Join the ‘easy-fill’ revolution with hanging baskets that need less water

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One of the most popular containers for summer flowering plants is a hanging basket, and if you are the type of gardener who likes to fill them yourself, then you will know all about how difficult it can sometimes be to get them planted up successfully.

Baskets come in various materials. The wire ones have to be either lined with moss or have to be used in conjunction with a specially-shaped fibre of coco liner.

There are baskets of thin but quite strong plastic with slits in the side to insert plants, others are made of rattan and a rope/fern combination. With any of the types mentioned, getting young plants around the basket can be difficult witout damaging them. They have to be pushed through the small slits or moss, and as for the other linings, you can’t have plants around the sides. If only the top is planted with trailing plants they might not cover the entire basket and not be 100 per cent effective.

A revolutionary new type is now on the market termed ‘easy-fill’ basked with removable side panels for the insertion of plants. Made from a rust and rot-proof material, there is a built-in water reservoir, so requiring less watering than conventional baskets.

They are also much kinder to young plants because of the unique way they are inserted. Rather than the normal method of planting by pushing each plant through from the inside, the lattice panels are removed, the plants inserted from the outside and then each panel is simply slid into place over the plants, holding them in place with no damage to either the foliage or the roots.

The baskets come in various sizes, with between six and 12 removable panels. There’s also another unique feature: they have a flat base for easy planting, unlike the conventional types which, with round bottoms, are difficult to keep steady when filling and with a risk of damaging plants already in place. One drawback, however, they appear to be only available from mail order firms and the internet.

Plants for hanging baskets are a matter of personal choice but, of course, they must be trailing varieties and one of the best is Apricot Shades, a cascading begonia that produces a spectacular show.