Gather your supplies:
1/3 bag of sphagnum moss (Don’t confuse sphagnum moss with sphagnum peat moss. They are not the same product. Sphagnum moss is the LIVING moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog or in the forests. I buy it for about $17/bag at the garden store and one bag will line three large wire baskets.)
1 sturdy wire hanging basket
potting soil (we use high porosity soil)
1/4 cup pelleted slow release fertilizer (we use Plant-Prod Nutricote 13, 13, 13 with trace elements)
1 tinfoil pie plate
70 bedding plants (the best bets are trailing petunias and/or bacopa for sunny, hot locations and impatiens for shady, cool locations. TIP: stay away from lobelia — one missed watering and it’s gone.)
Line the bottom of the basket and about the first 4 inches up the sides with wet moss. Press it into place by the handful like lining a pie pan with pastry. Nestle the tinfoil plate in the bottom, on top of the moss (to keep the water from running out the bottom).
Mix half the fertilizer (1/8 c) into the potting soil and fill the basket up to the level of the moss. Insert a row of bedding plants — poke the root ball through the opening in the wire and lay it horizontally on the moss so the root ball is laying on the soil and the stem and flowers are outside the basket. You will need about 6 – 8 plants per row. Leave a few inches between plants. Stack another 4-inch layer of moss around the edge of the basket and fill it with potting soil up to the new level.(it’s like building a multi-layer dessert, one layer at a time) Tamp down the soil after each addition. Add another layer of flowers, staggering them so that they are placed between the ones in the level below. Use this zigzag placement all the way to the top until the sides of the basket are filled with flowers. Your last row is planted around the top edge and then the middle of the top is filled in as well.
Remember these baskets are viewed from the bottom since they are usually hanging above eye level so be sure there are lots of flowers in the sides.
Another 1/8 cup slow release fertilizer can be sprinkled on the soil in the top when you are finished planting. Give the basket a thorough soaking and hang it indoors in a sunny spot. Turn it every few days so it gets sun on all sides. Make sure you build your hanging basket about 4 weeks before you plan to hang it outside. To prevent the plants from getting too leggy and flimsy, prune them back at least once or twice so they branch out and get bushier. Stop pruning 2 weeks before hanging outside so it has time to bloom. Hang it outside after the last danger of frost — where I live that is June 15!
A hanging basket needs plenty of water every single day. Thoroughly soak it. We water our baskets with a computerized irrigation system — a spaghetti tube is anchored in the middle of the basket with a tiny sprinkler head that has a spray radius of about 6 – 8 inches. During July and August the baskets are watered 3 x’s/day for 3 minutes. Never miss a day or you will lose flowers. Feed weekly with a soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro for blooms.
Baskets like this can cost about $150 ready-to-hang but you can make them for less than half that even if you have to buy all your bedding plants. We grow our own bedding plants from seed or cuttings so the cost is minimal. The baskets are a one-time expense because you can reuse them for many years if you buy a sturdy model with heavy chain.
If you have any further questions about anything to do with hanging flower baskets, use the comment section. Have fun and enjoy the beauty of the blooms!