Monday, October 31, 2011

Hanging gardens

Hanging baskets are wonderful for utilising spaces that would otherwise be wasted. They are literally hanging gardens of foliage or flowers and can be inside or outside.

Finding the right basket for the purpose and plants is the first step. There are a multitude of different baskets. The two basic types are wire ones made from galvanised steel or iron and plastic ones with attached drip trays that are excellent for indoors. You can water baskets with drip trays quite a lot without worrying about over-watering, as long as the drip tray isn’t full. They are also useful because they can be watered directly into the drip tray.

The wire ones are relatively cheap and cost costs around $10. These baskets need to be lined in order to hold soil. You can buy liners or make your own out of shade cloth cut to size and pushed into the basket. To remove the folds, make slits in the cloth at intervals. The cloth will then overlap neatly in the basket. Use about 3-4 layers of cloth. Half fill the basket with potting soil and trim any edges of cloth that hang over. Hanging baskets can get very heavy, so it is advisable to hang them up while planting.

Add some cocoapeat or coir to the soil because this acts as a moisture reservoir which is important for plants in pots. Ferns make excellent foliage hanging baskets. Peter chooses a variety of ferns that can all be planted in the same pot and whose foliage complements one another. When planting ensure that the top of the root ball is just below the level of the rim. Place the first plant in the centre of the basket, then gently fill in all the spaces around it with other plants. Peter selects about seven different fern species including a forest brake fern, variegated brake fern, two species of maidenhair, a button fern and two species of pilea, P. mollis and P. nummularifolia (Creeping Charlie) which is excellent for the edges as it weeps over the side. This ability to grow numerous species in the one pot is the great advantage of basket gardening.

Backfill, all the spaces between the plants by hand with moist but not too wet potting soil. It should still be able to flow into the crevices. Push the soil in lightly and finish by watering thoroughly to allow the potting soil to settle down.

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