You’ve mulched the pots and beds, got the fruit and veg sorted, scarified, aerated and fed the lawn and brought the plants out from overwintering in greenhouses and cold frames. So there’s only one thing to do – the Summer hanging baskets!
Maybe it's just us, but the summer baskets feel like the cherry on top of the garden prep. There’s no heavy digging to do, no structural work (save for the odd bracket here and there) – it's just about adding some eye-catching colour and creating little pockets of interest at different heights.
Hanging baskets are also one of the more immediate changes in the garden. You select the plants, pop them in and hang the basket – job done! There’s no waiting around for germination or seasons and what you plant is what you get. And with a bit of care, attention, dead heading and feeding through the summer, they’ll only get better.
DIY summer hanging basket ideas
In our garden resolutions for 2023 and our Spring hanging basket ideas posts, we talked about getting better with recycling and reusing alternative products to create hanging baskets. Large drinks bottles, hessian sacks and sandbags can provide attractive and slightly quirky options for hanging baskets. These ideas reduce waste to landfill and can have some surprising side benefits around water retention and retained warmth for root systems. If you’ve not tried any of these with your Spring baskets then why not consider it this Summer?
In the Spring we also considered using rope or macramé nets to suspend alternative containers and recently we’ve seen some innovative ideas using this concept. Slightly bigger containers and pots can be slung in rope structures and provide a softer, more natural feel than chains and hooks. Trugs, buckets, old watering cans, colanders, boat buoys, hessian shopping bags and even old wicker shopping baskets can be quickly repurposed, adding different shapes and a bit of fun around the garden.
If you buy your milk from supermarkets and regularly purchase 4 pint bottles, try saving some up to make a really interesting display. Turn the bottles upside down, so the cap is at the bottom and the handle is facing you. Then cut the front face out, from around halfway up, to the top, effectively creating a scoop with a handle. Attach the upturned scoop to a wall or trellis with screws through the thickest part of the plastic or using cable ties, to create an array. Fill the bottom half (cap and handle end) with compost and plant out. The ‘V’ shaped bottom allows water to stay inside the container but filter down to promote stronger, deeper roots. The bottles provide a very visual way of checking what needs watering and when. The plastic also helps to maintain heat around the roots.
Summer hanging basket plants to use
Baskets are usually used to fill space that is not occupied by other plants, but this means they are surrounded by differing shapes, colours and leaf structures. The basket can therefore mirror its surroundings or provide a contrast, in a different colour or maybe using a more delicate form of flowers. So, if you’ve got cordylines and palms nearby, try contrasting these with lobelia and more delicate annuals such as nemesia or impatiens (Busy Lizzies).
If you’re deliberately placing a basket into a vacant spot then either alter the height of the bracket or think about planting for both height and trail in a single basket to really fill the gap. Small ferns, heathers, fuchsia or mini conifers placed at the heart of the basket will provide height and form and can then be surrounded by more traditional fillers such as geraniums, begonia and petunias.
We’ve also shared some thoughts about the use of herbs in baskets to provide shape and scent and using rosemary at the heart, with some trailing thyme or oregano mixed around the edges, can offer a wonderful aroma in the early evening as the temperature begins to drop. If you’re looking for something a bit different, then why not consider popping a couple of sweet peas into the mix. They will climb the chains, ropes, bracket and the fence or wall and will equally trail happily; guaranteeing plenty of delicious scent and an abundance of flowers throughout the season.
Summer Hanging basket planting ideas
Of course, baskets allow you to add pockets of colour here and there around the garden, increasing height and providing complementary or contrasting splashes of colour above beds and borders. But like all planting in the garden, the real impact comes when you form banks of colour and form. So rather than always thinking of baskets as an add-on, why not make them the feature, especially if you have a large blank canvas provided by a wall or fence that needs a disguise.
If you’re limited for space, then some simple tricks will help increase the impact of your baskets. For taller, narrower spaces, cone-shaped baskets take up less width but provide a longer, thinner frame drawing the eye vertically. Square spaces can be filled using multi pocket (easy fill) hanging baskets that can accommodate up to two dozen plants through small openings producing a very strong bank of colour and texture. Another great idea is placing a garden mirror or self-adhesive mirrored surfaces on the wall/fence behind the baskets. As well as doubling the impact of each basket, it helps reflect warmth and light onto the shady side of the basket, avoiding the need for regular quarter turns or a weaker side developing.
We have lots of great products to help you with your summer hanging baskets. You'll find helpful hand tools in the tools page, as well as some potting compost which would be ideal for your summer hanging baskets. Order online for home delivery. Good luck with your hanging baskets and enjoy the summer!