Getting Creative & Saving Money on Hanging Baskets

40-60 Minutes
Creative plant combinations and ways to stretch your money when you put together your own hanging baskets and container plantings.
Last year I ran out of money before I had a chance to fill the last of my hanging baskets and containers. The baskets on the back fence sat empty and forlorn all summer. Determined to better this year, I decided to get creative and find ways to stretch my money.
If I had a greenhouse, grow lights or even a bright window, I might try growing my own annuals, but I have none of these things. The one decent window ledge in our house is already crammed with houseplants. 
In many of the gardens I visited last summer, I saw container plantings in which houseplants had been used to great effect.
Why not let some of my houseplants do double-duty and spend the summer outdoors? Then in the fall, I can bring them back inside or I can take cuttings.
A few logistics. I find water can run right through some coconut liners, so I usually cut an extra piece of liner (you can buy a roll of coconut liner at most garden centres) and place it at the bottom of my wire baskets before I fill them with potting soil. 

To fill my hanging baskets, I used this moisture control potting mix which I hope will see my plants through the dry days of mid-summer. This potting mix feeds the plants as well. If you are using a regular potting mix, it a good idea to add a little slow release fertilizer to the soil before planting.
Here's my first hanging basket using a mix of houseplants I had on hand with a few annuals I purchased:
1. Fuchsia 2. Boston Fern, Nephrolepis 'Fluffy Ruffles'  3. Variegated Ivy 4. Annual Lobelia 5. Trailing green vine (sorry couldn't find a name for this one)

If you don't have any houseplants, why not invest in some now? Clean them up in the fall and bring them indoors for the winter. Then next spring use those same houseplants to help fill your containers and hanging baskets.
As well as using houseplants, I decided to be creative and use herbs. I chose mostly Mediterranean herbs that can take a bit of heat and even a little drought.
1. Sage, Salvia Officinalis  2. Rue, Ruta graveolens 3. Tricolor Sage, Salvia Officinalis 'Tricolor'  4. Silver Thyme, Thymus vulgaris 5. Golden Lemon Thyme, Thymus x citriodorus 6. Creeping Rosemary, Rosmarinus prostrates (not shown)

Here's some info on the various herbs I used:

Tricolor Sage, Salvia Officinalis 'Tricolor' has aromatic purplish-grey-green and cream variegated foliage that is ornamental and flavourful. Plant it in well-drained soil. Full sun. Height: 60-80 cm (24-32 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-24 inches) USDA zones: 4-9.

Silver Thyme, Thymus vulgaris has grey-green leaves that are edged in creamy-white. Thyme likes poor soil and good drainage. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Full sun. Height: 15-30 cm (6-12 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches) USDA zones:4-9.

Rue, Ruta graveolens has yellow cup-shaped flowers in summer and fern-like foliage. In the past, it was used for medicinal reasons, but is rarely grown these days. I have read that it repels Japanese Beetles (interesting!). Full sun. Height: 80-90 cm (36 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches) USDA zones: 4-9.

Golden Lemon Thyme, Thymus x citriodorus has green leaves edged in creamy-yellow. The foliage has a lemony taste. Thyme likes poor soil and good drainage. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Full sun. Height: 15-30 cm (6-12 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches) USDA zones: 4-9.

Creeping Rosemary, Rosmarinus prostratus is a low-growing form of rosemary that has little pale-blue flowers. It is easy to grow in poor, well-drained soil. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Full sun. Height: 15 cm (6 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-24 inches) USDA zones:8-11.
There are lots of shady pockets in my backyard. Ferns and ivy seemed like the perfect solution for another of my baskets. To add a little color, I used a sky-blue Lobelia.
This metal bucket was a dollar store find. A few holes for drainage was all it needed. The wicker furniture in the backyard has red seat cushions, so I thought the bucket might look nice planted with red and white petunias.
I have a number of vintage watering cans, which I use to water areas of the garden that the hose doesn't reach. I also have a few decorative ones. One such watering can has an open top making it the perfect vessel for a container planting.

I punched a few holes in the bottom forever committing the watering can to a new life as a container. Then I used 'Hula Pastel Pink' Calibrachoa, white 'Techno Heat Lobelia' and purple petunias to fill it.
The metal hangers with the decorative bird are from Walmart.
To water the plants I take the watering can down from its hook. I place it on the ground and do my watering. When I see the water running out the drainage holes in the bottom I know that even the bottom of the soil in the watering can has received moisture. Then I hang it back on the hook.
There are lots of shady pockets in my backyard. Ferns and ivy seemed like the perfect solution for another of my baskets. To add a little color, I used a sky-blue Lobelia.
1. Annual Lobelia 2. Asparagus Fern, Asparagus retrofractus 3. Boston Fern, Nephrolepis 'Fluffy Ruffles'  4. Button Fern, Nephrolepis cordifolia 5. Blue Star Fern, Phlebodium aureum mandaianum 6. Variegated ivy, Hedera helix
Looking for more ideas? Click the link at the bottom of the post.
Three Dogs in a Garden
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Bec17374215 Bec17374215 on Jun 15, 2017
    What plant are good for keeping mosquitoes away?

  • Tomstiles61 Tomstiles61 on Jun 14, 2018

    Does the cayenne pepper trick work for moles?

  • Michelle Martinez Michelle Martinez on Jun 27, 2018

    This is my first time using the hanging basket, and I lined the coconut liner with a plastic bag & poked holes. I placed on top of a bucket & some water drips out. The problem is I live on a second floor condo with a wooden porch. What can I do to actually hang my baskets w/o my downstairs neighbor getting the spillage? Is there some sort of "capture" system?

Join the conversation
4 of 80 comments
  • To help retain moisture in hanging baskets you can place an opened disposable diaper in the bottom under the soil or cut it up into pieces. The gel will absorb excess water and keep the soil moist. Puppy training pads or anything with the absorbent gel will work. I don't know that it's harmful, but I don't use this with my edible plants. I've also put old dish sponges in the soil (either whole or cut up, depending on container size). This is also a great way to use less soil. I've even used some foam filling from an old bean bag chair I was throwing out. Just mix in with the soil and it helps hold moisture. Foam packing peanuts in the bottom of a container will help with drainage also, without adding weight like rocks or gravel.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lorraine Gibb Lorraine Gibb on Nov 01, 2020

      Just be aware that since polystyrene (Styrofoam) packing peanuts are no longer permitted in many areas due to not being biodegradable, most peanuts these days are made of a disolvable starch material so they can be disposed in landfills. If used in soil, they will disintegrate with water and may turn into a gooey glop that won't aerate soil and might actually compact it too much. (Think about what happens with flour mixed with a little water... glue!)

  • Grandmasue10 Grandmasue10 on Feb 12, 2021

    Puppy pads have a scent to encourage the puppy to the right place. I wouldn't use on food plants as Lynn SC Meyers so wisely said.