Spring Hanging Baskets
It’s that time when we can start thinking about adding some splashes of colour to the garden. Spring hanging baskets are often one of the first opportunities to get out and about and add some seasonal cheer after the dark months of winter.
Whilst beds and borders enable structure and bulk, and pots offer the depth for longer flowering varieties, hanging baskets give us the option to add early height and create moveable pockets of interest around the garden, until such time as everything else springs back to life and really gets going.
If you’ve already got hanging baskets, now is the time to give them a good clean and brush up and get them ready to receive the first of this year’s blooms. If you prefer traditional style baskets and have had some winter plants in them, then check your liners and consider replacing them if they don’t look like they will last the season. You’ll also want to check hooks and chains for rust or damage as a hanging basket, once in full bloom and carrying water can put strain on these and easily take advantage of any weaknesses.
DIY Hanging Basket Ideas
If you don’t already have baskets, or have decided to start this season afresh, then why not consider creating some DIY hanging baskets using bits and pieces from around the home, shed or garage. Here are some DIY hanging basket ideas for alternative methods of achieving the same impact as a traditional basket.
As part of our eco-resolutions for 2023, we considered the idea of reusing plastic drinks bottles in the garden and the larger (2 litre) varieties of these, with some simple alterations, make for ideal tiered planters. Fill the bottle with compost, cut (carefully) some access holes in the sides into which you can insert your plants, and add a chain or hook to the top. If you’re feeling incredibly crafty then why not consider a rope net to create a macramé style holder?
Using fizzy drink bottles or even milk bottles not only make for a tall, elegantly shaped hanging basket but one which is incredibly good at keeping roots warm and retaining water. The added bonus is you can see how dry the soil is, avoiding over/under watering.
Hessian sacks and sandbags also provide a quirky alternative to the traditional basket design and are perfect for large walls or fences where you don’t necessarily have brackets or you want to create more of a living wall concept. Equally good for achieving the same look are pots hooked over rails – again easily made using wire, pots from around the garden, and old curtain poles or broom handles. These give you the option to create both horizontal and vertical displays and allow you to shuffle your pots around during the season to shake things up a little, plug any gaps or move plants in and out of the sun/shade.
If you are looking for some inspiration for summer hanging baskets, take a look at our other handy summer hanging basket post.
Plants to use
If you try and keep your baskets going all year, then don’t immediately throw away things like winter pansies as these can often put on an extra burst of colour and life with some fresh compost, sunlight and the slightly warmer days. If you’re starting from scratch you can go down the route of traditional favourites such as Begonias, Fuchsias, Petunias, trailing Lobelia, Geraniums, Osteospermum and Nasturtiums. Mixed together and well stocked into a basket, these will provide an amazing array of colour, shapes and sizes.
But if you’re looking to do something a bit different you could consider introducing a few more plants that you may be more used to seeing in pots or beds. Buying smaller potted versions of cordyline, box, heather or fir/spruce introduces some different textures and colours to the basket. At the end of the season, these can be transplanted into pots, beds and borders to grow on. Heathers are particularly good for spring baskets as they are naturally more hardy.
Other ideas may be to create scented baskets using plants with similar or complementary smells, like lemon (verbena, thyme, lemon scented spruce) or chocolate. If you’d prefer big concentrations of colour then an increasingly popular option is for baskets of single colour, either with all baskets matching a single theme or each pot taking on a different colour. This method can highlight and enhance the natural, yet slightly more subtle colour of shrubs and perennials in surrounding beds and borders.
Hanging Basket Plant Ideas
Hanging baskets don’t just have to carry traditional seasonal plants. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of alternative hanging basket plant ideas. They can provide perfect conditions for lots of other varieties which will make for an interesting twist as well as keeping foliage and colour.
If you’re a fruit and veg grower and your veg beds are already full to overflowing, then put your baskets to work. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries do extremely well in hanging baskets, with tresses tumbling over the sides creating structure, shape and colour; as well as a sweet treat whilst you’re wandering the garden!
Certain herbs also enjoy baskets and a gentle breeze passing by a hanging basket stocked with sweet smelling herbs can be a delightful fragrance during those first few days on the patio. Baskets of herbs located close to the back door or kitchen window are also great for nipping and snipping a few fresh sprigs when cooking.
If you fancy giving herbs a try, avoid deep rooting and bushy plants such as rosemary or mint and stick to smaller plants such as basil, oregano, thyme. These three combined provide decorative structure with the height and vibrant green of the basil in the centre whilst the runners from the thyme and oregano interweave and tumble over the edge of the basket. Pop in some cherry tomatoes – which are companion plants for basil and flavour buddies for oregano - and you’ve got a basket full of pizza toppings or bruschetta!