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How to plant a hanging basket

By: Stephanie Polsley Bruner
Growing plants in a hanging basket isn’t difficult. But follow these simple tips to make sure you get the best out of your basket.

Planting a hanging basket isn’t so different from planting a regular container. But because they are often shallower than standing pots, and are placed in different locations, they have slightly different needs. Here are a few tips to help you plant them up.


Line the frame

First, you need a frame and a liner. Two popular lining options are coconut-fiber liners or long-fiber sphagnum moss. Coconut-fiber liners are preshaped and come in different sizes. They’re quick and easy, and can be reused for several years. Sphagnum moss gives a softer, more rustic look. You can buy it loose in bags or as preformed liners. If you use loose moss, you’ll have to dampen it and pack it into place. Preformed liners just need to be moistened to plump up. The photo above shows the natural look of sphagnum moss.

Hanging baskets dry out quickly. To slow this down, punch holes in a piece of plastic, like the white garbage can liner in the photo. Use it to line the basket before you add potting mix. The plastic will prevent the basket’s liner from leaching water from the potting mix too quickly. Another idea is to tuck a plastic hanging basket inside a moss-lined one, and use mulch to hide the edge of the plastic pot.

Fill it with the right mix

Once your plastic liner is in place, fill the basket with potting mix, a layer of water-absorbing crystals and slow-release fertilizer. Be sure to keep the crystals a few inches below the potting mix’s surface — if they’re too close to the top, they can expand right out of the container. You can also stir the crystals through the potting mix, if you prefer. Another option is to mix a few scoops of compost into the lightweight potting mix. It helps absorb and hold moisture better and adds nutrients to the soil. But it makes baskets a little heavier, so if weight is a concern, just stick to the moisture crystals.

Water it well

Even with these precautions, you’ll still need to water your baskets often, especially during hot weather. Don’t fill the baskets to the top with soil — leave an inch or two of space to allow water to soak in, instead of running off the surface. Finally, finish off your hanging basket with a layer of mulch, to help retain more moisture and prevent precious water from splashing out and all over you. Your container will stay moist and look tidy.


You can find a lot of products at your local garden center that that make watering and caring for a hanging basket easier. This pulley is a great solution to lifting heavy watering cans or reaching with a hose. With the pulley in place, just lower the basket for watering, then lift it back up into place. If you'd like this product, it’s available at our Garden Gate online store!

Published: May 15, 2018

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