You don’t need a large garden to enjoy springtime. Just a single ball of blooms as glorious as these will command the same impact as a whole bed full of flowers. It looks fabulous, it’s bursting with pansy and polyanthus and it’s unique. Just make sure you give it a secure hanging spot and an extra-prominent location.
Flowers for a ball
There are all sorts of annuals, both spring and summer bloomers, which can be used to create a flower ball. The main requirement is that they’re low growing and compact in habit.
Spring: pansy, viola, polyanthus, lobelia, alyssum, cranesbill geranium
Summer: impatiens, petunia, gazania, torenia, dwarf marigold
How to plant up a flower ball
Gather your supplies
2 x 30cm-diameter hanging baskets with chains; 2 fibre basket liners; sharp scissors or secateurs; sheet of cardboard; tie-wire; plastic cable ties; potting mix; slow-release fertiliser; 6-8 punnets of polyanthus seedlings
Around the basket liner, make a series of evenly spaced planting slits by pinching the fabric, then cutting it with sharp scissors or secateurs.
Put the liner in the basket. Ensure the slits are spaced so they sit between the metal wires of the basket. Also include a planting slit in the very bottom of the basket.
Using your fingers, loosen the planting slits to make it easier to push through the root balls of the seedlings.
Start by planting a polyanthus seedling in the basket base. Plant out the bottom half of the basket, then half-fill the inside of the basket with potting mix. Continue planting the upper half of the basket with the seedlings, then top up with more potting mix, to within 1-2cm of the top.
Scatter a controlled-release fertiliser suitable for pots over the surface of the potting mix. Make up a second basket, following Steps 1-5.
Cut out a circle of cardboard and fit it across the top of one of the baskets. Wire it into position using tie-wire, then poke several holes over its surface; a sharp scissor blade or knife will do this.
Carefully invert the cardboard-covered basket over the other basket so they align perfectly. Connect the chains to the basket, making sure the clips go over the rims of both baskets.
Connect several plastic cable ties over the basket rims, to give the flower ball extra stability.
Hang the flower ball in a position which receives dappled sunlight or at least afternoon shade, to avoid it drying out too quickly. While the seedlings are maturing, water it regularly, using a plastic funnel placed in the top of the ball (as shown). Every fortnight, feed with a soluble fertiliser such as Thrive. Periodically spray the seedlings with a solution of seaweed tonic to give them an extra boost.