Bro, do you even lift?
Boost your floral impact. Level up your plants. Uplift your patio garden. Raise the roots. Great, we got a bunch of hanging basket related puns up and out of the way (that’s the last one... because these plants are over it).
Hanging baskets are the unappreciated heroes of the patio. Whether suspended from a shepherd’s hook above your perennial flower bed, or dangling from that one random hook on the underside of your pergola, hanging baskets extend your growing areas while bringing visual interest closer to eye level.
While you can certainly opt for a nice leafy fern, or one of those pre-picked petunia variety baskets that come in 31 flavor profiles like some sort of botanical Baskin Robbins, it’s nice to be able to grow something that the neighbors aren’t also growing.
A few quick rules for planting with hanging baskets
- Don’t plant heavily. You want lightweight soil with lightweight plants, otherwise your shepherd’s hook will lean awkwardly until a light breeze causes your hanging basket to become just an ordinary pot, sitting on the ground with dirt splashed all around it.
- No tall plants. One of the goals of hanging baskets is to allow the plants to spill over the sides and start a downward climb. Nobody successfully grows corn in a hanging basket. Nobody.
- Shallow rooted plants are best. You have very limited space for roots when you plant in hanging baskets, so you don’t want to plant anything that requires a significant root system to grow well.
- Water often. Containers often need more frequent watering than in-ground plants, because their roots are unable to tap into the water table below the surface. Hanging plants are even more susceptible to drying out because there is air flow all around them. Roots don’t need or want wind. Opting for a coconut coir basket liner will not only look better than those bright pink plastic baskets you get at your local greenhouse, but they also help retain moisture to keep your plants happy throughout the day.
Here are a couple of plant ideas to get you started
Certainly one of the most delicious plants you can grow in a hanging basket, strawberries are often grown in containers high off the ground due to their vining nature. Strawberry plant leaves tend to brown and crisp in the hot summer months, which makes them great candidates for hanging baskets. When summer comes, move them to an area that gets a bit more shade throughout the day.
A hanging basket is the ideal planting location for this vining flower. BONUS: in addition to it’s unique flowers and leaf patterns, every part of the nasturtium plant is edible! Add a couple of flowers and leaves into a salad at your next BBQ, and your guests will be letting all the grilled meat get cold while they Instagram their masterpiece salad.
Lettuce is a great choice for hanging baskets because they are light weight, they don’t need a lot of attention, and you can mix and match different colored/patterned lettuce varieties in the same basket for added visual interest.
Yeah, okay, I dissed petunias at the beginning of this article, but these are so tiny and cute! With hundreds of tiny petunia-like blooms on each plant, it’s no wonder they have the nickname ‘million bells.’ When properly taken care of, these flowers will bloom from spring all the way until the first frost, with them actually being perennial in warmer climates. Pro-tip: Calibrachoa plants don’t like damp soil, so make sure your hanging basket has good drainage. If they start to wilt, they might be getting root rot from being watered too often.
Herbs are great for 3 reasons. They smell amazing, they taste amazing, and some of them act as natural mosquito repellents. Amazing. Try a combination of thrillers and spillers to get the most bang for your buck out of these baskets. Recommendations include oregano, thyme, and marjoram to spill over the sides of the baskets, and basil and lemon balm to add height and mosquito repelling impact. Bonus points if you use green AND purple basil for a stunning visual contrast.
This one is for you overachievers out there. There are several cherry tomato varieties that do extremely well in hanging baskets because they have a tendency to want to grow sideways or downward instead of growing up. The most popular hanging variety is the ‘Tumbling Tom,’ which is available in both red and yellow. Other great hanging varieties include ‘Red Robin,’ ‘Whippersnapper,’ and ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry.’ These are often not available as plants in local greenhouses, so you might have to start these from seed, and train them to tumble out from the basket. Like I said, this is for the overachievers.