This guide looks at the some of the best plants to use for hanging baskets and how some of the factors that will influence your choice depending on the seasons and conditions.
The first thing to say about choosing plants for hanging baskets is that there literally thousands of different choices and combinations! You need to consider the end effect you are looking to achieve in terms of colour, shape, size and location in choosing exactly the right plants.
Pansies provide vivid colour in a terrific number of shades – yellow, orange, purple, violet, red, white and nearly black – with distinctive faces in the center of the flower. Pansies can be used in summer and winter baskets.
Geraniums are a typically hardy plant which can grow in most soils and be used in the summer and winter. ‘Balcon’ geraniums are specifically used as trailing flowers for impressive displays.
Surfinia are typically used to create vibrant cascading effects and trailing styles. However, they grow quickly and can easily crowd other plants out and, as a result, are often used as the only plant type in the basket.
Lobelia is distinctive because it produces large numbers of flowers with typically smaller petals and offers an interesting alternative to pansies and surfinia.
Impatiens can provide bright, vibrant colours for hanging baskets and are used commonly in planters and borders as bedding plants. They are susceptible to dry soil however and require regular watering to ensure long life and health.
Begonia’s are long lasting and provide good growth which means they can be planted in spring and last well into autumn if cared for properly.
Nasturtiums are a colorful and distinctive plant with long, winding stems and flamboyant petals which are ideal for hanging baskets.
Ferns are ideal for adding texture and interest to a hanging basket. Try choosing hardier varieties that will be able to last throughout the summer and winter provided they are fed and watered regularly.
Variegated ivy is a real staple and can be used both in the summer and importantly in the winter. The ivy provides a pleasant multi-colored green base to the other plants and creates a nice trailing effect that is not possible with most flowering plants.
Hanging baskets can be used to grow all herbs varieties for a kitchen garden style. Sage, basil, tarragon, rosemary and parsley are ideal for this purpose and make a very pleasant and aromatic display.
Fruit such as strawberries can be grown in hanging baskets. Although the display is not impressive as a traditional basket the effect is novel and very suitable for town dwellers wanting to grow their own fruit but where space may be at a premium.
In summary, this guide gives you an idea of just some of the plants you can use for hanging baskets. There are options for the summer and winter and whether to concentrate on flower displays or perhaps to grow fruit or herbs for a kitchen garden. The only limit is your creativity!
John Nesbitt is an expert in the growing and care of hanging baskets, troughs, containers and planters having been in the gardening business for nearly 25 years.