Not everyone has the space for a full-blown vegetable garden. And yet even a few containers clustered on the patio can provide a meaningful contribution to the kitchen. And then there’s this – the humble hanging basket.
Read on or watch our video to discover which fruits and vegetables to grow in a hanging basket, the best way to plant one up – and, of course, how to look after it so you can guarantee something extra tasty for your efforts!
Best Hanging Basket Plants
Hanging baskets offer an excellent way to pack more produce into a smaller space. Suspended from rafters, walls or framing the front door, they provide ample opportunity to make the very best of the space you have.
You can grow a surprising variety of crops in hanging baskets. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries are my favourites. Growing salad leaves in this way lifts them up out of reach of hungry slugs. Chilli peppers, leafy herbs, spinach, dwarf beans – even cucumbers are suitable candidates for basket growing and can make for a highly attractive display. And, of course, don’t forget a basket (or two) packed with flowering annuals to pull in the pollinators.
With our Garden Planner it’s easy to add hanging baskets to your garden plan. Simply click on the selection bar drop-down menu and choose Garden Objects from the list. Select a basket and place it where you want it. Once you’ve adjusted the dimensions using the corner ‘handles’, click on the selection bar drop-down menu again and select All Plants. Select the plant you wish to grow in your basket and drop it into position on your plan. You can even change the spacings between plants (as shown in the Adding Plants and Varieties video) so you can pack more crops into your basket.
How to Plant a Hanging Basket
Hanging baskets can dry out quicker than other containers because they’re more exposed to the wind and sun, so it’s best to use a basket that’s at least 14in (35cm) in diameter. This will hold at least a gallon of potting compost, which means it will be slower to dry out, but it will be very heavy so make sure that your hanging basket’s chains – and the support you’re suspending it from – is strong enough.
A 14-inch (35cm) basket will hold three strawberry plants; two cherry tomatoes plus French marigolds or basil as companion plants; two to three peppers; or up to five leafy herbs. Or sow cut-and-come-again salad seeds over the surface, then cover with a thin layer of compost. They will grow on to give a luscious, edible display.
Wire baskets need a liner. An old compost bag is free and very easy to use. Place the basket into a bucket that’s slightly smaller than the basket to stop it rocking about.
Open the compost bag out then cut it to size, erring on the generous size just in case. Line the basket so that the black inner face is facing out, then pierce some holes into the liner for drainage. Don’t pierce the bottom of the liner – it will collect water, effectively acting as a handy reservoir. Alternatively you could pop a pot saucer into the bottom.
Now for the compost. Use a quality multipurpose potting compost, mixed with a handful of slow-release fertiliser. You could also mix in a couple of handfuls of well-rotted leafmould to improve water retention. Start filling your basket with the compost/fertiliser mix, stopping just shy of the top.
Remove the plants from their pots, gently tease apart the outside roots then space them out equally in the basket. Fill in around rootballs, firming in the potting soil with your fingertips as you go. The final level of the potting soil should be an inch (2.5cm) below the rim of the basket.
Trim off any excess liner then hang the basket up and give it a thorough watering. Most crops will prefer a sunny position, while leafy salads and herbs will be fine in a part-shaded location.
Looking After Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets are completely reliant on you for enough moisture, so water your baskets as soon as they start to dry out. This may be as frequently as twice a day in hot weather. Alternatively set up a drip-irrigation system. When the slow-release fertiliser is exhausted begin watering on a liquid feed, once a week.
Pick your produce regularly. For fruiting plants such as tomatoes this stimulates more fruits, while leafy salads and herbs such as basil and mint will respond by growing lots more leaves.
Hanging baskets are a fantastic addition to the garden and help to bring your fruits, vegetables and herbs up off the ground to eye level where you can really marvel at their abundance. Have you grown crops in hanging baskets? If you have, we’d love to know what you grew – and hear any savvy tips you might have too.