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Making up hanging baskets

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In his weekly Out in the Garden column, Mark Cox, of Baytree Garden Centre in Weston, talks hanging baskets...

On the whole we gardeners are an optimistic bunch. The G-Team’s pea crop is going to be the best ever, our potatoes are going to taste better than any potatoes we’ve tasted before and we are going to get sponsored by Pot Noodle as T-Dog eats so many.

On Monday evening Auntie Maureen was paid a visit by our arch enemy Mr McKay who was now under mounting pressure to recapture the G-Team.

Petunias (56303521)
Petunias (56303521)

She told him that he would be the first one to know if we ever made contact with her. To repay her for her frankly amazing ability to lie to the authorities we’d decided that Maureen’s hanging baskets would be prize worthy at this year’s prestigious Bicker Fete.

Many of you, including Auntie Maureen, have bedding plants that you’ve been sheltering from the cold ready for planting up around now.

However fear not if you haven’t as Baytree is full of beautiful basket and bedding plants grown on their own plant nursery which are perfect for planting now.

When choosing a hanging basket, in my opinion it is always best to go for the largest one you feel you can lift and handle. The reason for this is, the larger the container the more soil and moisture it can hold.

Small baskets hold less soil and dry out quicker. I’m going to plant up a 14in/35cm diameter hanging basket which Billy, T-Dog and X-Man are going to copy.

Start by lining the inside of the basket. Traditionally, baskets would have been lined with Sphagnum Moss. However, like a lot of other gardeners, I prefer to use a coco liner which is made from coconut husk.

Into the bottom of the basket place a circular piece of polythene which will be about the size of a dinner plate. This will help to retain moisture within the basket.

Mix a good quality basket and container compost with moisture-retaining granules – all of these you can purchase at all good garden centres – and fill the basket to a third full.

Using a pair of old scissors or a garden knife make several equal distant holes around the outside of basket through the liner so that the base of the hole is level with the top of the soil.

I’ve chosen to plant a selection of bacopas around the sides.

Gently tease the plants out of their plugs and pass the roots through the holes and fan the roots out gently on top of the compost.

When finished, cover with another layer of compost and repeat the process again but stagger the holes so that they are not directly on top of each other.When the flowers begin to grow and cascade the basket will look more natural.

I managed to plant three layers of bacopas in my basket before reaching the top. That said, I left the compost 2in/5cm below the top of the basket.

Into the top I added trailing begonias around the edge and in the centre I planted upright geraniums. Make sure that when you plant these that you take care not to damage any of the other plants that are nestled below.

As soon as you water the basket its weight is going to triple. So my advice would be to hang the basket where you intend it to live and either use a hose pipe with a watering gun attachment set to a fine spray or a small watering can again with a fine rose.

The chances are the hanging basket is going to be above your head so water the basket with a smaller can – it may take longer but you won’t injure yourself in the process.

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