Choose a large basket
A larger basket will help to retain moisture as well as allowing space for root growth. The downside of a larger basket that it will be heavier so ensure hanging hooks and brackets are firmly fixed and always get assistance with lifting.
Use premium potting mix
Potting mix that incorporates slow-release fertiliser, a wetting agent and water-retaining crystals will help your plants thrive. If using a wire basket with a coir insert, line it with a thick layer of newspaper to allow drainage while insulating from the drying sun. If you're planting succulents or cacti, add 1/3 sand to the mix.
Select plants with similar needs
If you’re grouping plants together in the same container, make sure they all have the same sun and water requirements.
Use filler plants
A full basket always looks more attractive, If you're planting a young perennial plant, fill the empty space with small annuals. As the perennial plant grows to fill the basket, you can gradually remove the annuals.
Keep your basket steady while planting
To stop your basket rolling around while you're planting it, place it on top of a bucket so the curved bottom fits partway inside. Fill the bucket with sand or soil first so that it won't topple over once the heavy basket of plants is on top.
Great for herbs too
Herbs and lettuces do really well in hanging baskets. Drought-tolerant Mediterranean herbs are particularly well suited. Place them in a convenient location that's visible from the kitchen so they are not forgotten about.
Location is key
The beauty of any container plant is that it can repositioned to obtain optimal sun or shade for its growing preference. Baskets on hooks should be turned weekly to allow each side even sun exposure. Any plants that are not thriving despite your best efforts should be moved to a different spot where they might fare better. Avoid exposure to wind as this will dry the soil out even faster as well as damaging delicate plants.
Move baskets before watering so they are not as heavy.
Depending upon your choice of plant you may need to water daily in very hot weather. If you have reticulation, attach a dripper line above your hanging basket and let it do most of the work for you. If the basket has dried out completely, take it down and submerge it in water up to the top of the soil level. Leave for an hour or two then let it drain well before rehanging.
Place other container plants below hanging baskets to catch any excess water rather than having it drip onto bare paving or concrete. You can also create tiered hanging baskets by hanging one basket from the bottom of another. The basket below will catch the excess water from the top.
Use a soluble fertitiser
Give hungry plants a half-strength dose of soluble fertiliser every couple of weeks to give them a boost. Add the fertiliser after watering and avoid getting it on the foliage.
Remove dead flower heads and stim leggy stems to encourage lush, lateral growth and keep your basket looking great.
Popular choices for baskets
Classic choices for maximum colour include Calibrachoa, Fuschia, Geranium, Lobelia, Pansy, Petunia, Vinca. Dwarf Bougainvillea is also a good choice, keep it trimmed to shape.
Native groundcovers look great trailing over the sides of baskets. There's plenty available to choose from - try Scaevola, Convovulus, Dampiera diversifolia.
Mediterranean herbs like Mint, Oregano and Thyme are well suited and very useful in the kitchen. Keep them trimmed to encourage constant new growth.
These plants have lower water and fertilisation requirements so they are a good choice for the more forgetful gardener. Look for Chain of Hearts, Zygocactus, Portulaca, Rhipsalis (Mistletoe Cactus), Aeschynanthus (Lipstick Plant), Rhipsalidopsis (Spring Cactus).
Group together for variety in leaf shape and texture. Plant out in a shady spot in the garden once they out-grow the basket.