Hanging baskets enhance home landscapes, porches and other seating areas by offering visual height and interest with ease and affordability. Trellises need not be built nor arches installed to draw the eye upward. This technique is often employed on porches, where hooks affixed to the undersides of overhanging roofs can support such containers, and in yards via shepherd's hooks sunk into the soil. Hanging baskets also clear up the hazardous conundrum of too many containers placed at ground level. They free up walking areas and place decoration at eye level. Following some basic concepts when using these containers will help plants thrive.
Just about any type of basket is suitable for hanging and growing plants, as long as it allows for drainage. Wire mesh and wrought-iron baskets are most suitable, according to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, because they can easily be layered with woven coconut fiber, sphagnum or sheet moss. Others, such as plastic pots, dried gourds and wooden boxes, will do as long as holes are punctured in the bottom. The leading cause of container plant death is poor drainage, the Extension Service states.
Grow plants in hanging baskets that won't outgrow the space, and only combine in one basket plants that have the same care requirements and growth habits. Along the edges, grow trailing varieties, such as potato vines and petunias, that will gracefully hang over basket edges as they mature. Cultivate low-mounding flowers such as impatiens.
Mix and match plants with contrasting colors and different forms to create the illusion of motion. Keep scale in mind when considering how large plants will grow and what they will look like when they are mature. Grow plants that are in proportion to the size of the basket and the overhead space that will be available when it is hanging. The University of Alabama Extension suggests limiting plant numbers to three to five per basket.
Soil and Planting
Fill each basket to within an inch of the rims with soil that has been infused with liberal amounts of sand or perlite, which will help aerate the soil, encourage root growth and help water drain through it. Place the plants slightly deeper than the soil line, and firm the soil carefully around each plant to anchor it.
Water baskets daily that are placed in full sun, and frequently water others. Hanging baskets dry out more rapidly than plants grown in the ground or in containers that sit on the ground, because all of their sides are exposed to the air. Add a soluble, slow-release, balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 every few weeks if the potting soil did not include it.
Consider how heavy a basket will weigh once the plants inside it reach full maturity. Watering will also add weight to a basket, so ensure that adequate support is present when deciding where to hang it and whether to use materials like chain or rope. A basket that becomes too heavy and crashes to the ground can kill the plants and break the container.