As summer approaches and you’re preparing your garden for the season, a great way to create a unique look is to make a hanging basket. And you don’t have to settle for the boring baskets supplied by chain stores. You can make a bold arrangement of your own with colorful flowers and foliage suitable for sun or shade and even including edible plants such as lettuce, Swiss chard, and a variety of herbs including basil, thyme and chives.
How do you create your own over-the-top lush look? First you have to decide – do you want to change your basket with each season? Or do you want to create a look that will last you from spring through fall?
If you are willing and have the time to do a bit more work, then a three-season changing basket can be just what you’re looking for. You can start with lettuce in the spring, which can withstand the colder nighttime temperatures, then plant heat-tolerant annuals in June. Come late summer and early fall you can replace those with lettuce again once the very hot weather is past.
There is an even greater variety than ever before of heat-loving annuals as breeders create plants that are more tolerant of the hot weather, require less maintenance, and bloom longer into the season. Varieties such as Tuberous and wax begonias, browallia, creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia), double-flowered calibrachoa and verbenas are all excellent choices.
And you don’t have to focus solely on flower color to create show-stopping baskets. Adding cordyline for it’s rich dark leaves or Juncus (corkscrew rush) are two great foliage plants for adding drama to the center of the basket.
Another consideration is the type of container in which to house your hanging masterpiece. Large wire baskets lined with coconut liners or sheet moss are a great choice. For a very lush look, you can pack plants into the sides by creating a slit in the liner. This will give the basket a full, lavish look with plants cascading down the sides.
Placement of your basket is also something to think about, and you don’t always need to hang it from a hook. Try placing your basket on a pillar where the flowers can cascade over the edge. Placing the basket at eye level in a planting bed or on a chair makes a strong visual statement and adds a whimsical touch.
Vines and trailing plants create a fuller look for your basket as well when they trail down the side. Try the ubiquitous ornamental sweet potato vine, or go for something less common by adding golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia aurea) which is more delicate and less invasive. Another excellent choice is the black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), which will make a stunning statement trailing down from your basket.
With these tips in mind, it’s easy and fun to create a beautiful hanging basket that will bring brightness and cheer to your garden all season long!