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Create A Festive Christmas Outdoor Hanging Basket


With Christmas on the way it is always great to get ahead of the game and create outdoor decorations while the weather is decent. It gets the holiday creative juices flowing! Many gardeners love to decorate with outdoor planters and hanging baskets containing natural plant materials from their own property. If you own an acreage with various trees, shrubs, and perennials, all the better.
If you have not cleaned out your cocoa or large wire moss baskets, this is the perfect time to create a natural Christmas themed basket to hang at the front entrance or on the back deck where you can enjoy it too! These baskets and containers will still be full of roots from the summer and that ‘root base’ will serve to anchor your branches, twigs, berries and decorations.


Plastic 12 inch hanging baskets will also work for more upright arrangements that you can hang or pop in a planter to brighten up the Christmas season.


As you read through the directions below remember this is just a guideline – feel free to experiment with your own creative ideas and enjoy the process.


First gather all the tools you will need:

-Sharp pruners

-Waterproof ribbon for bows (you can also use wired ribbon for bows)

-Scissors 

-Needle-nose pliers

-Water in a watering can

-Medium gauge knitting needle that you will use to poke holes in the rootball

-Small wire cutters

-Glue gun and glue sticks

-Small hand-held drill with a narrow, sharp bit

-Narrow bamboo support stakes



I usually use wired ribbon in a color or pattern that matches the decorative Christmas tree balls or ornaments such as birds. A large lazy susan turntable comes in handy which allows you to easily turn your basket as you work. Locate a spot where you can hang the basket to fill in and finish the bottom.


Weather allowing, it is always a good idea to create the basket where you are planning to hang it – you can certainly use that hook to hold it while you finish the bottom. Always be mindful of your back and create your arrangement on a waist high table. It does not need to be fancy! Do not forget your coffee or tea!


If you have thrown out your pre-planted moss baskets, you can always use the wire frame, line it with green sphagnum moss and fill with pre-soaked floral oasis (the kind used for fresh flower arrangements). Soak the foam in water for one half to a full hour to make sure it is totally saturated. Once placed in the basket, top the oasis off with a shallow cover of moss and then tie the moss/foam down with green string criss-crossed over the basket. You can do all this with the wire hanger in place.


Next, collect all the natural plant ingredients before you start. Focus on using different colors and most important, different textures of plant material. Prune larger branches from deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs – they can always be cut down to size if need be. Other ingredients you can use are ornamental grass seed heads, cattails, rose hips on branches, Poppy seed cones, mountain ash berries and viburnum berries. For seed heads that may shed, spray them with hairspray. Curly or straight willow branches are great for the central point of the basket as well as red or yellow twig dogwood. If you are lucky enough to have alder on your property, their ‘cones’ are very distinct and tiny. Do not rule out using a few artificial Christmas sprays.


Include a few large pine cones. Drill a hole in the base but not entirely through the cone. Fill the hole with hot glue and insert a narrow branch or long wooden skewer. Decorative ornaments such as colored balls that have a hole in the bottom can be glued onto a narrow skewer or bamboo stake. Hot glue the end of the stick and insert it into the ornament opening until it touches the top of the ornament. Set aside to dry.


Once you have gathered all the supplies, begin by pruning off all the old summer growth right back to the root ball. The next step is to soak the root ball in water a day ahead of your decorating date. This allows the root ball to drain so the next day you are not stuck with a wet mess. This also softens up the root ball so you can poke holes in it with your pointed knitting needle. These holes will make things easier when inserting branches, ornaments and bows.


I always like to determine my design shape parameters at the beginning. (See Diagram 1.) This is used as a reference so you do not lose sight of the overall shape as you insert your plant stems throughout the hanger. I like to create a central grouping of various branches.



Red/yellow twig dogwood and curly willow are great central materials. As per the diagram create the skeleton guide with a few branches around the edges and then a few branches that help form the dome shape that you can loosely follow as you work around the basket. Do not worry about being “perfect” as this can put a real damper on the process – just do it! The looser the overall shape is as you insert the branches the better. Make sure to vary the textures of plant material around the basket and use some repetition as you work.

At this point you can spray the arrangement with an anti-desiccant such as Wilt Pruf. I like to put the berry branches, pine cones, ornaments and bow (s) in last. These can be grouped in threes for more of an impact. The bow or bows can be placed near the cones, berries and ornaments as a focal point. Finally hang up your arrangement and fill in the underside of the basket.


As the final decorative touch, insert the bow(s). The bow(s) should be wired or glued to a long wooden skewer and inserted into the arrangement. Please refer to YouTube for excellent videos on how to make a bow. The bow can be created before or after finishing the project. The wet root ball will eventually freeze and lock in your arrangement.


I highly recommend including tiny battery operated LED mini lights in your arrangements. These seem to work better in cold temperatures than nickel metal hydride batteries that are used in solar lights.

FYI 

Avoid putting your Christmas hangers in direct sun. Intense winter sun will brown and dry out the evergreens in your arrangement. The anti-desiccant spray will help but is not a cure.

Gather inspiration from YouTube or Pinterest. Creating a beautiful outdoor Christmas hanging basket makes a great group project to enjoy with friends or your children.

 

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