Last updated on September 13th, 2021
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As the season’s change and your existing summer bedding plants die off, your search begins for the best winter plants to refill your summer hanging baskets with plants that will keep going throughout winter. There are very few that will make it through the winter, so you won’t have as many options as you did for your spring and summer baskets, but there are still some great basket plants that will winter weather with the likes of winter pansies flowering right the way through until spring along with some miniature bulbs that will push through in spring.
To see out top recommendations read on as we show you some of our favourite plants for winter hanging baskets.
Hedra helix – Trailing Ivy
Most people don’t recommend growing ivy in the garden because it will quickly take over and can cause structural damage if it crawls up your house. However, in a hanging basket, it’s the perfect winter plant because it’s contained. You can enjoy the bulking foliage as it drops out the side of your hanging basket. It’ll add a delightful summer feel with bright green to your otherwise dull backdrop. Ivy is usually available from most garden centres and nurseries later in the season in small pots, the great thing about ivy is that you can split a pot into 3-4 pieces and spread it equally around the edge of your basket. After winter, you can either transfer to your summer baskets or even consider using it in an indoor basket.
Winter pansies will not stop flowering so if you deadhead them throughout the winter you can encourage additional flowers and they look so stunning and are one of the only plants that will flower continuously throughout winter. You can also cut them back as soon as you see any of the offshoots becoming straggly or limp. They won’t grow very fast in the winter so you’ll want to pack them closely together in order to get the best effect. Most of these varieties will flower from October all the way until spring so plant them in your winter hanging baskets early. They are best planted a little easier so they can get their roots established and put on some growth before winter, around September is probably a good time.
Hardy Cyclamen (cyclamen coum, hederifolium and purpurascens)
This is a flowering perennial that produces white, red, and pink coloured flowers with detailed leaves. They do you prefer some shade and once they are done with the hanging basket you can move them directly into your garden and start your springtime flowers concurrently. They also grow well under trees and hedges so need not to be waisted after winter.
Hardy Cyclamen varieties include cyclamen coum, Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens. They usually have the smaller flowers are not to be mixed up with the larger flowered varieties that will not survive the winter and are usually used as house plants.
You can get a splash of colour even in the cold winter by getting the Primroses also known as prims and primulas. These are non-trailing flowers and they won’t grow very tall but they do make a delightful display. If you plant the hardy primroses you should place them on the side of your basket so that they give a better display. Conversely, you can fill the entire basket with them to create a sort of ball with bursting colour in every space you have available. They will flower in autumn, a little through winter but not as prolific as pansies but they will burst into colour in early spring. These to can be removed in spring and replanted.
If you want colour early on in the season, you can plant bulbs like snowdrops in your basket. If you want colours later in the season you can try mini daffodils such as tete-tete or mini tulips. The best part is once your basket is finished you can move your bulbs into your garden directly. Our favourite is using miniature daffodils because some of the other bulbs such as crocus don’t last as long when in flower. Miniature daffodils are just fantastic.
Prepare the Baskets
Now that you have the flowers selected, it is time to prepare the basket. Your baskets should be displayed with a liner to protect the roots of your winter plants and prevent your soil from being washed away.
The growing medium you choose should offer good drainage. A multi-purpose compost should work well to absorb water quickly and drain well, both of which will keep the flowers healthy without drowning them. Add some slow-release food into the mixture when you prepare the basket.
Avoid feeding throughout the winter. You can add the slow-release food at the beginning but don’t add more. Make sure that the soil is free draining and doesn’t get frozen or waterlogged. No matter which of these plants you choose, plant them much closer together than you would with a summer display as growth is not as vigorous. Avoid lots of gaps because the plants will grow modestly best with winter conditions.