Hanging Baskets Have Those Low On Gardening Space Looking Up

April 21, 1991|By Deborah Toich | Deborah Toich,Staff writer

Short on space, but want to garden? Consider hanging baskets.

Hanging baskets can be arranged for any space or personal preference. Ifyou buy your hanging basket, you can expect standard sizes, such as 6", 8" or 10" pots. You can expect to pay between $5 and $50 depending on the size and plants in the hanging basket.

The first thing to consider in choosing a hanging basket is whereit will hang. What lighting conditions will the plant have?

Plant expert Laurie Collins, from the new Earthtones Garden Shop at 40 Church Road in Arnold, said, "Outdoor hanging baskets will use native plants from all over the world. They generally use flowering plants, except for things like Boston ferns and cool season plants like fuchsia and browallia."

Plant choices in outdoor hanging baskets should take into consideration how much sun the basket will receive. You canchoose shade-loving impatiens; part sun-loving begonias; or sun-loving, more exotic plants, like boganvillea or plumbago. Summer plants like ivy geraniums also make good choices for outdoor hanging baskets.

Indoor baskets, as a rule, will use low light, green foliage, non-flowering plants, said Collins. The exceptions would be plants like flowering indoor begonias. However, flowering plants usually need larger amounts of sunlight, so placement should be considered with flowering plants.

If you choose to put together your own hanging basket, the next thing to consider is your pots and planting medium. The planting medium should be sterile and able to drain well.

Hanging baskets can be plastic pots (indoors or outdoors) or wire baskets linedwith moss (outdoors). Ceramic pots with hangers are also a possibility, but these pots are usually heavier, so some care must be taken.

When you are ready to start the potting process, clean pots and planting tools are essential. Collins recommends washing pots in hot soapy water and carefully rinsing. Sterilize the pots by letting them sit with a diluted bleach mixture and then rinse again to complete pot preparation. Be careful to rinse all the bleach off the pots, becausechlorine can stunt the growth of plants.

Clean hands and tools are important because they can transmit infections to plants. Plants, like people, are susceptible to stress, infection and insects.

Bacteria or fungus infection can be soil-, air- or water-borne. Infections also can be brought on by too much water or not enough water.

Users of tobacco products should be careful to wash their hands thoroughly because they can transmit tobacco mosaic virus from their cigarettes (cigars, etc.). Also, smoke in the air from smoking sources can contaminate and transmit disease, according to Collins.

Limit stress for plants by watering regularly, in both the amount of water and the days you choose to water. Plants need regular wet and dry periods. Water the same day(s) every week. Outdoor plants, carefully placed out of drafts, should be watered every two to three days. Indoor plants, kept at a regular cool temperature (around 68 degrees), can be watered once a week.

Collins recommends fertilizing indoor plants atleast once a month and outdoor plants once a week. She recommends a water soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer.

Choosing which plants to pot together is one of the more creative aspects of hanging basket gardens."The combinations of choices are limitless," said Collins.

"Most people use hanging or trailing plants in their baskets, but you don'tneed to limit it to that," she said. She suggested a plant like the poinsettia could be planted with other plants growing around the sides.

The thing to be careful about is pairing plants with the same sunlight tolerance. Don't put a sun-loving plant in the same basket with a shade-loving plant.

If you choose green foliage plants, you can often propagate new plants from cuttings from parent plants. Pinchoff a piece of the plant, remove the lower leaves (making sure a fewupper leaves still remain), stick the stem in some soil and fertilize, advises Collins.

Collins encourages gardeners to be creative, and if they have any questions to contact their local garden shops.

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