Hanging Baskets Introduction
Hanging baskets full of flowers or foliage plants give a color boost
to your house and garden. They can be used effectively even in a very
small space. If you choose plants carefully, you can change the
plantings to suit every season.
A lightweight potting mix is needed for your hanging basket. Soilless
planting mixes provide excellent drainage, aeration and water-holding
capacity that ordinary garden soil can not supply.
Be sure that your basket has drainage holes. Drainage is essential so
that the planting mix will not become water-logged. Do not place pebbles
or other material at the bottom of the container. They will not provide
Plastic or wire baskets are available. Both have advantages and
disadvantages. Plastic is inexpensive, easy to plant and is slower to
dry out. Wire baskets allow more choices in size and planting
arrangements. Many people find them more attractive
Liners are used in wire hanging baskets to hold the soil and plants in
position. Liners can be made of dried preformed sphagnum moss or coconut
fiber known as coir.
Choose small, healthy young plants for planting. They will adapt to new
surroundings much faster than older plants.
Plant much closer in a hanging basket than you would in a flowerbed.
Include plants with a variety of colors, shapes and textures. Trailing
plants should be planted at the edges and bushy or upright plants will
go at the center or back. Be sure that the taller plants do not
interfere with hanging the basket.
Site selection is as important for hanging baskets as it is for any
other plant. Remember that most of the time the hanging basket will be
viewed from below. Hang the basket so that it will be close to eye level
so that it can be admired and watered easily
Plants for Hanging Baskets
Use your imagination in selecting plants. Many types of plants will grow
in hanging baskets including annuals, vines, tropical plants, herbs and
even some vegetables. For hanging salads, grow leaf lettuce, parsley and
miniature tomatoes. Herbs thrive in containers and require little care.
Thyme, oregano and rosemary are good for containers because they like
the soil to dry out between waterings. Many plants normally grown as
houseplants will be great for foliage in outdoor containers also.
Caring for Hanging Baskets
Hanging Baskets can dry out very quickly. Daily or even twice-daily
watering may be necessary. Feel the soil to determine whether or not it
is damp. If the potting mix feels dry 1 inch below the surface, it is
time to water. Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes. If the
pot dries out too much you should immerse it in water to resoak the soil
mix. Containers will need frequent checking as the plants grow and
temperatures become hotter.
Watering wands are good tools for difficult-to-reach baskets and window
boxes. They extend your reach and produce a gentle shower.
Frequent watering flushes nutrients from the soil quickly, so frequent
fertilizing is also necessary. Liquid fertilizers or timed-release
fertilizers are the easiest methods of application. Time-release
fertilizer pellets can be mixed into the soil at planting or worked into
the top inch later. The soil in the container should be moist when
fertilizer is applied, even liquid fertilizer. Feed baskets and boxes
every two weeks from spring through summer with a complete liquid
fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
Remove flowers as they fade to keep flowering baskets blooming well.
Many plants are rejuvenated by a trim in late summer.
Basket & Window Box Plants for Sun
Botanical Name Height & Width Ornamental Features Bloom Season Comment
(Brassica oleracea) 1 foot tall and wide Green and white, pink, red or
purple foliage. Foliage color in winter Plant in fall for color after
(Capsicum annuum) 1 to 2˝ feet tall and wide Fruit range in color from
yellow to orange or red and purple to near black. Midsummer to frost The
fruit of ornamental peppers are edible but extremely hot.
(Catharanthus roseus) 6 to 24 inches tall White, pink, rose, lavender,
purple, red or salmon. Early summer to frost Very heat and drought
(Solenostemon scutellarioides) 1 to 3 feet tall and wide Colorful
foliage often with lobed or cut margins. Remove flowers for best foliage
Select sun-tolerant cultivars.
(Sanvitalia procumbens) 6 inches tall and at least 2 feet wide Tiny,
golden, daisy-like flowers. Summer to frost Not suited for coastal
climate. Great in hot, dry areas.
(Ipomoea quamoclit) Climbs or trails up to 10 feet. Tiny brilliant red
flowers above delicate fern-like foliage. Summer to frost Very tough
despite delicate appearance.
(Senecio cineraria) 6 to 12 inches tall and wide Soft, finely cut
whitish-silver leaves. Foliage color from spring until frost Excellent
(Erysimum or Cheiranthus species) 6 to 24 inches tall and wide Cream,
yellow, orange, purple and maroon. Spring to early summer Plant in the
fall for spring flowering.
(Tagetes patula) 6 to 18 inches tall and wide Yellow, gold, orange and
mahogany red. Late spring to frost Remove spent flowers for continued
(Gazania rigens) 6 to 12 inches tall and wide Daisy-like yellow, orange,
pink or red flowers. All summer Good choice for hot, dry locations.
(Pelargonium x hortorum) 12 to 36 inches tall and wide White to pink,
salmon or red flowers. Many cultivars have variegated leaves. All summer
Remove spent flowers for continued bloom.
(Heliotropum arborescens) 12 to 36 inches tall and wide Scented purple
or lavender blooms in clusters. All summer The species is more sweetly
scented and larger than modern cultivars.
(Pelargonium peltatum) 1 foot tall by 3 to 4 feet wide Colors range from
white to pink, salmon and red.
Branches trail like vines. All summer Best with some afternoon shade.
(Lathyrus odoratus) Vines up to 6 feet, bush types 1 to 2 feet tall
Fragrant, colorful flowers. Bush types are suitable for window boxes.
Spring Sweet Peas grow best under cool conditions. Plant in late winter
for early spring bloom. Plant at Christmas on the coast.
(Helichrysum petiolare) 6 to 12 inches tall, 3 to 4 feet wide Trailing
plant with fuzzy round leaves that are silver gray, variegated or lime
green. Foliage color all summer Used as contrasting foliage. Very
tolerant of hot, dry weather.
(Lobularia maritima) 4 to 8 inches tall by 1 foot wide Honey-scented
flowers are white, pink, rose or purple. Late spring until frost Alyssum
may decline in midsummer. Shear, feed and water to rejuvenate.
(Lotus berthelotii) 6 to 8 inches tall by 3 to 4 feet wide Feathery
foliage on gray trailing vines followed by bright red flowers Late
summer Likes hot, dry weather.
(Petunia hybrida) 4 to 12 inches tall by 24 to 48 inches wide Virtually
all colors are available. All summer Require ample moisture and
fertility to thrive. Trailing cultivars are excellent in baskets.
(Portulaca grandiflora) 6 to 9 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide Wide
variety of colors in single and double flowers. All summer until frost
Thrives in hot, dry locations. New hybrid types stay open longer.
(Scaveola aemula) 6 inches tall by 4 feet wide Blue or white flowers on
long trailing branches. Prolific from spring until frost Very heat and
(Lantana montevidensis) 6 to 12 inches tall by 3 to 4 feet wide Lavender
or white flowers on trailing stems. All summer Tolerates hot, dry windy
(Vinca major ‘Variegata’) 6 inches tall by 3 to 4 feet wide White-edged
or lime-centered green leaves on trailing stems. Blue flowers, spring;
grown for foliage Excellent foliage contrast.
(Verbena x hybrida) 6 to 12 inches tall, 12 to 24 inches wide Red,
purple, pink and white flowers on bushy or spreading plants. Mid spring
until frost Thrives in hot weather.
Basket & Window Box Plants for Part Shade or Shade
Common Name Height & Width Ornamental Features Bloom Season Comment
(Viola x wittrockiana) 6 to 8 inches tall and wide Available in nearly
all colors of the rainbow. Fall through spring Plant in the fall. Blooms
through winter. Peak bloom in spring.
(Impatiens wallerana) 6 to 36 inches tall and wide Almost all colors
except blue are available. Continuous flowering from spring until fall
Keep constantly moist.
(Oxalis purpurea) 10 inches tall and wide Large purple leaves and white
or pink flowers. Spring Grown for its foliage.
(Begonia x tuberhybrida) 12 to 18 inches tall and wide Large flowers in
red, pink, orange, yellow, white and in bicolors. Spring through summer
Lift tubers in fall and store; replant in spring.
(Caladium x hortulanum) 12 to 30 inches tall and wide Arrow-shaped
leaves patterned in red, pink, white and green. Grown for colorful
summer foliage Keep evenly moist, fertilize frequently.
(Solenostemon scutellarioides) 1 to 3 feet tall and wide Leaf color
mixtures include magenta, red, copper, orange, yellow, chartreuse and
green. Pinch off flower spikes Most cultivars grow best in shade or part
Polka Dot Plant
(Hypoestes phyllostachya) 12 to 18 inches tall and wide Pink or white
speckles on green leaves. Grown for summer foliage Beautiful foliage
with white or pink flowers. Very tough.
(Fuchsia cultivars) 2 to 3 foot wide trailing Drooping tear-shaped buds
open to flouncy interiors Flowers in red, pink, purple, coral, white and
combinations. Spring through summer Keep evenly moist. Flowering will
slow in heat.