You can, of course, buy a ready-to-go hanging basket of potted colour at your local garden centre: there are lots of pretty ones available, but they tend to be a single variety of plant. By doing it yourself, you can combine several different plants for a truly spectacular burst of colour – perhaps in your Mum’s favourite shades – or opt for a more unusual combination of plants.
Start with a hanging basket. These come in lots of different styles and shapes. A plastic, moulded hanging pot is lightweight, reduces moisture loss and often comes with an attached saucer, or even a self-watering reservoir. Wire baskets are also attractive, but they will need to be lined with something to keep the soil in place. Coconut fibre or paperbark are good choices, and to reduce water loss, you can line the inside of the liner with a supermarket bag or something similar. Make holes in it for drainage and trim the top so it can’t be seen.
Always use a premium-quality potting mix for your basket, because it will contain lots of nutrients and wetting agents to retain water. You can also add a small amount of slow-release fertiliser – but be guided by the manufacturer’s instructions.
Now, what to plant? The prettiest of plants for a late autumn Mother’s Day basket is the pansy. Their little smiling faces are so cheerful! They come in a range of gorgeous colours and sizes and look glorious when combined with plants that will spill over the sides of the basket: trailing ivy, kidney-leafed dichondra, delicate chain-of-hearts or silver foliaged plants, for contrast.
Vibrantly coloured polyanthus are also good for hanging baskets, and impatiens and begonias make great choices for shadier spots.
Also on the list for long-lasting and colourful blooms are geraniums, fuchsias and even the dwarf-growing varieties of that Mother’s Day favourite, the chrysanthemum. And if Mum is rather more partial to greenery than flowers, you could pot her up an edible hanging container of herbs or an eye-catching basket of succulents, such as the trailing string of pearls or the beautiful winter-flowering zygocactus, with its cascades of exotic pink flowers.
Whatever you choose, just remind her to water her basket every day and it will bring her pleasure for months to come.