Hanging Baskets: Instant Outdoor Color!

We all love color in our gardens. Without gardens our yards, streets and parks wouldn’t be quite as beautiful. With the use of free seed catalogs we can plan a variety of gardens to include window boxes, container gardens, flower seeds gardens, vegetable seeds gardens, butterfly gardens, edible flower gardens and hanging baskets to name a few.

Hanging basket gardens are practical, pretty, and make use of space that is otherwise empty. With few exceptions today, our garden spaces have shrunk and been surrounded by more and more walls. Artful use of this wall-space and available air-space can create the ‘illusion’ of lushness and scale which escapes so many modern gardens. Hand-planted Sweet Alyssum, Lobelia, Fibrous Begonia, Marigolds, and Ivy in hanging baskets provide irresistible instant outdoor color.

The following are some tips that might help with your hanging basket garden and include; use a lightweight potting mix, soil-less mixes provide excellent drainage, aeration and water holding capacity; make sure basket has drainage holes; plastic or wire baskets can be used, plastic being inexpensive (plants will dry out slower) and wire baskets offer more choices in size and planting arrangements; liners used in wire baskets to hold soil and plants in position can be made of dried sphagnum moss or coconut fiber (coir); make sure basket is strongly supported; use small, healthy, young plants and plant flower seeds closely together.

Here are some advantages to the use of hanging baskets in your garden:

  • Instant Color: when most flowering plants are past their prime, hanging baskets can extend summer color into fall.
  • Create Visual Interest: focus the eye on unusual spots in limited spaces
  • Great Hobby Activity: experiment with plantings in a controlled environment; let your imagination run wild!

Babylon Revisited

With proper care, shallow-rooted crops like lettuce, herbs, peppers, and radishes will thrive in hanging baskets. You can even grow some varieties of tomatoes, such as cherry. With adequate sun, moisture, and proper air circulation, your plants should flourish as if in an earth-bound garden. Drainage is important; if your hanging basket lacks ample drainage holes, the bottom layer of the pot should contain rocks and pebbles to hold excess water away from the roots. Since the most common problem with hanging pots is lack of water, look for hanging pots with a water-catching saucer.

The potting soil should be made up of equal parts sand, soil, and peat moss, with regular feedings of a complete fertilizer formula. The following moisture-retentive mixture will supply the vegetables for weeks without extra feedings: one bushel (6 gallons) vermiculite, one bushel shredded peat moss, 1-1/4 cups ground limestone, 1/2 cup 20% superphosphate, and one cup 5-10-5 fertilizer. If the leaves of the vegetables start to lose their healthy green color, it’s time to fertilize.

Sow your seeds directly in the pot, and when sprouted, thin to the desired amount by cutting off the unwanted seedlings with scissors at the soil line. Pulling them out may disturb neighboring root systems.

A variation of the hanging garden is a hanging basket “tree.” You’ll need several half-round wire baskets and a 2′ x 12′ plank about five feet long. Stand or prop the board upright and attach the baskets to the board about two feet apart, one after the other. The board must be fastened or propped upright securely – try fastening it to a deck railing on the south side of your house. Line the baskets with black plastic, punch a few holes in it for drainage, fill with prepared soil, and you’re ready to plant. These planting ideas should offer you some new ways to think about your next vegetable garden. It’s fun to try new methods of growing – even if you’re not limited by space. Some, like the hanging basket tree, can become quite a conversation piece at your next patio party!