Hanging baskets are a great way to dress up your yard and garden. Not only do they add color and interest, but because ornamentals, herbs, and vegetables can all be successfully grown in them, hanging baskets are also an excellent way increase your available planting space.
It is always a good idea to select the biggest basket you can for your space. Bigger baskets, from 14 to 16 inches, are generally easier to care for. Use a 20-inch half-basket for mounting on walls, as you will lose significant space one you fill it will lining material. Baskets 12-inches and smaller will dry out much faster and do not provide as much space for plant roots.
There are two styles of hanging baskets-open framework and solid. Each has its pros and cons. An open-style (wire framework) basket offers a great planting area, which may ultimately be more attractive because they can house more big plants. Solid-style baskets do not need to be lined and may retain moisture longer, but offer less planting space. There are also self-watering styles available.
Sphagnum moss is the traditional material used to line open-framed hanging baskets, but it is not the greenest option. Harvesting peat bogs can cause a great deal of long-term environmental damage. Better options include hay or straw, pine boughs, wool from old sweaters or pants, or recycled alternatives like "mock moss", which is made from a combination of wool and coir.
The growing medium used in baskets should be light, but it still needs to be able to retain some moisture. Use a soil less mix with a small amount of potting soil and compost mixed in to improve fertility and moisture retention.
The best basket combinations are those that combine trailing and upright plants. Ornamentals should be spaced every 2-4 inches apart in every direction, and vegetables and herbs according to directions. When planting your hanging basket, place it on a pedestal so you can see how the plants look from every angle.
Watering: Sun, wind, and many plants growing together in a small space can result in baskets drying out quickly. Water well and water often. Unless your hanging basket is self-watering, plan to check moisture levels daily. Remember, even in wet weather, a basket hanging under the eaves of your house is not likely to receive adequate water. A watering can with a long spout or a garden hose attachment like a water wand makes watering much easier.
If your basket dries out, you may be able to revive it by submerging it in a bucket of water, and allowing it to absorb as much moisture as possible. Use a swivel hook and rotate baskets frequently to make sure plants get even exposure to available light.
Feeding: Tomatoes and flowering ornamentals need weekly feedings. Use a high-potash liquid organic fertilizer. Herbs will get by fine if fed twice monthly with an all purpose organic liquid fertilizer.
Deadheading: Removing spent blooms regularly will help prolong the life of your display and give you the opportunity to check for insect problems.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
This was a very informative article. I don't have much space to garden & was planning to use more containers this year -especially for veggies, but I'll probably use some hanging baskets for Lettuce now too, since I've read this article. Thanks.
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