We’ve always had hanging baskets outside our home, but are they becoming old fashioned?
Hanging baskets are a traditional and charming way of decorating your home, but their old world style does not mean they are old fashioned. Positioned and cared for correctly, hanging baskets can bring a burst of color to both the outside and inside of your property.
Let’s consider this topic in more detail, considering the relative merits of hanging baskets, how to dispose of them when they wear out, and what you can use in their place as alternatives…
Are Hanging Baskets Trendy or Out of Fashion?
Hanging baskets are certainly a traditional way to decorate the outside of your home, however, we don’t think that this makes them old-fashioned. Hanging baskets will be in style as long as folks choose to display them on their walls, and these planters show no sign of going out of fashion yet.
Of course, if you’re talking about what’s on-trend, the types of plants you choose to display in the hanging basket will affect their aesthetic appeal. You don’t have to go for the classic country look of bedding plants and trailing blooms (although these are perfect for an older house), but you can play with color, form, and variety to find something that suits your style.
We’ve seen foliage-only planters with architectural ferns or even succulents. You can use your hanging baskets to grow trailing cherry tomatoes or strawberries away from the slugs and snails on the ground, and they also make lovely herb gardens.
The typical hanging basket these days is a wire frame filled with a natural lining, such as coconut fiber. These are then suspended on a metal chain and hook to a bracket on the wall, or secured into a beam to hang straight down (for example, from the overhang on a porch roof). However, as with everything in the garden, design evolves, and there are some modern variations you can try.
Macrame plant hangers with plant pots held inside them are popular at the moment, especially on porches and verandas or in garden rooms. As a fashionable alternative to attaching your basket to the wall or ceiling, try fixing a shepherd’s crook into the ground then hanging the basket from its hook.
Provided the pot has the drainage (and your hook and beams are super-strong), try a round metal planter suspended by three chains. This has the look of a fairytale witch’s cauldron! Try polished brass planted with ferns for a real on-trend look.
Want to save money on your hanging baskets? Watch this video from Whitney Baldwin about how to upcycle old plastic containers into stylish, homemade hanging planters.
What Can I Hang Instead of a Hanging Basket?
We mentioned a few alternatives to the traditional baskets. You can use conventional plant pots suspended in macrame hangers, or even hang a round metal or ceramic planter using three strong chains.
Of course, you can move away from planters altogether. What if you have the brackets in place but don’t want the hassle of a hanging basket and its plants?
The obvious first answer is lanterns. You can get solar powered, electric, and candlelit versions (the wired-in versions mean more work, of course). These are a great use of existing hooks or brackets.
You could also suspend string lights or bunting between the hooks, and use them for holiday decorations such as garlands, and even more string lights. In the summer, suspend wind chimes for a relaxing sound, or if they’re not too close to the house, hang bird feeders from the brackets.
When Should You Get Rid of Hanging Baskets? (Do They Last All Year?)
As with any other outdoor planter, what you do with it in the winter depends on your climate. If you have cold falls and winters, bring your basket indoors before the first frost.
However, if you live in a more temperate climate, your plants may survive the winter. Find out which plant hardiness zone you live in before deciding what to plant in your basket.
What Do You Do With Hanging Baskets At The End of Summer?
The traditional hanging baskets are planted with bedding plants, many of which are annuals. If this is the case for you, unclip the baskets at the start of the fall, clean out and compost the old plants, and give the basket and chain a thorough clean. Store it away when it’s dry, all ready for the spring.
If your plants aren’t annuals, you’ll need to take care of them during the colder months. Unclip the baskets during the fall, and move them indoors to a greenhouse or conservatory.
Do you live in a warm-weather state? Enjoy your hanging baskets all year round, and simply replace any annuals when their time’s up.
Can Hanging Baskets Survive Winter?
There are two factors here: the plants and the baskets themselves. As we’ve discussed, the hardier the plant and/or the warmer the climate, the more likely it is to do well outside all year. Some people choose to plant robust evergreen plants like ivy in their hanging basket, to ensure they have year-round foliage to brighten up their porches or patios.
However, there is also the basket itself… Unless you have a very sheltered spot, the basket could come up against some pretty lively weather during the winter. Suspended above the ground, the hanging basket is more vulnerable to the elements than a classic planter is, even if it’s securely fixed close to the wall.
So, unless you’re confident that your hanging planter will stay in place, we’d definitely recommend taking them down in the fall, emptying and cleaning them, and storing them somewhere dry until next year’s display.
Are Hanging Baskets Worth The Effort?
Before asking if they’re worth the effort, first we need to establish how much of an effort a hanging basket actually is.
We’ve all seen the pictures of cozy old cottages in England or hanging planter-lined verandahs in older American homes, their walls almost obscured by an array of colorful bedding plants or cascading leaves. The initial thought of “How pretty!” is shortly followed by “But all that watering!”
Because yes, like all plants in pots, hanging basket plants need plenty of watering. Unlike plants in pots, you may not be able to reach them all… So, the daily watering is an effort, sometimes involving a well-aimed hose pipe, sometimes involving step ladders, and often involving the water running down the sleeve of your outstretched arm.
If you’re feeling enterprising, you could have your higher hanging baskets on pulleys, so you simply haul them down when it’s watering time. You could also try an irrigation system, although this can be tricky to achieve with suspended plants.
The actual planting part is pretty straightforward, and if this is your first hanging basket, you can buy them as kits from garden centers. If you go down the traditional route and choose annuals, they’re easy to plant and care for.
There is one more thing to think about: attaching the bracket or hook. This isn’t as easy as simply putting a pot down on your decking, especially if you’re drilling into the masonry of your house wall to install a bracket. However, hopefully this is a one-time job, and your bracket will stay in place long as you want it to.
So let’s weigh this up. Initial installation, plus planting, followed by slightly trickier daily watering. We reckon this is definitely worth it, as hanging baskets look gorgeous in most homes, and are a lovely, natural way to bring color and character to your home.
If you have only a small yard or a city balcony, hanging baskets are a great way of gardening without taking up too much valuable floor space. In these cases, hanging baskets are worth the effort, simply because they could be the main planting element in the yard or balcony.
We put quite a lot of effort into maintaining our hanging baskets at home, but the work is worthwhile because they look wonderfully colorful throughout the spring and summer.
Our friends, family and house guests always comment on them – and while they certainly provide a nod to the past in terms of their traditional styling – they are not necessarily old fashioned as a result. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >