Gardening advice: Here's how to get the best out of your hanging baskets

Hanging baskets look great if done and maintained properly

1. Choose the right materials and plants: Go for the biggest basket you can, as this will hold more compost and require slightly less watering than smaller baskets. Metal-framed baskets are ideal, but you will have to line them. Water-retaining liners include coir and sphagnum moss, although you can even cut up an old woolly jumper to line a basket.

2. Make a reservoir: Cut a small circle of plastic from your compost bag to make a reservoir in the bottom of your liner, to hold just enough water to keep the compost moist, while still allowing free drainage at the sides.

3. Add your compost: Multipurpose compost, preferably the sort which has added plant food, is ideal, although you will still have to feed your basket plants during the summer, as nutrients will be washed away when watering. When you reach the top of the basket, firm the compost down so there are no air holes.

4. Choose your plants: If you want your basket to be admired from all sides, choose one larger plant to put in the centre, such as an upright fuchsia or geranium, and select around five other plants to place around it. These could range from trailing petunias and calibrachoa, to bacopa, lobelia, nemesia, diascia and helichrysum.

5. Position the tall and the small: Try positioning your chosen plants on top of the compost before planting, so you can decide which looks best where. Usually the tallest plant will go in the centre, surrounded by the lower trailers.

6. Hang it up: Hang up your basket on a wall bracket or other hook or frame – make sure your bracket is secured tightly and is strong enough to take the weight.

7. Be waterwise: Water your basket well using a watering can rose. That way, the water will seep into the compost to reach your plants, rather than running straight through it.

8. Keep it healthy: Keep your basket well watered. In the height of summer you'll need to do it twice a day, morning and evening. Feed your basket bedding plants regularly with either plant food or tomato food.

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