Summer is finally here and all risk of frost is well and truly over even in the coldest reaches of the UK. Many are turning their thoughts to beautifying their polytunnels so they can enjoy floral displays as well as edible crops throughout the summer months ahead. Hanging baskets can be a great way to make the most of the smallest of polytunnels and can elevate the garden into three dimensions, helping to make the most of the space and produce beautiful and productive displays.
Choosing the Right Growing Medium for Hanging Baskets
Before you plant up your hanging baskets, make sure you have chosen (or created) a good quality compost. Growing plants in this way makes them very reliant on you to meet their nutritional and water requirements, so it is important that you give them as good a start as possible. The better quality the compost, the better it will be able to feed your plants and retain water for their use. Still, no matter how good your growing medium, it will usually be necessary to feed your hanging basket plants with a good organic feed later in the summer to keep displays looking their best.
Choosing Plants for Hanging Baskets
When choosing plants for your baskets it is of course important to consider how the displays will look. It is also important, however, to consider how large the plants will grow and how fast, how well they will do in the situation you will be placing them in and what their requirements will be throughout the season. In order to avoid over-planting, follow the rough rule of thumb that a basket can contain roughly the same number of plants as the number of inches in its diameter.
Remember that a hanging basket can be useful as well as beautiful. Consider placing some edible crops in hanging baskets, as well as floral arrangements. Some flowers are edible, and you can also use hanging baskets for traditional food crops such as tomatoes, peppers or strawberries, for example.
Water Hanging Baskets Well and Often
You cannot underestimate the importance of a good watering regime to beautiful hanging baskets. Baskets will have to be watered well and regularly and you should always pay particular attention to water needs during particularly hot and dry periods. Where possible, always use rainwater you have harvested from your polytunnel or home rather than tap water to water your hanging baskets.
Deadhead and Trim To Encourage More Blooms
If you keep up to your basket over the summer then you can really prolong the display. Remove spend flower heads and trim back straggly sections to make stronger plants that will give better blooms for longer. The same principle can apply to edible crops too – pinching back growing tips can make for healthier and bushier plants.
Check out our grow guides to get inspiration for the types of plants you could consider growing in your hanging baskets.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.