As we approach late September and Early October the summer bedding that we used to make up our Hanging Baskets and Patio Planters begins to look very sad. It is time to put on there Winter finery with winter hanging baskets.
There is a wide selection of Winter Hardy flowering plants that can be used in Baskets and Tubs. Over the last few years the Plant Breeders have developed some superb new strains of our old favourites. We now have hardy cyclamen that will put up with the worst a British Winter can throw at them. New pansy and Viola varieties that not only brighten our Winter days, but will carry on to delight us with endless colour well into the following Summer. I often here people say that they were quite reluctant to pull them out to make room for their Summer Bedding!
In addition to flowering plants there are also quite a number of foliage plants to add to the palette. Bright yellow and Silver leaved Ivies to trail over the sides; young Conifer plants like the bright golden Cupressus Macrocarpa Wilma , or even baby Chamaecyparis varieties like Ellwoods Green, Columnaris Glauca – a lovely blue foliage variety – and Erecta Viridis a bright green variety, all of which are ideal as centre piece plants.
Bright berries can also be added to the mix in the form of Skimmia Reevesiana , deep red large berries which always last right through the winter. Pernettya Mucronata a prickly little shrub that is covered with berries varying in shades of white, pink, red and purple .
All of the conifers and shrubs I have mentioned above will have a good life after they have done their job in brightening up your winter. They can all be planted out in the garden afterwards and will grow ever onwards.
Prepare your Winter Hanging Basket
Preparation of your Winter Hanging Basket, or Container is most important. Preparing Summer baskets is all about conserving moisture in the compost, the reverse is true for Winter containers. The compost you use must be open and free draining; as you will be all too aware it rains an awful lot in a British winter so watering is not a problem! If you use a peat based compost add a good dollop of course grit, if you are using a soil based compost like John Innes Number 3 then try and add a small amount of drainage material like Vermiculite or some broken up polystyrene. Mix in some slow release fertilizer to the compost – Osmacote Exact is ideal for this purpose.
Line the basket with your chosen material ; plastic, moss, or fibre and then gently firm in the compost. With Summer baskets you need to leave about 5 centimetres from the top to make watering easier, with winter baskets you can fill them to nearly the top.
Planting your Winter Hanging Basket
When it comes to planting your chosen plants put them in firmly but gently; don’t try and force or ram them in. They will need a little breathing space in order to make some new root and must not get too water-logged.
Before you buy your plants make sure you have chosen a balanced selection of structure and colour; visit several Garden Centres or Nurseries if you need to in order to get it right.
Finally, regarding actually placing the plants in the Hanging Basket ; the old practice was to try and put plants in the side of the basket, this is a very tricky thing to do , and modern practice is to just plant the top only but use some plants that will trail over and cover the sides. In the case of Winter Baskets I would suggest Ivies are the perfect answer.