Plants And Hanging Baskets – A Decorative Combination

basket of assorted petunias

Summary: Hanging baskets help create a delightful atmosphere for the indoor garden, terrace, patio or home greenhouse. They may be used to provide color and interest to bare walls and to extend planting space – a real boon to those plant lovers limited to a small area. The imaginative person will discover countless ways to use hanging baskets around the house and garden.
When I use the word “basket”, it’s used broadly to designate any container which will hold living plants, and which can be suspended from a support.

It could be a purchased or homemade wire basket filled with pendulous tuberous begonias, achimenes, English ivy or a peperomia plant to be hung from the roof of a porch. It might be a bucket of blue-flowered browallia, a slatted wooden box planted with sedums, or a pail of cascading fuchsias.

Where To Hang?

Suspend baskets from terrace or patio standards, porch ceilings, awning frames, wooden or metal tripods, overhanging eaves or from tree branches.

Hang them from brackets on walls, fences, posts, or from ornamental grillwork.

Hang them from wire hooks in greenhouses, lath houses and sun porches. Suspend small baskets such as raffia-wound jugs, or pots from screw eyes or brackets in any location.

Paint a birdcage to harmonize with interior decor or patio furnishings and plant it with greenery or flowers to match or contrast with the color scheme.

baskets assorted waiting planting

Strong Support Needed

When you make plans to decorate by hanging plants in any kind of basket, remember that when it is filled with moist soil and plants, strong support will be needed.

Use screw eyes, eyebolts, clothesline hooks, brackets or some type of pulley arrangement for holding the baskets. The specific kind of hardware is a matter of personal preference, and location of the basket type which will be hanging.

To Protect Water Damage

When a basket is to be used where water draining from it would be harmful to floors, woodwork and furnishings, attach an aluminum plate or plastic pot saucer at the bottom to catch the excess.

If you are using a clay pot as a basket, a cork may be placed in the drainage hole at watering time and left there until there is no likeliness of water draining through.

Lining Baskets For Moisture

Line your wire or open-spaced wooden baskets with green sheet moss (available at Amazon, florists – possibly – and local garden centers) or a coco mat. A two-inch layer of unshredded sphagnum moss also makes a good liner (my preference).

Moisten the moss and press it firmly against the sides of the container. A layer of aluminum foil or sheet plastic will keep soil from sifting through the moss.

Also, it helps the planting retain moisture. Punch holes in the foil or plastic near the bottom of the basket to facilitate drainage.

Use a moisture retentive planting soil that has at least one third or more peat moss in it. I use equal parts garden soil, sand and peat moss. I have had good results, also, by using sphagnum moss without any other ingredient.

Moisten the soil or moss before adding it to the basket, and keep this about an inch below the top of the basket to leave plenty of space for watering.

Planted Directly In Soil

Basket plants may be set directly into the soil of the basket, or they may be left potted and simply plunged into the soil. Plants set directly into the soil do not dry out as rapidly as those left in pots.

It is easier to develop a planting design when you do not have to deal with solid pots.

However, some gardeners find it cuts down planting time to insert pots into the planting medium. Then, if the basket needs refurbishing, it is easy to remove individual pots and insert new material.

Planting Tips – Less Is More

Design a pleasing, season-long basket by choosing plants carefully and by planting fewer of them in the basket. Such plantings will be more graceful, and will enjoy better health than thickly planted baskets.

The Basket of Round – Insert Some In Sides

When plants are needed around the basket sides, remove plants from their pots, and make small openings in the moss. Insert the plants, inclining them slightly upward.

Work slowly and carefully when moving foliage and stems around wires or slats. Slip small pads of moistened moss between the plants and any wire pots that would touch them.

Check baskets daily to see that soil is moist. During hot weather baskets growing in sunny places may need twice-a-day watering. Those in shaded or wind-sheltered areas such as porches or lath houses may need watering only every other day.

basket of assorted impatients on support

If drippings are no problem, or cold water does not harm tender leaves, use the garden hose to moisten baskets. Otherwise, remove each basket and submerge it in at bucket of water. Leave it until the soil is thoroughly moistened.

Then drain the basket until dripping ceases and return to its elevation.

Fertilize hanging gardens about a month after planting. Follow with biweekly liquid feed.

Nip off seed pods that may form. Prune or pinch back plants to make them grow sturdier and to give the hanging garden a more pleasing contour.

Outdoors in the summer, and indoors in a sun-drenched winter window, petunias make showy baskets.

The key to having them continue blooming is to shear off several inches of growth periodically. For example, in late July or early August, cut them back several inches, and they will produce an abundant floral display all through autumn.

Episcias Will Cover Basket

Size of container and location determine the kind and size of plants that will do well in it. One basket-type of an angelwing begonia will put on a magnificent show of flowers in a four-inch pot placed inside a five-or six-inch hanger.

Larger baskets may be planted to several plants of the same variety.

Episcias start well this way, and they can be encouraged to cover the basket by hair-pinning the stolons to the soil or into the sphagnum moss where they will take root.

A mixture of plants can be effective, but in one container mix only those kinds which like the same or similar growing conditions.

Dry-growing peperomias, for example, will rot in a basket kept moist enough for ivy; shade-loving ferns will blister in sun that pleases sedums.

A general planting rule for mixed baskets is to place an upright accent plant in the center, edge the basket with vines, then place low-growing flowering and foliage plants between the vines and the accent plant.

For Sun Or Shade

For a sunny site outdoors in the summer, center a large basket with Aloe serrulata, add dwarf geraniums and edge with variegated Vinca major.

For a shady nook use a fern in the center, upright tuberous begonias for color, and Hahn’s English ivy to cascade over the edge.

When you are planning and planting baskets to hang, don’t stop when you find common philodendrons, grape-ivies or pothos to put in them. Search for other possibilities in lists of vines and climbers in catalogs, and at your local nurseries and garden centers. Get creative!

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