Planting hanging baskets - part 1

It's about time to be thinking about hanging baskets, so here is a guide to making a basket that will look wonderful all summer long. It contains upright 1 geranium, 1 upright fuschia, 1 variegated ivy, 1 trailing verbena, 11 trailing lobelias, 1 trailing geranium, 1 trailing lysimachia and 1 trailing nepeta. All easy to find and fairly economical, for a show that will last for months.


You'll also need some compost, moss (you can buy bags of dried moss from nurseries and garden centres, but give it a good soak before using it. If you don't want to use moss, you can try wool fleece or coco fibre), three sheets of plastic about 10cm (4in) square (cut up an old compost bag for these), some water-retaining gel and some plant food granules. And, of course, a basket about 30cm (12in) diameter.


The basket in the photos was planted up by John Summerfield at Westshores Nursery in Winterton ( If you live nearby, you can buy one from them ready made up, or get the plants and do it yourself.


1. First, find something suitable to rest the pot on while you work. This one is sitting on a piece of old pipe, but a large plant pot or a bucket will do just as well.


Before starting, make sure that the hanging chain is outside the basket.

Pot to rest the basket on.

2. Start by putting in a layer of the soaked moss, then lay the first piece of plastic sheet over it. This will stop the water from running straight through the bottom of the basket and help direct it to the plant roots, where it's needed.


As the basket matures, the moss will turn green and will blend well with the foliage of the plants.

First layer of moss and plastic

3. Before adding any compost, mix in the water retaining gel. You'll need about the amount that would fill a 35mm film canister. The gel will swell up when it gets wet and will reduce the need for such frequent watering.


Add about the same amount of plant food granules.


Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed before carrying on.

water retaining gel

4. Next, add a layer of compost to the middle of the moss layer.

First layer of compost

5. Place the first layer of plants, in this case 6 trailing lobelias, by gently pushing them through the gaps in the basket wires.


Adding this bottom layer of plants will help to give the basket that ball-like-mass-of-flowers look when it gets going.

First layer of plants

6. Add another layer of moss around and over the root balls of the first layer of plants. This will help retain moisture and stop the compost falling out as well as looking nice.


Firm it gently round the lobelia plants and let some bits trail through the gaps in the wire.

Second layer of moss

Go to Hanging baskets part 2



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