from your bracket.
As the plants grow, tie them in to the sides of the basket and you will soon have a ball of blooms.
You can try this with other trailing or climbing plants, such as honeysuckle, or even annuals like Ipomoea (Morning Glory).
You can also plant the balls with any dense compact flowers or those with a trailing habit, from Bussie Lizzies to Pansies, Million Bells to Fuchsias. Plant them densely and make a hole in the top of your liner to allow you to water the plants.
TIP: You can cut off the top third of a plastic bottle and insert it into the top hanging basket (see image below) before filling with compost. That way when you wire the top basket upside down on the bottom basket the cut-off bottle acts like a funnel, directing water right into the middle of the ball.
Hanging Basket with Water Funnel
Single rose variety
With roses coming in all shapes and sizes there is no reason at all why you cannot grow a rose in a hanging basket, if you choose the right variety.
Use a ground cover rose such as "Newly Wed" or "RosaKent (Poulcov)" which grow to approx 60 cm high by about 90 cm, which will tumble attractively over the edges of the basket. Both varieties have a mass of white blooms and are repeat flowering, and Kent has the added value of being fragrant.
White Rose in Hanging Basket
If you like a pink rose you could try the compact and bushy floribunda rose RosaSexy Rexy ("Macrexy") which only grows about 60cm by 60cm and may last slightly longer in a hanging basket that the ground cover roses.
Make sure you fertilise them well through the growing season. Dead head regularly and then prune back in autumn to maintain a compact bush.
Remove from the bracket once flowering is over and place in a sheltered part of the garden on top of a weighted bucket or plant pot to prevent it being damaged by wind and to allow the soil to drain. Top dress with fertiliser each Spring and you should find that the plant flowers happily for 3 or 4 years, after which time it can be planted out in the garden.
Ferns and foliage
For a shady area out of the wind you could bring together a selection of different ferns to add texture and subtle colour variations, rather than go for garish colours.
Foliage baskets can look very effective and stylish. Make sure you plant them densely and remember to keep well watered, as they will not tolerate drying out.
You could add some summer flowering bulbs such as miniature gladioli, or for spring interest Anenome Blanda. For an exotic flavour, Lady’s Slipper Orchid peeping through the foliage would look very stylish, flowering in May-June it is also winter hardy down to -20 degrees Celsius.
Ladies Slipper Orchid
Fill a small basket with Alpine Strawberry plants and you will have cascades of small white flowers followed by tiny red edible berries.
They are hardy plants too so you can place them out in the garden to over winter and bring them back out when they start to grow in the Spring - ready to enjoy their flowers and fruit for another year.
Alpine Strawberries in Container
Yes well we said we would try to give you some different ideas for hanging baskets! Cucumbers normally trail along the ground but there is no reason not to grow them in hanging baskets. Chose outdoor varieties such as "Marketmore" or "Tokyo Slicer". You will need to plant them in a big basket and keep them really well watered as they need a lot of watering in the summer.
You could try making a hanging basket ball planting cucumber plants in the bottom and marigolds in the top, which will have the added benefit of repelling Whitefly.
We all know Geraniums can cope with the occasional dry spell but if you are looking for something different to grow in hot sun with a dash of the occasional neglect why not try the South African Livingstone Daises or Mesembryanthemum. They have a dizzying colour palette and varieties such as "Magic Carpet Mixed" will give you a superb display for very little effort.
You can also make an effective garden ball with sedums and other succulents, play around with single varieties such as Sempervivum tectorum or mixing many different types together to get a mixture of colours and heights.
TIP: You can use succulents to create a living wreath, by planting succulents in a florists wreath or making your own by wiring willow around moss filled with potting compost.
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards