How to Make a Basket Bloom

Garden Jan 2Garden Jan 1A little happy for your January.

Written by Charlie Thigpen

Photography by Lindsey Griffin


Many of our customers walk in the shop and tell us they need a “little happy” either for themselves or as a gift. What often makes them smile is an arranged basket full of blooming plants and greenery. After the holiday season is over, most of us have an empty basket or two around the house. Take a look at how you can easily transform one with living plants. 

If your basket has an open weave that you can see through, line it with a fabric like burlap. This will help hide the plastic pots when placing your plants. Before buying any plants, be sure to note your basket’s width, height, and depth. You’ll probably be using four- and six-inch plants, which are common sizes for small houseplants. If it’s convenient, take your basket to your local garden center and let them help with the plant selections that best fit the shape and size of your basket. Once you choose the plants you intend to use, be sure to have vinyl saucers to place under each plant. They will collect any excess water and protect your furniture. Be sure to choose a collection of plants that require the same amount of sunlight.

I love to use plants with contrasting colors, textures, and shapes. For example, here we used a colorful red-blooming bromeliad with long, dark green foliage. In front of the bromeliad, we placed a “Neon” pothos, which has heart-shaped leaves and chartreuse foliage. In time, the pothos will trail or cascade out of the basket. Next to the pothos we placed a button fern, which adds a fine texture and a mounding form. Behind the fern we positioned a Fittonia, sometimes referred to as nerve plant. The Fittonia we selected has rounded green leaves with reddish veins and complements the bromeliad’s red bloom.

For the finishing touches, trim the excess fabric or tuck the edges into the basket. Use a handful of Spanish moss to drape around the top of the plants to help hide the grower pots. And be sure to get on a regular watering schedule. I always recommend removing the Spanish moss and taking each plant to the sink for a good watering. Let the plants drip dry and then place them back into the basket and top with the moss.

It might be a little hard to get out into the garden during this cool January weather, but you can create a mini garden in a basket to combat the winter blues. So instead of dreaming about spring, embrace the season and arrange a basket to make a “little happy!”

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