Ask five gardeners to choose the best hanging basket for plants and you'll get five different answers. The many types and styles of baskets have appealing qualities based on personal preference or the ability to match outdoor décor. Hanging baskets come in a wide variety of shapes and materials. All hanging baskets must have a few essential requirements to make planting in the container a successful endeavor. The basket must have drainage, adequate depth to allow for mature root growth and the ability to hold potting medium without collapsing.
Some gardeners swear by the versatility of a wire basket. These metal-framed planters can be lined with coconut fiber or sphagnum moss and filled with potting soil to create the perfect home for outdoor floral displays. Wire baskets come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Lining the container with coconut fiber or moss promotes good drainage through the bottom of the pot. These planters do have a downside, though. Plants tend to dry out quickly since the moss and fiber don't hold much moisture. Some manufacturers have started placing a plastic sheeting layer in the middle of the coconut fiber layer to help retain moisture in the hanging basket.
Plastic hanging pots have been around for a long time and for good reason. Plastic is durable and comes in a variety of colors to match outdoor color schemes. Hanging plants serve as the decorative accent pieces on the deck, patio, around the pool or in the gazebo. Plastic baskets have predrilled drainage holes and many models feature a snap-on drainage tray to help limit water loss from the bottom of the planter. Nurseries use plastic baskets for most of their hanging plant stock for sale to the public. Many homeowners simply leave hangings plants in these plastic baskets, which feature attached arms that connect at the top hook. Garden centers also sell decorative plastic baskets with rope hangers.
Straw hanging baskets provide an alternative to plastic or wire baskets. These planters feature a full rounded basket base with chains or ropes extending upward to a center hook. Straw baskets resemble the typical centerpiece baskets seen on kitchen tables but with a much tighter weave. As with any planter, woven straw baskets require the placement of some kind of barrier such as moss to prevent soil loss when watering. Expect the straw to eventually rot as it becomes exposed to the cycle of watering and exposure to the elements in the outdoor environment.
Wood provides a sturdy option for hanging plants. This planter requires the placement of a smaller pot inside the hanging basket to prevent the wood from rotting. Hanging redwood baskets will last much longer when a container is placed inside the basket. Filling the wood basket with dirt is an option, but recognize that you'll be limiting the life of the planter. Wood hanging baskets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most include chains that attach to a center hook for easy hanging from a ceiling hook.