How to Plant a Beautiful Hanging Basket for SpringColin Campbell-Preston
With the weather warming up and your spring bulbs peeping through, now is the perfect time to plant a beautiful spring hanging basket, bringing colour and cheer to your garden.
Buying the right plants
Because there is a risk of frost until April time, you’ll need to choose plants that are hardy enough to stand up to poor weather. At this time of year, the choice of annuals is a little sparse – so you may want to include some perennials for variety and extra dimension. Great choices for a spring hanging basket include:
Daisies: Daisies (Bellis perennis) can be planted any time from September. These will flower from February through until May so should give you a few months of bright cheery spring colour. Bellis perennis ‘Pomponette’ is a great choice for baskets. These prefer sun or partial shade and like moist but not wet soil.
Primulas: Primulas come in a wonderful variety of colours and flower from September right through until May. They can be planted any time from September and again, prefer to be in sun or partial shade with moist soil.
Pansies and violas: Pansies and violas are an easy choice that can be planted and will flower year round, provided that you remove the heads. Although most people treat these as an annual, you can cut them back after they have gone over – and provided that the soil is not too wet, they will return once the frost has gone. They thrive in sun or partial shade and prefer well drained moist soil.
Lily of the Valley: Lily of the Valley is a wonderful fragrant choice to add interest to your baskets. Its flowers are delicate and beautiful, and the plant prefers moist soil with partial or full shade. Fully hardy, you can plant them all year round.
Daffodils: Miniature daffodils such as Tete-a-Tete can make a great centrepiece for your basket – and are available ready to plant if you didn’t set bulbs in autumn. These prefer sun or partial shade and will flower through March and April.
Anemones: Anemones offer gorgeous bright flower heads that will tolerate full sun or partial shade. These work well in a basket on their own as they will thrive if the soil is allowed to dry between watering.
Wallflowers: Wallflowers are also an excellent choice, offering bold colours and beautiful scent – try Erysimum or Cheiranthus. They will flower from March to May and prefer full sun.
Finally, add some greenery to your basket with foliage such as ivy; this will add interest even when your other plants aren’t flowering.
Choosing a colour scheme
The best looking baskets use flowers with colour schemes that work well together – for example, whites and purples, yellows and purples, all pinks, or whites, purples and pinks.
Preparing the basket
If you are using a regular wire hanging basket, you’ll need to choose a lining. The easiest option is to buy a ready-made card liner or fibrous lining – although for a cheaper alternative, you can simply use moss from your lawn. If you choose the latter, aim for about a half inch thickness.
Once lined, the basket can be half-filled with compost. Multipurpose compost is fine for baskets that will be refreshed every year – but if you are planting a basket that will last longer, choose John Innes No 2. Add in water retaining granules to reduce the likelihood of your basket drying out during warmer weather.
Arranging your plants
The easiest way to create an arrangement is to start with a slightly larger plant for the centre (such as a dwarf conifer or miniature daffs). This will ensure your basket looks interesting even if the other smaller plants don’t flower during cold spells. Surround your centrepiece with smaller plants which might include trailing plants such as ivy to hide the wire basket.
Once you’ve inserted all of your plants, fill around them with more compost, pushing the soil down gently. To save having to remember to feed the baskets, you can insert some slow-release fertiliser plugs or pellets at this stage although remember that these have a limited lifespan.