The low down on the high up – hanging baskets!
Hanging baskets are a fail-safe way to bring bursts of colour to an otherwise dull wall, or a perfect way to incorporate flowers and greenery when you are pushed for space. With the help of a greenhouse, April is the best time to start planting a hanging basket so that it has reached full flower coverage by the summer months. If you won’t be able to use a greenhouse, it may be best to hold off a little while or cover your basket with horticultural fleece when there is a risk of frost.
How to plant a hanging basket
- Choose your basket; we have a large range of baskets in store, which range in shape, size, lining and price.
- Chose your plants (read ahead to get a feel for the right kind of plants), buy them and make sure that they are well watered before planting.
- Unhook the basket’s chain and line the basket. Lining is a personal preference; we have some amazing natural linings in store made from recycled plant fibres, alternatively a thick layer of moss would also work. Make sure the lining fits the basket nicely and cut off any material above the rim of the basket.
- Place a saucer at the bottom of the basket after lining all over; this will help to retain moisture.
- Before filling the basket with compost, if you have chosen a solid lining make sure to slash some holes /slits appropriately around the basket in order to push the trailing plants through to cover the sides of the basket (if the basket is deep enough you may be able to fit two layers of these). Once you have done this you can half fill the basket with compost (until the compost is level with the first set of slits, we recommend using John Innes no 2 which can be purchased from both of our stores) or a moisture retaining compost like the one from Miracle Gro.
- Next plant the trailing plants. These should be planted from the inside outwards to protect the roots, settling them so that the root ball is laying on top of the compost and the foliage is outside of the basket. For the trailing plants we recommend you move around the basket alternating between foliage plants like helichrysums and trailing flowering plants like petunias.
- Once all of the slits have been filled, tease out the roots of the plants and add more compost to work around the roots, almost filling the basket. More trailing plants can be planted around the rim of the basket; maybe try geraniums or lobelias.
- Now that preparation for the sides of the basket is complete, you can move onto the centre. What you plant here is completely optional depending on the style and colours you are aiming for. Whichever flowers you chose, you should angle them outwards to create the effect of layering.
- Make sure any gaps left over are filled with compost.
- Water your basket thoroughly and stand it in your greenhouse to grow. Without a greenhouse either delay planting for a few more weeks, or protect from frost.
Basket and pot bedding plants are now available from our garden centre (Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, EX5 1AE).
Watering how-to for plants in containers
Even if we do get some rainfall, pot plants will still need to be watered separately to ensure successful growth- follow our watering how-to for best results. Following our ‘waterwise tips’ from June is crucial, however rather than showing you how to save water, this blog is about how to use it. Knowing the requirements of your plants is vital to their growth and is also ever-changing.
Here are our tips on how to assess the watering needs of your plants and respond to them accordingly;
- – Taking a glance can be misleading; be warned that whilst the top layer of compost in your container may look dry, this may not be the same all of the way through.
- – Lift them! A simple test on small pots is lifting them up; feeling very light is a clear indication that the need more water.
- – Inspect the roots. You can also lift the plant out of its pot to check that you have given it a thorough and even watering. This is simply a random check that will confirm that you have the right technique- we don’t recommend doing this to every plant every day!
- – Root deep! Push your finger right into the compost to get an accurate feeling of how moist the soil is; when you can feel even the slightest bit of moisture it means that there is enough for the plant.
- – Water the compost and the base of the plant. Watering anywhere other than here, such as onto the foliage or flowers is completely pointless because the plants’ roots never get to use this water.
- – How established is your plant? Older plants need a drenching once in a while so that the water can spread through the roots and compost. In contrast, young plants need a small amount of water and more often.
- – Stay away from pressure! High pressure from hoses can prevent the water from percolating into the compost sufficiently and can even misplace compost or damage the roots.
- – Know when you have overwatered. Overwatering starves roots of air and unfortunately the symptoms are similar to an under watered plant. These include wilt, aborted flowers and stunted growth.
Fixing your mistakes.
- – For under watered plants; these need to be watered slowly and more than once. Each time check the moisture. If the plant is hugely dry then the water will run straight through the pot without being absorbed. In this case the plant must be submerged in water until the compost is sufficiently moist and then be left in the shade.
- – For overwatered plants; stop watering these and move them to a shaded area. If its possible to do so then you should lift the plant out of its container. This will allow more water to evaporate. If you can see that a lot of roots have died, simply cut them off and if it is necessary replant the plant into a smaller plant. Also prune the foliage to redirect the plants energy and reduce any added stress.
We have a huge range of watering equipment in store. Including the 6.5L watering can which is now ONLY £3.00! The perfect size for watering pot plants without becoming too much of a strain on your arm.