How to Create Designer Winter Hanging Baskets

Easy Steps to Create Designer Winter Hanging Baskets

Having researched this subject for the last few weeks, I could not help but notice there is a lack of articles referring to the creation of Designer Winter hanging baskets for your home and garden.

To put this right I have complied a list of plants that if assembled correctly, in the perfect container and finished with a few designer tips and tricks of my own! You can create a winter hanging basket that will impress you neighbours, family and friends when they call round.

Many of us have planted up a Summer hanging basket, adding a splash of colour at head height around our home and garden has always been a popular addition to help decorate the outsides of our home. No matter what size you garden, everyone has space to put up a bracket and hang a basket or window box.

Created as a step by step tutorial I hope you will enjoy my tips and follow my advice when creating your next Designer Winter hanging basket to display in your garden or to gift to a friend.

Designer Winter Hanging Basket

As you can see from my picture above, a Winter Hanging basket is very different from the Summer equivalent in that the plants are already well established and showing full colour, this is because the Winter months being so much colder will stop the plants from growing and create a dormant like state for the shrubs and flowers. This means your basket must be full and in flower to get the best effect through the Summer months.

Getting the timing right is essential, plant to early and your flowering plants will go too seed in the warm weather, plant to late and you will have small plants with no flowers, so it may at first seem simple but there is actually a lot of planning that goes into getting your designer winter hanging basket just right.

So now that you understand what we are trying to achieve, the first thing that we need to consider is our hanging basket, you could of course wait for the Summer basket to finish, emptying and cleaning your basket, perhaps making a few repairs and replacing the chain and liner from time to time.

I prefer to have a second set of baskets just for Winter this way I can leave my Summer basket in-place giving me time to work on my winter displays and swapping them over at just the right moment.

When choosing your Winter hanging basket go for something decorative, hard-wearing and as large a diameter as you can because the plants are going to sit in this compost for almost six months, space will be a premium as the roots search for available water and nutrients.

I always use a 18″ black wrought iron basket that comes complete with liner, this way I get a sturdy basket that’s going to last many years and has the added bonus of the coir liner already in-place. Choose a basket size to suit your needs from 14-18″ are readily available in garden centres or online.

I always purchase extra liners when I buy my new baskets this way I can always be sure I have spare liners in-stock ready to plant up my Summer baskets.

Next we need to consider the planting medium and this needs some considerations it differs from the compost you would use in the Summer in that we do not want this plants to grow excessively, so a low nutrient well draining compost will be fine.

I prefer to use a peat free organic compost for my winter baskets, this way not only can I provide the winter basket plants with a low nutrient compost but also rest assured that by using recycled organic materials I am doing my bit to help limit the use of peat in our planting mediums.

A large bale of compost like this delivered will set you back approx £10, a visit to the garden centre to buy compost will be cheaper but less convenient, but could be purchased while buying your plants.

NB: These bales are heavy be sure to get an assist to help, after all that’s what they are there for! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Set yourself sometime aside to complete this job, perhaps you are only making up one or two baskets ( I make six at a time) but the whole experience should be fun. Setting up your materials, ordering your baskets, liners and compost on-line is so easy these days, you can browse Amazon to get exactly what you want and have it delivered in a few days. While you wait for your delivery plan a day to yourself for a) Plant shopping a b) assembling your basket.

Winter bedding plant shopping

Try and resist the temptation to just buy what appeals to you while shopping this can spell trouble and the last thing you want to do is end up replacing plants part way through the season.

Here are my top Winter Basket Plants

  1. Skimma japonica – a beautiful evergreen winter flowering shrub, perfect for off centre of your basket.
  2. Erica arborea – tree heather, bright yellow evergreen foliage that contrasts well with the glossy leaves of the Skimma.
  3. Variegated Ivy – perfect for hiding the basket, plant these throughout the coco liner of your basket.
  4. Cyclamen – every winter basket display needs cyclamen, choose a neutral colour for dramatic effect.
  5. Winter heathers – perfect for long flowering and durability choose colours to coordinate with other plants.
  6. Sencio – a silver frilly foliage bedding plant that will tolerate winter weather helps lighten the basket.
  7. Viola – a small-flowered pansy will set your baskets aside from the competition choose subtle colours to compliment.
  8. Crocus – plant around 25 of these bulbs in your baskets, around the edges and through the liner for some spring cheer.

Interested in finding out my top ten Summer Hanging basket plants?

Assembling your basket takes a little practise here are some step by step instructions to help.

  1. Place your hanging basket on top of a large upright flower-pot, this will keep it in position so you can begin planting.
  2. Remove and tags or labels from your newly purchased basket.
  3. Begin adding compost, remember do not add slow release fertiliser or water retaining crystals save those for Summer.
  4. Fill your basket to the brim and firm down with your fingers, especially around the edges, if you have time it would be a good idea to assemble each of your baskets and water them with a fine rose leaving them overnight to stand.

pre assemble your designer winter hanging basket

5. Place your chosen plants in their pots on top of the compost and arrange them until your are happy with the results.

 Cutting the winter basket liner

     6. Once you are happy with the arrangement you can begin planting, I always plant through the liner first, cutting a cross      with a sharp penknife through the liner, and pushing the plant roots through into the compost before firming in-place.

7. Once you have your Ivies in place, now comes a trick to secure each of the ivy stems and tendrils to the basket frame, using some thin garden wire, twist around each of the baskets frame and secure the ivy into place.

Winter Ivy Baskets

8. Next you can begin adding the center-piece to your basket, plant off centre both the Skimma and The Tree Heather.

Planting winter baskets

     9. Next add the Skimmia and the heathers assembling the basket as you go, teasing the plants roots at this stage will help them grow into the planting medium.

Winter hanging baskets heathers

       10. As you can see the basket id beginning to come together, continue adding your winter bedding plants, firming the compost as you go to stop the plants from moving around during bad weather.

Adding cyclamen to a designer winter basket

       11. Adding colour to the winter basket is always mtg favourite part and cyclamen make a great filler, combine with a nice light coloured Viola and your almost done.

Viola winter baskets

     12. Once the plants are in remember to add your crocus, I am planting bright yellow and lemon species crocus the flowers will be smaller than the hybrid crocus but last longer and give a subtle display in early spring, when your basket will be at it’s best.

Planted Designer Winter Hanging basket

       Our Designer Winter baskets will stay in the poly tunnel for a few days to settle, you could use a cool greenhouse or similar       shaded spot to let the acclimatize or put straight onto your hanging basket bracket.

Remember Cyclamen can be fussy about water and little and often is better than soaking the compost, managing the basket is quite different from caring for your summer hanging baskets, winter baskets need much less water and will require deadheading and removing any decaying leaves every few days.

Stephen raised on a farm in Mid Wales, trained in horticulture under apprenticeship with the National Trust and has worked in several prestigious locations around the world. Today as Head Gardener for a large private estate on the outskirts of London, a keen plants-man, horticulturist and nature lover.

Managing large formal gardens, growing a huge range of fruit, vegetables and homemade produce for the estate residents. Stephen with assistance from a team of professional garden and farm staff, cares for livestock, including cattle, sheep, poultry and horses, completes property maintenance and grounds management.

Stephen believes knowledge is to be shared and thanks to some amazing mentors in his career path hopes to be able to share this knowledge with others like you and your friends all he asks in return is that you find the time to leave a brief comment and share socially with your friends.

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Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consultant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.







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About Head Gardener 290 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”


  1. Just a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great style and design. “The price one pays for pursuing a profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” by James Arthur Baldwin.

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