Want your garden to turn heads? Then decorate your walls with bright and lively summer blooms, says Adrienne Wild
Even with very little planting skill, it’s easy to make a memorable display if you plant up your hanging baskets with just a single species. For sophisticated good looks, choose different colourways of the same plant and be on trend by using cone-shaped rattan baskets, which look less municipal than the traditional wire, moss-lined baskets.
The deep, pointed shape of these modern baskets allows for a good root run, which is essential for the delightfully fragrant dwarf sweet pea ‘Cupid Mixed’. This unique variety is very free flowering and made up of shades of pinks and lilac, plus pink and white bicoloured blooms.
Other single plant ideas
Pick pendulous begonias such as ‘Fragrant Falls’ and the best-selling ‘Apricot Shades’, which has double blooms in sunshine shades of apricot and lemon.
For the freshest possible flavour, hang a basket of herbs close to the barbecue or kitchen door, so you can pick a few leaves as you cook. Use compact herbs, such as parsley, marjoram, thyme, summer savory and oregano.
Make walls even more productive by planting large, deep baskets with rocket, non-hearting lettuce and baby salad leaves plus dwarf peas such as ‘Bingo’ and ‘Little Marvel’ and the purple-podded ‘Shiraz’ and cascading cherry tomatoes.
Add a splash of vibrant nasturtiums, which have edible leaves and flowers.
Herb and veg suggestions
Chilli plants love a hot, dry spot and don’t mind a restricted root run. Try tumbling ‘Basket of Fire’.
Sun-loving and drought- tolerant, ‘Purple Rain’ petunias and the sugar-pink blooms of ivy-leaved pelargoniums are a spectacular combo for creating a summer garden with wow factor. They look best at eye level, when spilling over the edges and cascading from a hanging basket.
A general rule when planting is to use one plant per 3cm of basket diameter, but strong-growing plants like petunias and pelargoniums need more elbow room, so restrict the number to five plants per 30cm basket.
It’s also a good idea to keep a track of the weather forecast, so in really high winds baskets can be taken down and put temporarily in a sheltered position.
Bee-friendly petunias have enough blooms that even just one plant of the modern ‘Wave’, ‘Million Bells’ and ‘Surfinia’ types will pack a punch.
The biggest challenge when growing beautiful hanging baskets is keeping them from drying out. Succulent plants require next to no watering, even in hot, sunny situations and a top choice for the summer patio are echeverias.
These have fleshy leaves that are generally ice-blue, dove-grey or pale green, sometimes with coloured and ruffled edges, and are the ideal choice for modern gardens. Although they are foliage plants, they have the added bonus of producing long-lasting and attractive
They are frost sensitive and must be overwintered at a minimum of 7°C.
A succulent ball can be made by tying two lined wire hanging baskets together and threading with individual echeveria plants.
Annuals are the most popular flowers for summer baskets, the best being those that trail or form neat mounds and that have a long flowering season. Brightly-coloured mixed plantings are classic, while combinations of two complementary shades give the display a modern edge.
Add a bit of sunshine with a scheme developed around the yellow blooms of calibrachoa and matching yellow eyes of marguerites with the contrasting deep purple blooms of petunias and cherry pie-scented heliotropium.
It’s a display that will bring cheer to gloomy areas of the garden, and especially spots where the sun disappears in the afternoon. Be clever and use hanging baskets to create links between planting in different areas of the garden
Whatever scheme you opt for, it’s important that you combine plants according to their vigour, to avoid displays getting out of control.
Care And Maintenance
Hanging baskets are often displayed in the most exposed and sunny spots in the garden, so it’s important to check whether they need watering first thing in the morning and again in the evening.
Plants will also need feeding every 10 to 14 days to keep them healthy and productive. You must avoid giving them fertilisers that are rich in nitrogen, though, as then plants will go on to produce more leaves than flowers.
To prevent plants growing lopsided it’s also a good idea to rotate your baskets every few days.
Routine deadheading will not only improve the appearance of your displays but also prevent plants running to seed instead of putting their energy into producing a succession of blooms.
Deadheading will also prevent the spent flowers lying on and rotting the other plants. Removing any yellowing or decaying leaves regularly will also help to keep your baskets looking lush.
Vigorous trailing plants can soon become straggly if left to their own devices so, in addition, prune them occasionally to tidy their shape.