Wildlife-friendly hanging basket

Wildlife-friendly hanging basket

Planted up with annual bedding plants, hanging baskets are typically devoid of wildlife value. Plant up an alternative, packed with pollen and nectar for bees, instead.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

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.

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You Will Need

  • Calibrachoa 'Caberet Series'
  • Bidens aurea
  • Lobelia maritima
  • Lobularia maritima
  • Petunia 'Easy Wave White'
  • Helitropium arborescens 'White Queen'
  • Verbena 'Temari Coral Pink'
  • Diascia 'Little Dancer'
  • Lobelia 'Little Dancer'
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Conifer clippings
  • Thatch and/or moss from your lawn
  • Slow-release fertiliser
  • Water-retaining granules

Step 1

Lining the hanging basket with conifer branches
Lining the hanging basket with conifer branches

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.

Step 2

Lining the basket with plastic, to conserve moisture
Lining the basket with plastic, to conserve moisture

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.

Step 3

Trimming the conifer foliage
Trimming the conifer foliage

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.

Step 4

Planting the larger plants in the centre of the hanging basket
Planting the larger plants in the centre of the hanging basket

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.

Step 5

Adding the trailing plants around the edge of the basket
Adding the trailing plants around the edge of the basket

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

Step 6

Watering the hanging basket
Watering the hanging basket

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 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.

Kevin Smith