October grow your own

Choosing plants There are lots of plants that can be grown in baskets, including cheerful annuals, and small evergreen shrubs that will provide structure and all-year-round interest. Rather than planting randomly, choose a colour scheme such as pink or white flowers, or use hot reds and yellows. Although most baskets are planted in early spring and put outdoors after the risk of frost has passed, they can also be filled with frost hardy flowers and tough evergreens for colour over winter. What to do Prepare your compost by mixing a handful of controlled-release fertiliser granules and some water-retaining gel into peat-free multi-purpose compost. Next, remove one of the hanging chains from a 35cm (14in) wire hanging basket and stand the basket on a pot to keep it steady. Cover the inside of the basket with a coconut fibre liner. Garden centres stock a variety of liner material. Avoid sphagnum moss that has been gathered from the wild as it's not a sustainable crop. To prevent too much water from escaping, lay a plastic bin liner on top of the fibre and cut around the edges where it overlaps the basket, making sure none of the black plastic is visible. Put a 2.5cm (1in) layer of compost in the base of the basket. At soil level, make three cuts, 2cm (0.75in) across, through the bin liner and the fibre at the sides of the basket. Select plants for the sides of the basket and to prevent damage to roots and stems, individually wrap each in a tube of paper. From the inside of the basket, push the tube through one of the holes until the rootball is snug against the liner. Unwrap the paper and add the other plants. Firm soil around the rootballs. Fill two thirds of the basket with soil and add another layer of plants. Continue to fill with compost, leave a 3cm (0.75in) gap between the top of the compost and the lip of the basket, and finish by planting the top. Water well. Aftercare Hang outside when all risk of frost has passed. Water daily, especially during warm weather. Remove spent blooms from your plants two to three times a week to encourage plants to produce a succession of flowers. Boost plants with a weekly liquid feed. Plants to try Lobelia 'Fountain Mixture Trailing' - red, pink, white and mauve flowers Dichondra 'Silver Falls' - trailing foliage plant with silver leaves Sweet pea 'Pink Cupid' - fragrant pink flowers on compact plants Petunia 'Purple Velvet' - rich purple flowers appear on long stems Begonia 'Chanson Pink' - long stems with blousy pink blooms If planting a winter basket, try winter pansies, primula, trailing ivy, heathers and dwarf conifers. Underplant with dwarf bulbs such as narcissus, tulips and iris for a spring display. Material courtesy of BBC Gardening

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