How to plant a hanging basket

Few things can brighten up an otherwise dull wall or fence better than a hanging basket teeming with a bright, floral display. Whereas garden borders and pots on the ground tend to conform to the overall design of the garden within which they’re contained, hanging baskets are often seen as an excuse to show off an anything-goes riot of colour. 

Planting up a basket is easy but here are a few tips to help you get the hang of it.

What kind of hanging basket is best?

As with any container your basket needs to sufficiently hold soil, plants and water but allow for drainage. There are lots of companies trying to reinvent the hanging basket with gimmicky plastic affairs – some better than others – but we prefer the traditional wicker designs. You’ll need to make sure it’s suitably lined – most come with pre-lined plastic but if yours is bare then fit your own plastic, punctured with drainage holes, or an organic matter such as moss or coir.

How should I design my planting?

You could wander down to your local garden centre and randomly stuff in a few plants from its basket section, or you could take a little more care in the design of the display. The trick for maximum colour coverage is to include compact plants that will fill the space with blooms, something with a little height to tower above the masses and something that will dangle south to brighten up the area beneath the hanging basket. If you’re after a colourful splash then pick out the colours that most appeal to you and jumble them all together, or for a more considered design try just two or three contrasting or complementary colours. And don’t forget that in some designs the green foliage can be just as effective as the petals.

Any tricks for the actual planting?

Putting the plants into the basket is pretty straightforward. Make sure your basket is in a sturdy position (those curved bottoms can wobble so prop it up with a few bricks or pots) and half fill with good compost. It’s also worth considering adding some slow release plant nutrients which can come in granule form or small blocks. Put the plants in place, making sure they have sufficient space around them to grow (this information should be on the plant label), with taller plants at the back and the hanging plants at the front and sides. When you’re happy with their position fill with compost, gently firm the plants in place, then give them a good watering.

Hanging baskets do get very thirsty, so keep on top of watering and top up with more plant food from time to time. You’ll then be rewarded with floral colour throughout summer.

Five of our favourite plants for hanging baskets


Often referred to as geraniums these plants are container classics, with varieties that stand proud or ramble at a lower level. They come in a range of colours but we like the intense reds best. Many of them also have a wonderful heady fragrance.


Arguably the most popular hanging basket plants, they provide maximum bloom coverage in every shade of gaudy you could possibly imagine.

Lobeila PlantLobelia

Although they come in pink, white and purple, it’s the vivid blue flowers that are the most common basket sight. Their tiny flowers offer mass coverage and they’re good at swarming over the edges of your basket.


If you’ve got a small basket and can’t be bothered with the design part of the operation, simply stick in a begonia and it will happily fill the space and clamber around the sides. They come in a huge range of looks and colours and are particularly good for shady spots.


If you’re the kind of person who wants to maximise their growing space for edibles then consider putting strawberries in a hanging basket. Their combination of deep green foliage, white flowers and rich red fruit can be as attractive as any other plant and by dangling them from a height you’re giving the slugs a lot of work to reach them too.

What other plants do you like to see in a hanging basket? Let us know in the comments.

Two Thirsty GardenersThe Two Thirsty Gardeners, Rich and Nick, are bloggers who love gardening, eating and drinking in equal measure! They love to share tales from their allotment including their experiments turning the spoils of their crops into alcohol, both the good and the bad!

To find out more about Rich and Nick, click here.

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