FOR ME, summer holidays always started with a journey across The Solent to stay with family on the Isle of Wight, which at that time in the 1990’s seemed quaintly old fashioned, twenty years behind the rest of the UK.
My family lived in Ventnor, on the South of the island, sitting at the foot of St Boniface, in its own micro-climate.
With the best sunshine record in the UK, the small town’s botanical gardens were full of exotic plants and flowers.
I was always struck by the hanging baskets that brought colour to every corner of Ventnor, in particular one tea room, which every year managed to surpass its previous efforts, with it’ vibrant displays.
Hanging baskets have gone out of fashion a little over the years, but they are a fabulous way of bringing height to your garden or terrace and quite easy to look after.
Many flowers suitable for hanging baskets are pendulous, top heavy, or creeping, which makes them look lovely when displayed from a container at eye level or higher.
Here are some tips on the right flowers to include in your hanging baskets to create your own piece of the Isle of Wight in the sun.
For those who don’t have the right climate to grow fussy fuchsias, begonias can act as a plant double. The half-hardy Begonia boliviensis has the same tubular, pendulous flowers as fuchsias, but can handle the heat and humidity of Southern summers.
Black Eye Susan Vine:
Not many vines flourish in a hanging basket, but thunbergia has the right combination of exuberance and restraint that makes it a showy container plant.
The annual vines will scramble up the chains of the hanging basket as well as spill over the sides, sporting one-inch flowers in white and gold shades.
Although fuchsia plants do tend to wither in summer weather, you can look for one of the more heat tolerant varieties like ‘Astoria,’ ‘Jupiter,’ or ‘Surprise.’
A little fuss will prolong the beauty of fuchsias in hanging baskets: the plants respond well to daily misting, regular fertilizing, and diligent deadheading.
The vibrant flower clusters of lantana provide reliable tropical color for a long growing season, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Choose a small weeping variety for your hanging baskets like the yellow and white ‘Patriot Popcorn’ or the yellow, pink, and orange ‘Patriot Rainbow.’
It’s best to think of lobelia erinus as a seasonal plant for early spring, as it thrives in moderate temperatures.
Your hanging basket will be covered with a mass of electric blue flowers and contrasting white throats that appeal to butterflies.
At the end of June, don’t waste any time trying to coddle the plants; replace them with million bells, lantana, or another heat-loving plant.
This cousin of the petunia won’t tucker out when the temperatures rise. Million bells produce little or no seed and don’t require deadheading to stay in bloom.
All they need is moist soil and a full day of sun to keep your hanging baskets vibrant.
You may know these by the more common name of geranium, but pelargoniums are annuals, while true geraniums are hardy perennials.
The bold texture, bright colors, and trailing habit of pelargoniums make them ideal for hanging baskets. Deadheading is necessary to keep the plants blooming until frost.
Petunias have always been a classic favorite for hanging baskets, but some gardeners have given up on them after struggling with plants bedraggled by disease and rainstorms.
Try millifloras which bloom continuously without the need for pinching, or multifloras, which perform in hot, wet summers.
Place portulaca, or moss rose, in a site where it will receive sun for most of the day. When the plant sits in shade, its flowers will close up.
Pair moss rose with other heat-loving, drought tolerant plants like wandering Jew, which will provide color between blooming cycles.
Sitting near a sweet alyssum hanging basket is like being in the presence of a fragrant cloud. These flowers have a strong honey scent that attracts butterflies and bees.
The appealing trailing habit of sweet alyssum can turn shaggy as the season progresses, so don’t be afraid to reinvigorate it with a summer haircut.