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Making up a Hanging Basket

After fitting your hanging basket liner (To watch our demonstration go to;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f17cILxECos) it is helpful, when making a basket up for the summer season, to place a 12" or 14" diameter piece of polythene in the bottom of the basket which will act as a reservoir. ( Do not use this in a winter basket as root damage will occur should the stored water freeze.)

Use a good quality multi purpose potting compost to fill your basket. When using sphagnum moss fill to one third of depth and insert about six of the plants you have decided to use, spacing them equally around the perimeter. At this stage it is advisable to add one of the many slow release fertilizers which are available. Most fertilizers are soluble, so that each time you water your basket you will wash out (waste) some of it. Slow release fertilizers on the other hand, have the fertilizer sealed within a resin shell which releases it gradually over a long period through micropores in the resin casing. Overwatering should have no effect on the release period. Slow release fertilizers can be obtained to give 6/12/18 and 24 month release periods to suit various purposes. 6 month being ideal for a basket, tub or other container planted up for summer in the UK.Soluble fertilizers can give even better results but these require constant monitoring, so devoted care is required, when using them, to obtain the best from your basket.

Wetting agents can be added to the compost when making up (or later as a top dressing). We have had very positive feedback from our customers since we started using our formulation. Many of our clients are working couples who are unable to water during the day. On a very hot day a basket filled with Surfinia petunias in full bloom, for instance, can require 3 or even 4 waterings in order to keep the compost moist. When this water is not applied, the compost tends to dry out from the centre and form a crust and when water is applied it tends to run off the top surface and over the sides, giving the impression that your basket is well watered, when in fact it is still very dry internally. A good wetting agent allows water to flow through and be absorbed by the compost.

Water retaining gel's can also be incorporated into the compost. These gel's usually come in crystal form and can soak up over 100 times their own volume of water. They should be used sparingly otherwise you could find your footpath, below where the basket hangs, covered in a gelatine-like substance which is very slippery and could cause an accident to the unwary. These gel's do have their benefits but do not let them give you a false sense of security where you think you can avoid watering. Regular watering is absolutely essential.

When planting your basket do not, as many beginners do, try to create an "instant" basket. Each plant that you use will need time, space and sufficient light to reach their potential so leave a minimum of 2 ins. (50cm) between plants.


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