Hanging baskets are a staple for spring. Before the earth is warm enough to plant, hanging baskets can be enjoyed and often kickstart the gardening season. Pre-planted hanging baskets are readily available for purchase, or you can build your own by choosing elements that will suit your needs. Whether you’re creating a show for an upcoming holiday or event, or just expressing yourself horticulturally, we’ll take a look at the basics that you’ll need.

Choosing a container:

Choosing the right container for your hanging basket doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Probably the most important element to look for is something with drainage holes or something that you can make drainage holes in. Next, find something that is large enough to accommodate the plant choices you’ve made. You don’t want your plants overcrowded, nor do you want them too spread out. Keep in mind, you will need something deep enough to allow for plenty of soil, and wide enough to allow the roots to spread out.

Look for containers that speak to you and your decorating style. If you’re style reflects rusty finds, then an old rusty bucket could do the trick. If a more formal approach is intended, look for plastic pots that reflect the elegant style you’re after.

Choosing plants:

When choosing plants for your hanging basket, look for those that cascade nicely. Some plants offer long cascades while others are shorter by nature. Choose a variety that will suit your style.

If you’re looking for a casual or romantic display, choose soft colors and whites. Pinks, lavenders, pale yellows and whites are a great combination to take springtime all the way through the summer, while pink and white are a classic romantic style.

Making a bold statement? Try a combination of bright yellows, oranges and reds, throw in a bit of purple and you have a statement! Planted in a brightly colored vessel, this combination will make your hanging baskets pop all season.

For a more dramatic display, choose 3 or more plants of the same variety and color. Look for a bright color that will show itself off such as red, yellow or purple. Choosing long cascading plants will add to the dramatic effect as well.

Choose plants that will withstand the wind and heat and take into consideration what kind of sun exposure is in the area that the basket will be displayed (see below).


Soil is one of the most important aspects of a hanging basket. Your plants will need good drainage and lots of nutrients to thrive throughout the summer. Bagged potting soil comes in a variety of types and offers fresh nutrients for your plants.

Watering and Care:

Be sure to water your hanging basket often as they will dry out quicker than potted plants due to drainage, air circulation and wind. You can check to see when your basket needs watering by sticking your index finger into the soil about a half of an inch deep. If it feels moist to dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist to soggy, let it go and check tomorrow. It’s not unusual for hanging baskets to need a drink daily, and as summer heats up, they will most likely need a good watering every day.

Sun Exposure. Here’s a handy guide to sun exposures:

Full Sun-means at least 6 full hours of direct, unfiltered sun per day. Plants that require full sun may enjoy the rays, but be sure to water often during the hot months to keep them cool.

Part Sun/Part Shade-Plants requiring partial sun or partial shade prefer 4-6 hours of morning or early afternoon sun but will not tolerate the intense hot afternoon sun. Planting on the east side of a building or tree will provide relief to these plants.

Dappled/Filtered Sun-is the sun that is filtered through the branches of deciduous trees or structure. Woodland plants prefer this type of sunlight.

Full Shade-is for plants that can only tolerate up to 3 hours of direct sunlight per day. They prefer filtered/or dappled sunlight such as described above. These plants will do well under the protection of a large tree or on a porch. Full Shade may also be referred to as indirect sun, where the plant will benefit from full light, but not direct sun.