Learning to create your own hanging basket or container is immensely rewarding and it’s easier than you think! The following recipes and pointers will help you to plant baskets that will provide interest and colour over a long period, For additional care tips and troubleshooting tactics, please pick up our ‘Container Gardening’ Guide!
Before You Begin
Step 1: Plan
Determine where your baskets going to go and how much direct sunlight they are going to get. The amount of light they receive between 11am-3pm will dictate if you need sun tolerant plants or shade tolerant plants (mostly sun between this time period requires ‘sun’ plants, mostly shade within this time requires ‘shade’ plants).
As with any garden, the more light you have, the more options you have. You can still do plenty in shady spots, but if you are able to situate containers in an area that receives five to six hours of direct sunlight each day, you’ll be able to grow that much more. In addition to sunlight, a spot with good air flow is ideal.
Step 2: Plant!
Start planting using ‘Thrill Fill Spill’ Want to create a lovely, visually appealing hanging basket or container? Let three key words guide your plant selection…
- THRILL: Plant something tall & exciting as a focal point
- FILL: Select interesting upright plants, or plants with an upright mounding habit, to fill around the ‘Thrill’
- SPILL: Place trailing plants or plants with a loose mounding habit around the edge
As much as we’d love to say this was our idea, ‘Thriller, Filler & Spiller’ is actually the brainchild of Kathy Pufahl, a container planting guru in the industry, in conjunction with Proven Winners.
What to Choose
The following are some reliable summer season annual ‘Go To’s for Thrillers, Spillers and Fillers, but they are by no means the only ones!
Hanging Basket Thrillers
- Candidates for Sun: Geraniums
- Candidates for Shade:Coleus,Upright Fuchsias, Taller Begonias (Dragon Wing, Non-Stops),
Hanging Basket Fillers
- Candidates for Sun: Fibrous begonias,Upright lobelia, Ivy geraniums, Marigolds,Upright petunias
- Candidates for Shade:Fibrous begonias,Upright lobelia, Impatiens (traditional and New Guinea), Ivy geraniums
Hanging Basket Spillers
- Flowering candidates for Sun:Bacopa, Bidens, Brachycome, Calibrachoa, Ivy Geraniums, Trailing Lobelia, Sanvitalia, Scaevola, Supertunias, Thunbergia, Verbena
- Flowering candidates for Shade: Bacopa, Brachycome, Fuchsias, Trailing Lobelia, Nemesia,Torrenia
Don’t forget the Foliage!
Balancing flowering with foliage plants will make for a more interesting, textured baskets and will help pull aspects of the container together.
- Foliage Spiller candidates for Sun: Helichrysum, Lysimachia, Nepeta, Sweet Potato Vine and/or Tradescantia z. (Wandering Jew)
- Foliage Spiller candidates for Shade: Creeping Jenny, Nepeta, Trailing ivy,Tradescantia z. (Wandering Jew)
How many plants?
Remember, your plants are going to get bigger, so give them room to grow! As a rule of thumb we would recommend:
- 12” Baskets: One 4” potted plant in the center as a Thriller, three 2½” potted plants as Fillers, and three 2½” potted plants as Spillers.
- 14” Wooden Rectangular Baskets: one 4” potted plant in the center as a Thriller, four 2½” potted plants as Fillers, and six 2½” potted plants as Spillers.
- 14” Moss Basket: For the top planting, one 4” potted plant in the center as a Thriller, three to four 2½” potted plants as Fillers, and three 2½” potted plants as Spillers. Around the sides, stagger 2½” potted plants in alternating layers, planting a side, then turning the basket slightly to plant the next side and so on. Stagger them too so that the Spillers on the top layer are in the gaps of the side planting.
For all baskets, you can use larger plants to ‘speed things along’ if you would like, i.e. 6” pots for 4” and 4” for 2½”.
Remember the colour wheel!
- Monochromatic colours: Are different values within the same colour, such as pale blue, blue and deep blue. Gives a soft, romantic look.
- Analogous colours: Are colours adjacent to each other on the wheel. Gives a similar effect as monochromatic but with more depth.
- Complementary colours: Are colours opposite each other on the wheel. They ‘strengthen’ each other and really pop. This is your drama combo!
A Classic Sun Basket might generally contain: Geraniums, Ivy Geraniums, Nepeta, Nemesia, Bacopa, Thunbergia, Supertunias, Verbena
A Classic Shade Basket might generally contain: Bacopa, Ivy Geraniums, Fuchsias, Impatiens, Nepeta, Creeping Jenny, Lobelia, Bacopa, Nemesia
Looking for a bit of colour direction? Inspiration can be found in a number of places like Pinterest, home décor and paint sites and more! Here are a few suggestions:
- Citrus Bliss: chartreuse, yellow, orange and hot pink.
- Flame Thrower: Bright red, dark orange and golden yellow.
- Elegant White: White and silver too!
- Dramarama: Dark burgundy and black foliage and blooms.
- Blue Ocean: Different shades of blues, blue-green and silver.
- Pretty in Pink: Different shades of pink with a touch of white to balance.
- Cool Breeze: Cool tones including purple, blue and pink
- Jester: Jewel tones of golden yellow, royal purple, hot pink and dark green.
- Domino: Black and white!
- Colour of the Year: The 2019 Pantone Colour of the Year is ‘Living Coral’ so if you want to really be on trend, include coral tones! Geraniums, verbena, petunias, diascia and impatiens come in coral, so consider adding a few of them.