Growing plants in hanging baskets (Flowers, Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits)

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Like with most things in life the cultivation of plants too has evolved over the years. From adorning just our gardens, today they have found their way onto our patios, porches, balconies, and even inside our homes. This blog explains, Growing plants in hanging baskets and what are the flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits you can grow in a hanging basket.

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Urbanization has resulted in the restriction of space which in turn has brought plant lovers across the globe to find innovative ways to grow plants in most conditions. Plants, like any other living entity, need proper conditions, nourishment, and care for their optimal growth.

Growing plants in hanging baskets
Growing plants in hanging baskets

Growing plants in hanging baskets are the offshoot of our quest for beauty and innovation and overcoming the limitations put forth by the struggle of space restrictions. Besides, beautifying our surroundings, plants grown in hanging baskets, when strategically placed, grant privacy within open spaces too.

The planting process: Growing plants in hanging baskets

Here is the planting process, growing plants in hanging baskets.

Selecting the right basket for your hanging plant

To begin, we need to be aware of the numerous shapes, sizes and materials available in the market when purchasing a hanging basket. It has been found that wire baskets are most common, as they are light in weight, therefore, easy to hang, strong and solid and provide good drainage for the water thereby preventing water clogging which more often than not damages the plants.

Another advantage of choosing a wire hanging basket is that you can insert plants not only from the top but from the sides as well, as there are multiple gaps between the wires.

Not all the plants need to be planted from the top and when a plant is inserted into the soil from the sides, it gives a rather abstract and beautiful cascade of greenery.

Of course, this does not mean that other containers cannot be used to make the hanging basket. In fact, any pot, plastic or otherwise like dried gourds or used containers can be used as long as there is a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.

Next, a sturdy attachment like a wire, a rope or a chain should be attached to the top of the pot carefully and eventually to find a strong spot on the balcony, a wall or a beam to hang your basket. The hook that is used to hang the basket also needs to be sturdy so that the plant hangs safely without falling to the ground.

Considering that each plant has its own needs it is preferred if the hanging basket can be rotated while it is suspended in the air. By doing this the amount of sunlight that the plant gets can be monitored and controlled.

It is quite common in the USA, especially parts of Central Nebraska, where plants facing the scorching sun tend to get damaged and the plants facing another direction thrive, even though equal care has been provided to both plants.

While choosing a location to hang your planter, you must determine where the excess water that will overflow from the basket will go. More often than not the hanging garden plants do need frequent watering.

Here are a few quirky, out of the box and unusual (Do-It-Yourself) hanging basket ideas that have originated in the US but can be used anywhere around the world – Reusable grocery bags, colanders, old birdcages, coconut shells, embroidery hoops, old tires, mason jars, plastic bottles, and even old footwear like crocs!

They are cheap, easy to make and great for upcycling!

Lining the hanging basket

Once the hanging basket has been selected, it needs to be lined. The lining can be made of plastic, coir or even coconut fiber. It is a common practice in America to use materials like sphagnum moss as a basket liner. This can be done by tearing the moss into multiple pieces and placing them securely in the hanging basket. Of course, once you dampen the sphagnum moss, it tends to bond with itself creating the perfect lining.

To further secure your moss or coir lining, it is advisable to add a plastic layer under it. Be sure to poke holes around the plastic layer in order to allow adequate air circulation so that your plant can breathe. They also help with the drainage system of the soil so that to avoid water clogging which in turn subjects the roots to a rotting.

Preparing the potting mix for your hanging plant

Now that your hanging basket is lined and ready to use, we start by filling the basket with a suitable potting mix. Ideally, a commercial potting mix consisting of peat, moss and compost should be used in hanging baskets. To promote drainage, substances such as perlite or vermiculite can be added to the mix.

You could also prepare your own potting mix at home by mixing one part of perlite, one part clean sand and one part peat moss. Be sure not to use beach sand.

Another option is to go the organic way and for that a potting mix can be prepared with things like compost, humus, earthworm castings and, or leaf mold.

Caution has to be taken in terms of avoiding the use of regular garden soil as over a period of time it tends to become heavy and compressed. There is also a possibility that garden soil may contain pathogens that might infect your plants, hence it is best kept away.

Regardless of which way you decide to go, the drainage of the potting mix needs to be given utmost importance.

Finding the right method to grow your hanging plant

Hanging baskets can be grown from seeds as well as cuttings. When ready-made hanging plants are purchased from the market, they can turn out heavy on the pockets, and frankly, every year the prices seem to rise.

Growing your own hanging baskets from seeds is a great way to own beautiful flowering baskets on a budget!

Seeds can be first started in traditional seed trays and then moved to the hanging baskets after 4 to 6 weeks depending on your geography. If you have a large basket with enough room, the seeds can also be started directly in the basket itself.

The above tips are necessary for Growing plants in hanging baskets.

planting a hanging basket step by step
planting a hanging basket

When should you plant your hanging basket seeds?

Generally speaking, you would want your hanging garden looking lush by the time spring approaches. Keeping this in mind the process of the seeds for the hanging basket plants in the United States and the other cold countries should be started at least 10 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost date.

Unlike garden plants, hanging baskets are mobile enough to be transferred indoors when threatened by adverse weather conditions. When placed indoors, adequate light can be provided by fluorescent light bulbs which should be kept 1 to 1.5 inches above the seed tray. The same method can be applied to the seeds that have been sown directly in the hanging baskets.

For, Growing plants in hanging baskets, now you must know when you should plant in the hanging basket seeds.

Planting the hanging basket using a cutting

Once you have decided on the plant type that will be adorning your basket, you can start the potting process. Start with making a hole in the soil ensuring that the depth of the roots is more than what would be found in your outdoor garden.

In a wire hanging basket, the plants can be planted from the side of the lining as well. Here, the plants are placed first and the lining is tucked around them to keep them steady and provide them with support. After this process, the potting mix is added to the basket. You can also place the plant cuttings from the inside and then add the potting mix over them.

Lastly, place the plants that are at the top of the basket to complete the ensemble. Space the plants evenly keeping the tallest plant in the center of the basket. There must remain a minimum of 1 inch between plants. During this process, you must be careful that the top plants do not overlap the side inserted plants.

Now, water the basket thoroughly so that it is completely drenched. You can add more potting mix to compensate for when it that has settles down.

Pruning and regular consumption of the fruits and vegetables is very important while growing in a hanging container. To ensure exceptional health and beauty of the hanging basket plant, regular pruning and in case of the herbs and vegetables, regular usage is imperative.

Want to grow your own ‘Hanging Garden’? Well, here are general FYI tips and tricks to keep in mind when exploring the world of suspended plants!

Hanging baskets are a great way to utilize garden space. They work well in compact patios or are a perfect choice for small apartments. They are great indoors and out and give you the liberty to enjoy your favorite plants anywhere and at any time.

How many plants can you pot in one hanging basket?

Growing plants in hanging baskets is easy, but you should also know how many plants you can pot in a hanging basket.

Logically, it depends on the size of the hanging basket and more importantly on the plant itself. Each plant has its individual growth size and rate, hence that must be considered as overcrowding the hanging basket can be harmful to the plant. Aesthetically too, the overall appearance may become messy with overcrowding.

Other factors like harvesting, need to be looked at. Generally, it is understood that each plant needs to be spaced at a 1-inch distance from each other. So if the basket has a 12-inch diameter, there will be 12 plants in your hanging basket. This rule applies to smaller, generic plants. For bigger growing flowers like the Geruniams and Fuschias, there would be approximately 5 plants in a 12-inch diameter hanging container.

Can the hanging basket be overcrowded?

An overcrowded hanging baskets disadvantage is that the plants will need more frequent watering. The roots could get entangled and thereby the plants growth would be stunted.

Placing your plants without adequate distancing could cause the possibility of water-clogging and suffocation of the roots. Besides, an overcrowded hanging basket loses its beauty and character!

How many plants can be potted in a 14 inch diameter hanging basket?

Everything depends on your selection of plants. Plants with bushier growth most obviously need more space. Good health of the plant is any gardener’s primary concern, and to ensure this one must most definitely steer clear of overcrowding. In a 14-inch diameter hanging basket, approximately 3 – 5 large-sized plants can be grown comfortably.

Various types of flowers that you can plant in your hanging basket

The list of flowers that can be grown in hanging baskets is quite vast, apart from Growing plants in hanging baskets. With some known for their beauty while others for their durability.

flowers for hanging baskets

Some of the most popular types of flowers grown in hanging baskets are –

  • Petunia: These colorful, sun-loving flowers are easy to maintain, relatively easy to grow with only an occasional need for water.
  • Potulaca: Found mainly in hot and dry climatic regions, the Potulacas are tiny flowers in a wide range of colors that have minimum fuss for their growth. They thrive in direct sunlight and require occasional watering.
  • Begonia: These flowers are annuals with multiple blooms. They like their soil to be moist but not wet and hence, this is where caution must be taken. Placing the Begonias in a sunny spot gives an extra impetus to the blooms.
  • Verbena: This species of flowers can handle extreme heat with ease. In fact, their ideal requirement is at least ten hours of sunshine! They need occasional watering and thrive in well-drained soil.
  • Impatiens: This species of flowers are essentially summer blossoms that require minimal care. They require the soil to remain moist at all times and need moderate sunlight. The Impatiens can blossom in vibrant colors of red, pink, yellow, purple, and white and can instantly light up your surroundings with their presence.
  • Pansy: These uniquely shaped flowers are easy to grow and easy to maintain. They need to be watered regularly with periodical doses of general fertilizer. Place them in an area that received moderate sunlight and watch them bloom.
  • Lantana: The Lantanas are easy-going flowers that give long duration blossoms. They can grow in almost any or all conditions but best thrive in full sunlight and well-drained acidic soil.
  • Geranium: These pretty flowers grow best in moderate sunlight, need deep watering, and well-drained soil.

Besides the above-mentioned varieties, there are other popular flower species grown in the United States during hanging baskets – Black-eyed Susan Vine, Calibrachoa, Tuch-me-not, New Guinea, Nasturtium, Water Hyssop, Heliothropium, Crane’s-bill, Ivy Geranium, Lobelias, Vervain, Moss-Rose-Purslane, and Signet Marigold, to name a few.

Each of these species has its own unique personality with a common quality of being no-fuss plants with an amazing flair of adding color and zest to their surroundings.

Vegetables that you can grow in your hanging basket

While leading an urban lifestyle we are faced with space constraints and are constantly looking for planting solutions. In this scenario, it is truly an eye-opener to be able to own a complete variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits and that too, in the most innovative of hanging baskets!

Growing vegetables and herbs in a hanging basket is truly an easy to grow and easy to maintain option. Having them at hand indoors or in the kitchen balcony makes life easier and also enhances ones urge to consume these nutritious and freshly grown ingredients.

You can grow a variety of vegetables from inside your home, apart from Growing plants in hanging baskets.

Let’s look at a few popular examples –

Small Asian Eggplants

Suitable to grow in any climate, and popular in most parts of the United States, these small or dwarf eggplants grow well in patios and balconies in hanging baskets. They are bushy in nature and grow to about 16 – 20 inches in height.

You can expect dozens of these egg-shaped deep purple colored veggies in a single season and they can be consumed fried, baked, roasted or pureed as per your taste buds

Cabbage

It may sound unbelievable but yes, you can grow cabbage in containers and specifically in hanging baskets. While starting out on this adventure there is one thing that you need to ensure and that is not to overcrowd the pot as that will stunt the size of the cabbage.

In effect, one needs to sow seeds for only a single plant in a 5-gallon basket. Cabbage is what is known as a ‘cool weather vegetable’ and though it likes plenty of sunshine. Cabbage needs watering 2 to 3 times a week and is prone to get attacked by insects and pests so watch out!

Lettuce

This leafy plant enhances our sandwiches and salads and comes in a number of varieties. Again like the cabbage, this too is a ‘cool weather plant’ though it does not like direct sunlight.

Once the seeds sprout and seedlings form, the plant is ready to be consumed and there is no need to wait any longer. Lettuce rejects very rich soil as the roots of the plant start to rot. You need to keep a regular check on the plant lest it gets attacked by insects and pests.

Small Peppers

Peppers can be easily grown in hanging baskets using transplants. They are commonly used as companion plants and require moderate watering.

The best time to consume them is soon after the harvesting as their nutritional value starts to diminish over a period of time. Ideally, a single plant should be accommodated in an 8-inch hanging basket and should be planted just before the onset of spring.

Cherry Tomatoes/Dwarf Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes and Dwarf tomatoes make perfect candidates for your hanging basket especially due to their tenacious and productive nature. Both these varieties require similar conditions and paint a pretty picture especially the Cherry tomatoes as they grow on vines.

They grow well in soil that is mixed with 10% – 20% perlite and the roots need a good amount of air supply. While watering, you must ensure that the entire area has been dampened. As the plants grow their vines and bushes may need to be supported by strings or stakes.

Peas

The Pea plant thrives in cool humid weather. It should be planted 1 inch apart from each other and the depth in the soil should also be 1 inch. In your hanging basket let these plants trail along the sides making them an easy harvest for you.

The Pea plant requires regular watering to avoid the drying out. This amazing and sweet vegetable truly enhances the beauty of the garden along with being useful in so many culinary preparations.

Green Beans

Like the Pea plant, the Green Beans plant also form trails along the sides of your hanging baskets especially if grown with together with some other species of plant. The Green Beans plant requires loamy soil which is dark and crumbly and proper sunshine. You must ensure that no excess water remains in the soil. The bush variety of Green Beans plant might not require support but the pole variety definitely does for optimum growth. Harvesting of the beans should be done while they are still fresh on the stalk.

Spinach

The Spinach plant is an excellent ingredient for soups, salads, main dishes and also as an accompaniment. It is an easy to grow plant which likes moderate climate. The seeds should be sown ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart. The seed takes 1 – 2 weeks to germinate. It can be harvested on need based but when the hot weather approaches the entire plant needs to be cut out and consumed.

Mustard Greens

This plant is highly nutritious. The young leaves are used in salads while the older ones can be steamed and used in a variety of recipes.

The hanging basket used to grow Mustard greens needs to be at least 5 – 6 inches deep containing a soilless potting mix that is well-drained. The Mustard greens should be placed in full sunshine although partial shade will do no harm.  

Mexican Sour Gherkin

These are a variety of vegetables, however, suitable to grow in your hanging basket garden. Although not belonging to either the watermelon family or the cucumber family it resembles mini watermelons in appearance and tastes quite like cucumbers.

They are most commonly uses in pickles, salads, and cocktails. The Mexican Sour Gherkin’s hanging basket can be placed in a nice sunny spot on the balcony for it to thrive.

Herbs that you can plant in your hanging basket

Well, you can also plant herbs in a hanging basket apart from Growing plants in hanging baskets.

Dill

One of the most popular ‘grown at home’ herbs across the USA, the Dill leaves and the seeds are often used for flavoring a large variety of dishes. Dill is most commonly grown from seeds rather than transplants and is fairly easy to grow and is a low-maintenance plant.

Parsley

A hardy plant that is well known for its flavor and nutritional value. Parsley is grown from its seeds and is again a non-fussy plant. It is normally free from any diseases and is pests resistant except for aphids which might occasionally cause a problem.

For maximum flavor, it is advised to pick the parsley leaves in the morning hours when the plant’s oils are the strongest. It is best to consume parsley while it is fresh but it can be frozen too.

Thyme

Thyme is used for both flavor and decorative purposes. It is difficult to grow this herb from its seeds and hence generally the division method is adopted. It’s easy-going nature makes the thyme plant a popular consideration for xeriscaping.

Sage

The Sage plant grows best from its cuttings as the seeds are slow in germinating. It enjoys plenty of sunshine and well-drained soil.

Lavender

The Lavender is most popular for its exquisite aroma. It thrives best in warm and sunny weather and likes its soil to be well-drained. These plants call for regular attention and constant pruning to encourage new growth.

Mint

Mint plants have many varieties. Almost all the varieties can be grown from seeds with the exception of the peppermint which grows from cuttings exclusively. The mint plant is known to be aggressive by nature and if left to grow freely, it can take over the entire space in no time. It is to be noted, that mint plants are susceptible to pests invasion and all kinds of plant diseases

Rosemary

This herb originates from the Mediterranean and is mainly used for garnishing. It’s purple flowers and thin needle-like leaves create an impressive picture giving it an ornamental function. The rosemary plant requires well-drained soil and approximately 6 to 8 hours of sunshine.

Oregano

The Oregano plant makes a great companion plant as it acts as a repellant for insects and pests that infect vegetables like beans and broccoli. It can be easily grown either from its seeds or cuttings. It thrives best in full sunshine and well-drained soil. This hardy plant does not require fertilizing. Oregano leaves can be frozen and stored even after they have been dried.

Basil

Popularly known as the King of Herbs, the Basil plant is found in almost all kitchen gardens. It can be easily grown with both seeds and its root balls. The basil plant needs a good amount of sunshine and well-drained soil. The flowers of the Basil plant need to be plucked out for the leaves of the plant to retain their aroma and flavor.

Chives

Although the division is the best method for growing chives, they can also be grown using the seeds. Chives, like most other herbs, need full sunshine, well-drained soil with occasional fertilization. It is a versatile plant and not only the leaves but even the flowers of the Chive plant are and can be used to decorate salads, soups, and other dishes.

Marjoram

A plant that is welcomed into the garden for both its flavor as well as its fragrance. The Marjoram plant is best grown from its seeds and does well in bright sunlight with well-drained soil. Its presence attracts some beneficial insects like butterflies.

The best flavor in the leaves can be found before the plant begins to flower or else a taste of bitterness seeps into the leaves. To store the leaves, the stems of the Marjoram can be cut and bunched and hung upside down in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated place.

Lemon Balm

A part of the mint family, and as its name suggests, the Lemon Balm’s leaves have a sweet and lemony fragrance. They are best used in teas and potpourris. The Lemon balm leaves can also be used in cooking, in essential oils, and as an insect repellant.

With so many uses to its credit, this plant is easy to grow with the simple requirement of full sunshine, well-drained soil and no fertilization as that may cause it to lose its fragrance.

If you want to be a little adventurous then Calendula, Ginger, Salvia, and Penny Royal can be a few other options that you can experiment with!

What are the various types of fruits that you can plant in your hanging basket?

Apart from Growing plants in hanging baskets, now let us see various types of fruits that you can plant in your hanging baskets?

Strawberries

Strawberries make a good choice of fruit in your hanging basket garden. The strawberry plant thrives well when hung away from other planters, especially in hanging baskets as they are less exposed to pests and insects and well-drained soil can protect their roots from rotting.

Hanging baskets also make the harvesting of these delicious fruits an easy process. The diameter of the hanging basket should be a minimum of 12 – 15 inches from the top to the bottom which can house approximately 3 strawberry plants.

A potting soil mix is best suitable for the strawberry plant and the oncoming of spring being the best time. The strawberry plant enjoys sunlight but not too much. The good thing about hanging baskets is that they can be moved around to a shady area when required so that the plant does not suffer if there is any possibility of excessive sunlight

The strawberry plant in a hanging basket is grown from a transplant. It needs a moderate amount of fertilizer especially when it begins to flower. It also needs deep watering but one must be cautious not to water the leaves and the fruits as that could cause a fungal infection.

As soon as the fruits begin to turn red they need to be harvested. It would be a good idea to cover the hanging basket with a net to protect the strawberry’s fruits from birds.

Raspberries

The raspberry is a compact summer fruiting plant with dangling stems. It is rather ideal for hanging containers especially when placed on outdoor patios and balconies. In early summer, it produces flavourful and juicy edible fruits. In a single season, this plant can produce up to 1.5 kg of fruits.

They are easy to grow and easy to maintain plants that can be used for cooking and raw consumption. To house a single raspberry plant, the diameter of the hanging basket must be at least 5 – 7 inches from the top to the bottom.

Blackberries

The blackberry plants are a great addition to your hanging fruit baskets. They can be planted individually or as a duo accompanying other varieties of berries. They produce delicious and sweet edible fruits in large quantities.

Very similar to the raspberry, the blackberry is not only productive but also very attractive. These berries require well-drained soil with an additional fertilizer. They need to be watered every alternate day as long as the soil appears moist however, do not over water as that may cause root-rotting.

Pruning is a must after the first fruiting season is complete. If the plants do not fruit in the first year, then you do not need to prune them until the fruits develop. They appreciate sunlight however once the crops appear, being covered with a net can help keep birds away. These fruits can be consumed fresh or used in a variety of desserts and jams.

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The concept of hanging baskets is fast catching up on a global scale. In USA, specifically in the state of Ohio, they have a special government department that undertakes the work of preparing hanging baskets by planting them with beautiful flowers and hanging them all around creating a beautiful and verdant oasis throughout the city. In a way, these hanging baskets have an individual personality and make a bold statement of their own! I hope this will help Growing plants in hanging baskets.

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