One of our favorite ways to add big splashes of color all over the farm is with homemade hanging baskets.
They are perfect to brighten up patios, porches and sitting areas. And, a great way to add more interest to flower beds and gardens.
But let’s face it – purchasing them can be a big strain on the budget!
Hanging baskets, especially large ones, can run upwards of $50 to $75.
Even worse, many store-bought baskets outgrow their containers and soil by mid-summer. It can be quite disheartening – and certainly costly.
The perfect solution? Making your own of course!
It’s actually quite easy to create your own incredible homemade hanging baskets. And, for a fraction of the cost of store-bought baskets.
Even better, by creating your own, you can easily make baskets that stand up to the test of time, and keep blooming beautifully all season long.
Now that is a win-win!
Planting Hanging Baskets – Simple Secrets To Success
Start With Bigger Baskets
One thing we’ve learned over the years is that the size of the basket makes a huge difference when it comes to success.
Although smaller baskets can be less-expensive, they simply don’t allow enough space for plants as they grow.
And the more soil that can be used, the more plants will thrive.
In smaller baskets, by mid-summer, there is little room left for roots to expand. As a result, plants become become root-bound.
Once that occurs, they become nearly impossible to water and maintain. Water flows directly through, and even fertilizer can’t help.
In the end, the plants become sparse with blooms and you are left with an ugly mess of dying foliage.
So how big do baskets need to be?
Any basket less than 14″ in diameter simply won’t work long term. 10″ and 12″ pots look great when first planted, but they quickly outgrow their container.
Although 14″ baskets can work well, our personal favorites are 16″ metal wire baskets.
At 16″ in diameter, they allow plenty of room for growth. But, they are still not too big, or too heavy to lift and hang.
Best of all, the baskets easily have enough room for plants to grow for an entire season.
Plastic Baskets vs. Wire Baskets
As for plastic containers vs. wire baskets, we are much bigger fans of the wire versions.
Plastic containers create a couple of issues for plants.
For one, the covering of plastic around the entire root ball holds in heat. And in the middle of summer, that can spell trouble for plants.
In addition, the full, non-porous covering makes it harder for oxygen to reach roots.
Wire baskets with fibrous coco coir liners make for great baskets. The liners are not only fairly inexpensive and replaceable, they also allow air through to the roots of plants.
Wire baskets might cost a bit more up-front, but they last for years. Plastic baskets on the other hand rarely make it more than a single season.
Product Link : 16″ Wire Master Gardener Basket – $8.50 – Coco Coir Liners For Hanging Baskets
Planting Hanging Baskets – Soil Matters!
Once you have your basket ready to go, it’s all about the soil. Great soil equals great plants. Plain and simple.
Container plants, unfortunately, are stuck the entire year with the soil they are planted in. .
Potted plants need rich, lightweight, nutrient-filled soil to help power plants all season long.
Although there are a slew of high-quality potting mixes available, we make our own with a simple combination of topsoil, compost, perlite, worm castings and coffee grounds. See : How To Make Super Soil For Hanging Baskets and Containers
Not only does it save big on the budget, it allows us to create a lightweight, super-charged potting soil teeming with nutrients. And it helps keep our plants blooming all year long.
Planting Time – What Plants Are Best? And How Many Do I Plant?
When it comes to what plants work best for hanging baskets, the key to success is choosing flowering varieties that produce heavy blooms for long periods.
Wave petunias, begonias, impatiens, lantana and verbena are all excellent choices for hanging baskets.
But our absolute favorite are ornamental peppers. They make for an incredibly unique and stunning hanging basket. See : The Most Incredible Hanging Basket Plants Ever
Their thick, dark foliage is a wonderful contrast to the hundreds of colorful pepper “blooms” that cover the plant.
How Many Plants To Plant – Don’t Overcrowd!
Even more important than what you choose is how many plants you plant in each basket.
There always seems to be the temptation to overfill or over-plant hanging baskets and containers.
It is certainly understandable. After all, we want the flowers to fill the space and look incredible from day 1.
The only problem is that it allows no room for future growth. As plants begin to grow, they quickly become overcrowded and starved for nutrients.
For our 16″ baskets, we use 7 annual plants. We evenly space 5 around the edges, and then place two in the middle. For 14″ baskets, we use 5 to 6.
It may seem a little bare for the first few weeks, but they have room to expand.
The Secret To Maintaining Beautiful Baskets All Season Long.
Even with great soil from the beginning, hanging baskets need additional nutrients to keep blooming all season long.
The key with fertilizing hanging baskets is slow and steady. It is important to fertilize in small regular doses to keep plants strong, without getting too big, too fast.
We use worm castings to fertilize all of our hanging baskets and containers.
We sprinkle a few tablespoons on the soil surface of our plants every two to three weeks. Every time we water, the nutrients leach to the roots in the soil below.
Worm castings are great because they slowly release their nutrients to plants for the perfect steady supply. Product Link : Worm Castings 15 lb bag – $18.74
By mid to late summer, if plants look like they need more of an instant boost, we use a liquid solution of compost tea or worm casting tea.
It works great for a quick supply of nutrients, and it easy to make. See : 4 DIY Liquid Fertilizers That Work!
The Importance Of Regular Watering
Last but not least, how and when you water is just as vital to a plants short and long-term success as the soil and plants you choose.
Hanging plants dry out a bit faster than those in beds. Because of this, most hanging baskets need watered on a daily basis.
The best time to water hanging baskets is in the early morning. It gives plants the moisture needed to make it through the heat of the day.
One final note. When those plants finally fade in the fall, don’t just throw them away.
Instead, add them to the compost pile! All of that great soil and plant foliage breaks down to help make wonderful compost.
Here’s to having great-looking hanging baskets this year! Jim and Mary.
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