Sometimes I think Summer driving is just as, if not more, perilous than Winter driving.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but law, common sense, and courtesy are thrown out the proverbial window along with a middle finger or two.  I’d like to blame it solely on road construction, which isn’t far-fetched in Illinois.  After all, you really know it’s Summer when your commute consists entirely of saw horses, flag men, and an additional 20 minute ride, with gas close to $4.00/gallon.  Maybe it’s a sign of my age.  Maybe it’s the heat.  Maybe it’s the smell of tar and oil that turns drivers into menacing, self-serving morons.  Whatever the reason, tread carefully and cautiously.

We’ve all purchased hanging baskets from our local garden center or even local grocery store.  Sure, they’re ok, but they tend to be very limiting in the sense of plant types, colors, and styles, so why not make your own?  Hanging baskets aren’t much different from container plantings, except they’re suspended and add great visual, vertical appeal.

  Step 1

Choose a container.  You’ll want to use plastic, wood, or wire.  The former two are solid and can be easily filled with soil and plants while the latter will require some type of liner – in the form of moss or a pre-formed liner made out of coir (coconut fiber), plastic, or pressed paperboard.

  Step 2

Before you add soil or plants, decide where you’d like to hang the basket.  This will help you determine the best plants to choose based on light exposure (i.e. full sun, partial sun, partial shade, full shade).  Once you know this, you can then select plants that will thrive in the existing light conditions.

  Step 3

Choose your plants based on where your hanging basket will reside.  This is when you can get really creative.  You don’t have to choose a single variety or single color.  You can fill the basket with several different varieties for added drama, color, interest, and visual appeal.  Just make sure the plants all have the same light requirements.  Consider adding plants that have varying heights and bloom sizes, and plants that trail and cascade over the sides.  Herbs are also excellent choices.  Just be sure they have similar light and watering requirements.

  Step 4

Add soil.  Some recommend a lightweight potting mix be used.  Fill to 1-2″ below the rim.

  Step 5

Plant your basket.  If using a variety of plants, place the taller plants near the middle, trailing plants near the sides, and shorter plants between the two.  Fill the basket for best results, and remember, it will be visible from all sides, so try to plant evenly.

  Step 6

After you have planted, water thoroughly.  If the weather is particularly hot, you may need to water daily.  If you’re not sure, simply lift the basket.  The lighter the basket, the drier the soil.

  Step 7

Hang ’em high.  Baskets can be hung on brackets, shepherd’s hooks, or whatever you have available that’s stable and safe.

Give your garden, patio, deck, walkway, or entryway an added boost of visual, vertical appeal by creating your own hanging baskets in your own container.  Get creative, think outside the box, and you’ll most likely never purchase a pre-made, pre-planted hanging basket again.

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.”

-Dave Barry

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney