Friday, 23 March 2007


With the threat of frosts gone, the annual hanging basket frenzy is well under way. With my basket liners arriving earlier in the week I have taken a break from the monotony of potting and the heavy work of my outside jobs to concentrate on the pleasurable and creative past-time of making up the hanging baskets. The tunnel is full of them and every time I walk past them (or walk into them –ouch) I have to resist the temptation to put more plants in the gaps. If I were to keep filling them then there would be no room for the plants already in there to grow. After saying that I still manage to sneak the odd extra Petunia in somewhere.

Planting up hanging baskets
What you need: Your basket, basket liner or moss, plants, slow release fertilizer granules (you can buy a box of Osmocote from the Co-op). Water with comfrey juice if you go down the organic route.

First rest the basket onto a bucket or pot for a good base when working. Make sure the plants have been well watered before starting too. Line the basket. I am using coco fibre liners this year, they have holes already in the sides which saves me having to use my brain to get the plants evenly spaced. If you are using moss, then line the basket to halfway up the sides. There are no fixed rules on plants to use, but you won’t go far wrong putting three or six plants (or clumps if you use Lobelia) through the side of the basket. Trailing plants also look effective. Then line the moss to the top of the basket and fill with compost. Add slow release fertilizer granules. There are also water-retaining crystals on the market that can help prevent the basket from drying out.

Plant a tall plant in the centre and lower growing plants around it .If using trailing plants on the top of the basket, put them 6cm (2in) from the edge. They will fill out nicely by the time they trail over the edge of the basket.

Once planted, water thoroughly, allow to soak, and then water again. Protect from strong sunlight for a few days and take them in if there is a frost. Deadhead regularly, water frequently (They will need watering even if the weather is cloudy and wet in summer) and liquid feed when the plants look as though they need perking up.

Tip- if the basket does dry out, no amount of watering will wet the inside of the soil. Take down the basket and place it in a large container full of water, leave it until it is just about to sink, then pull it out. This sounds drastic, but it will save the basket!

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