Annuals Award-Winning Plants Container gardens

Six Tips for Creating Successful Hanging Baskets

Here’s an article full of easy tips on creating your own hanging baskets for the summer from the fine people at All-America Selections

Article by Mark Dwyer of Landscape Prescriptions by MD

Baskets allow AAS winning annual flowers to “show their stuff” by putting them at eye-level or higher in containers suspended from above. Colorful baskets not only add beauty, but they can also provide scale and softness to taller structures. Baskets also provide welcome plants in areas where there may not be traditional planting space available such as over decks, patios, paths and in-ground plantings.

Success with hanging baskets certainly includes using appropriate plants but the selection, preparation and care of these baskets are equally vital for success! Here are six great tips on creating your own stunning hanging baskets.

12 All-America Selections for Hanging Baskets

Begonia Viking XL™ Red on Chocolate
With a remarkable combination of red flowers above glossy dark foliage, this plant will become a significant asset in the basket
Cuphea FloriGlory® Diana
This Mexican heather selection loves full sun and the heat. A profusion of magenta blooms makes this a spectacular filler in any basket.

1. Consider the size and material of the basket.

Size and material are two very important features that will affect soil volume and the number of plants that will fit into the basket. The width and depth of the container also factor into how much planting space will be available. Those factors will then impact the finished weight of the basket. Proper anchoring is important for baskets due to their weight, the potential for wind damage and overall safety.

Gypsophila Gypsy White Improved
This showy plant will offer semi-double white blooms from early summer all the way until hard frost resulting in a fluffy white mound of beauty.
Impatiens Bounce™ Pink Flame
This floriferous annual will thrive in darker locations and offer superior flower coverage. 

2. Trailing, mounding, spreading and upright plants can all be added.

When selecting plants for a basket combination, you can use more than just trailing plants that cascade over the edges. Mounding, spreading and upright plants may have applications in larger baskets. However, you don’t want anything too tall that will exceed the “anchoring point” for the basket hook as that’s where wind and physical damage can occur. The amount of sunlight reaching the basket will impact your plant choices.

Osteospermum Akila® Daisy White
Covered with showy white daisies, this mounded, compact form can offer significant color in the basket.
Petunia Wave® Carmine Velour
Consider a larger container for this vigorous selection which will fill out and trail.

3. Achieve a fuller look by using baskets that let you plant along the sides and bottom.

While the majority of hanging baskets are planted traditionally with cascading plants just in the top, some modified baskets allow plants to be installed along the sides and bottom. This gives a very full, spherical look that obscures the container.

Petunia Evening Scentsation
This selection offers a very unique color of indigo blue and wonderful, hyacinth-like fragrance. Baskets that include this selection should be positioned for the gardener to enjoy the beauty AND scent!
Pelargonium Calliope® Medium Dark Red
The mounded and semi-spreading habit of this geranium is accented with deep red flowers in profusion. Position where spent blooms can be removed (deadheading) easily to encourage constant flowering and extended color! 

4. Don’t overplant the container.

Take into account the mature sizes of the installed plants and minimize the risk of overcrowding by not “shoehorning” in too many plants. Pruning or removing plants that are taking over or struggling is acceptable. Remember the old adage of “right plant, right place” when making your selections.

Pelargonium ‘Brocade Cherry Night’ 
This is a very “basket suitable” geranium with gorgeous bronze foliage with a thin green margin. Colorful cherry pink, semi-double blooms should be removed (deadheading) as they fade to encourage constant flowering.
Tropaeolum ‘Baby Rose’
The compact and mounded form of this nasturtium lends to be placed at basket edges and edible hanging basket combinations due to the spicy, edible leaves and tasty bright rose blooms!

5. Hanging baskets get hungry too!

Hanging baskets are needier when it comes to fertilizer because of the smaller volume of soil. Incorporate slow-release fertilizer into the soil in advance of planting. Also, schedule half-strength all-purpose liquid fertilizer applications every two weeks over the basket’s lifespan.

Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor
Needing full sun and loving the heat, this tough verbena will be smothered with blooms all summer long. These blooms look best in large baskets.
Zinnia ‘Profusion Red’
This series of zinnias is known for compact form and constant blooming making this specific winner a great selection for a basket combination that focuses on a pop of color for a long period of time! Pollinators will enjoy this plant as well.

6. Maintain uniform moisture throughout the season.

Maintaining uniform moisture in the container will likely require more watering during warmer months. Moisture retention products, when properly measured, prepared and incorporated into the planting soil, will help with potential moisture deficiencies. Read package labels on how to use these materials. Also, add additional drainage holes to prevent over saturation of your plants.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Six Tips for Creating Successful Hanging Baskets

  1. I could do without hanging plants, but grew a few outside windows that were over pavement into which nothing could be planted. They also worked well to protect just a few herbs that were damaged by snails in the garden. There is not major problem with snails here, but I must still grow catnip in a hanging pot because bobcats thrash it if they can reach it. It is a big pot, and I really would like to plant it in the ground.

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