Going up!

When there’s little or no room left in the ground it’s time to grow vertical and put your gardening efforts ‘upwards’ by planting walls and filling air space with arches and pergolas dripping with climbers. You can also wake up bare walls and instantly change the look of your house and outbuildings with trendy wall planters and colourful hanging baskets. And unlike with most other containers you don’t even need a patio or garden with room to swing a cat to grow them.

Hanging baskets can even be squeezed into any unplanted airspace with the help of a post and bracket or pergola

To achieve a stunning display, make sure that baskets are bulging with low bushy and trailing plants, as only a well-filled basket overflowing with colour will make a bold statement

To make your own, sit the basket on top of the bucket or pot to give a stable work area. Fill with compost that has water-retaining gel and slow release fertilizer added. Pack in the plants, allowing space in-between for them to fill out and allow a few centimetres at the top of the compost for watering.

Cone-shaped rattan baskets are very popular and perfect for trailing petunias

They have a plastic liner for retaining water, which also insulates the plant roots against the wind and sun, so they retain water better. The only downside of these baskets, is that you cannot plant through the sides of them.

Annuals are the most popular flowers for summer baskets, the best being those that trail or form neat mounds and that have a long flowering season. Brightly coloured mixed plantings are the most popular, but single colours, or simple combinations of two complementary shades can also look very effective. Don’t forget to take into account the colour of the wall the basket will hang on. Red flowers could clash with red brickwork and white flowers won’t show up well against a white wall!

Plant your own

If you have a well-lit porch or greenhouse, make summer baskets in early April to allow plants to settle and spread before they are put outside after the frosts.

Pack plenty of plants in for a more impressive effect and when choosing flowers, pick those with a long flowering season to avoid the need to replant, and avoid any that grow too tall. Upright plants, such as fuchsias and pelargoniums can be chosen for the top of the basket, but for the sides and edges compact or trailing plants are best.

Trailing ivy-leaf pelargoniums are perfect for hanging baskets and if you get into the habit of regularly pinch out the growing tips, your actions will encourage a bushy, trailing habit.

For something unusual try the Fire Vine, Lotus berthelotii, which has red parrot bill blooms on long trails of feathery silver foliage. Grow it in full sun and from early summer the blooms will begin to appear in pairs

The super fast hardy annual, nasturtiums, which come in a range of amazing hot tropical colours such as red, yellow and orange as well as cream and peach shades is easy to grow from seed.

For an explosion of colour in hanging baskets and patio pots, Petunia and trailing Surfinia will flower all summer long. Spilling over the edges of containers, they create the most wonderful displays that will brighten up your home and garden

Tumbelina, Million Bells, Easy Wave and Surfinias are just some of the types of trailing petunias that are guaranteed to pack a punch on the patio. They come in a range of vibrant colours and with single, double or bi-coloured fragrant blooms.

Summer pansies will pack a punch from May to September in sun or semi-shade and the trailing types, which come in white, blue and yellow will produce a mass of tiny blooms on stems up to 1.2m long.

Sweet Pea Cupid Mix has a dwarf, bush-type habit that makes it ideal for hanging baskets, tubs and patio containers in sheltered, shaded situations. 
Unlike the better-known climbing type, Cupid forms a compact mound 15cm tall by 30 to 45cm wide. Plants are covered with 2 to 3cm flowers in a multitude of colours from the series.

Neat varieties like Busy Lizzies or impatiens will create a globe of solid colour that will last right through the summer months and until the frosts bite

As well as white, pinks, oranges, reds and purples, Busy Lizzies come in solid colours and variegated shades. The plants like shade, so are useful for bringing cheer to gloomy areas of the garden, and especially spots where the sun disappears in the afternoon. They are also gluttons for water and need feeding every 10-14 days to keep them healthy and productive.

Fan shaped foliage on silver stems makes drought-tolerant, Dichondra Silver Falls one of the best trailing plants for creating a waterfall effect in on a hot sunny wall.

For stylish designer looks colour-theme your patio planting schemes. Orange is guaranteed to attract attention and looks stunning in sunshine, so is a good choice to give your house, kerb-appeal

Wall planters

Wall planters are even easier and bang on trend. They allow you to create stylish living walls both indoors and outside. For example, individual planters can be mounted on a wall using Spanish rings just like you’d hang framed pictures or paintings to create a gallery display.

Or you could make shelves to show off your entire collection. You don’t have to be limited by your DIY skills if you choose to recycle and fix a few fruit or beer crates to the wall so that they become shelves.

Be inspired by this wreath of living succulents made by thegreenhead.com

And if you’re a bit more adventurous consider screwing a selection of large, shallow dishes, trays or wicker baskets in a stylish arrangement on the wall. It’s best to plant your containers whilst they are flat on the ground and carefully arrange a selection of mini succulent houseleeks or evergreen ferns so that when the container is full it looks like a painting!

You can secure plants to a frame by planting through chicken wire that’s fixed over landscape fabric 

It is best to leave planter horizontal for few weeks so your plants have time to take root. This will allow the plant roots to lock tightly with compost and help prevent soil spillage when you hang your display upright.

As vertical greening has become more popular and more ambitious you’ll find that there is increased range of planters become available that have been purposely designed to create that leafy look you’re after whilst allowing for watering and drainage.

Wally Planters from woollypocket.co.uk for example are modules with self-watering tanks that simply stack neatly and efficiently together. They are easily fixed to an inside or outside wall with a purpose-made sliding bracket

Burgon and Ball sell hand-watered Verti-Plant Pockets – a style that’s similar to many others on the market but they offer them in 5 different trendy colours: Chestnut; Aubergine; Strawberry; Lavender and Blosom

treebox.co.uk offer a modular design for you to create a vertical allotment with optional self-watering. Easiwall panels start at 1m tall and can be linked together to cover a large expanse of bare wall

Care tips

Don’t forget that a fully potted and watered hanging basket is HEAVY! Your hooks need to be strong and attached firmly in order to avoid any injuries.

Although it may be tempting to hang a basket in a constantly sunny position this could double its watering requirements, and it may be better to position it where it won’t be in the strong afternoon sun.

Make sure the basket is easily accessible for watering or invest in a pulley system or suitable watering device if you don’t want to spend half your time up a ladder with a heavy watering can!

With the Hozelock Water Hose Sprayer, you can transform the spray into an effective hanging basket watering device to those hard-to-reach areas

With a large number of plants in a relatively small amount of compost, they will also need regular feeding through the growing season. The simplest way to do this is to incorporate controlled release fertilizer tablets in the compost at planting time.

Once flowers start to form, boost the plants by feeding them every two to four weeks. Use a weak solution of a potash-rich liquid tomato fertilizer and you’ll be rewarded with masses of flowers throughout the summer.

Turn the basket occasionally to encourage even plant growth.

You can keep tender perennial plants from year to year or build up a collection by taking cuttings during the summer but as they are not hardy it will need to be moved to a frost-free place during winter.

It is often assumed that baskets are just for summer, but if you can provide a sheltered position away from the worst of the weather, you can make attractive displays at any time of year. Even in winter attractive baskets can be made with winter pansies and heathers along with variegated ivies and even small shrubs


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