Wildlife-friendly hanging basket

Do it:

May, Jun

Takes just:

45 minutes

At its best:

Jun, Jul, Aug

Many hanging basket arrangements use bedding plants, which tend to be double-flowered, or are bred for long-lasting colour at the expense of nectar and pollen. This hanging basket display uses single-flowered bedding plants known for their attractiveness to wildlife, resulting in an attractive display that also provides food for bees and other pollinators.

Here, we’ve used conifer branches and lawn moss to line the basket. This not only has recycling value but provides hiding places for insects. The plants are widely available from garden centres – petunias and calibrachoas have blooms that attract moths, while verbena, lobelia and heliotrope are appealing to butterflies. The small white flowers of lobularia (sweet alyssum) attract tiny, beneficial wasps that help control garden pests, while bidens and diascias are great for bees.

You will need

  • Calibrachoa 'Caberet Series' x2
  • Bidens aurea x1
  • Lobelia maritima x1
  • Lobularia maritima x2
  • Petunia 'Easy Wave White' x1
  • Helitropium arborescens 'White Queen' x1
  • Verbena 'Temari Coral Pink' x1
  • Diascia 'Little Dancer' x1
  • Lobelia 'Little Dancer' x3
  • Peat-free, multi-purpose potting compost
  • Conifer clippings
  • Raked thatch, or moss from your lawn
  • Slow-release fertiliser
  • Water-retaining gel

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Rather than using sphagnum moss, which may be taken from peat bogs, line your basket with conifer clippings and moss gathered from your lawn, instead. Add plenty of material to create a good, solid base to your basket.

Add a couple of pieces of plastic – cut from an old compost bag or similar – to help retain moisture in the basket. Pierce a couple of drainage holes in the plastic, to avoid waterlogging.

Clip around any conifer foliage poking out of the sides of the hanging basket, for a neat finish. Add extra leaves around the edge of needed.

Fill the basket two-thirds full with compost and add slow-release fertiliser to encourage growth and water-retaining
gel to ensure the compost stays moist. Plant the larger, upright specimens, such as the heliotrope and verbena, in the middle first.

Add the trailing plants around the edge of the hanging basket. Space the plants evenly and fill any gaps with more compost.

The basket is now ready. Don’t water it until you’ve hung it up, because that will make it heavy and awkward to lift.

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Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith says...

Position this basket in a bright, sunny spot to get the best results from the flowers. Water every day and deadhead the blooms regularly to keep things neat and encourage more flowers to come.

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