Posted By: Marlowe DeVille /
Hanging baskets are one of the best ways of decorating a wall or post, adding color and beauty to your garden. They can also increase the amount of growing space in your greenhouse or patio. Ornamentals, herbs, and even tomatoes can all be grown successfully in baskets.
Go for the largest basket you can manage; buy a hanger that will hold its weight and attach it securely. A 16-inch basket can be awkward to handle, but is easy to care for. A 14-inch basket will do for general use, but a 12-in basket is really too small. An open wire framework increases the planting area, which in the end looks best. It needs to be lined, however, and will dry out more quickly that a solid basket.
Liners and Growing Media
Avoid sphagnum moss, the traditional liner, as its harvesting can cause environmental damage. Liners made from alternative, often recycled, materials are available, or you can make your own. An old sweater can be cut to fit a basket , or you can use hay twisted into ropes. Hay does tend to grow some interesting surprises during the summer; unwanted additions can be snipped off with scissors.
“Mock moss,” made from wool or coir and often dyed green, is the closest alternative to real moss. It is available loose or in preformed sheets. Winter baskets can also be lined with conifer cuttings 6-8 inches long, along with a little yarn inside to fill any gaps.
A soilless medium is best because it is lighter. Improve water retention by adding an organic moisture retainer based on coarse seaweed meal. Use worm compost in the mix (up to 25% volume) to increase the level of fertility and improve the water-holding capacity.
Plants for Baskets
Baskets look their best with a combination of trailing and upright plants, as well as plants with a long flowering season. Choose a selection of plants to suit the season and location of the hanging basket. Half-hardy plants, both foliage and flowering, are usually used in summer baskets. Trailing plants should be planted around the rim and through the mesh of wire baskets. Do not skimp on numbers if you want a really good display. With ornamentals, aim for a plant every 2-4 inches in all directions.
Care for your Baskets
Water baskets daily, even in wet weather. Twice a day may be necessary in hot or dry, windy weather. Once a basket has dried out , it is very difficult to rewet. Take the opportunity when watering to look for pests and diseases, and snip off any infested foliage. If a whole plant is unhealthy, remove it and replace it with another plant. Regular deadheading helps to prolong the life of a basket display.
A weekly feeding with a high-potash organic liquid fertilizer like Grower’s Secret Bloom is necessary for tomatoes and flowering plants. For baskets of herbs use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer like Grower’s Secret Flourish at 2-week intervals. A kelp extract like Grower’s Secret Thicken, added to the feed can be beneficial.