Keen to add some colour to your outdoor area? If you’re short on space, why not install a small hanging garden? Hanging gardens – also sometimes known as container gardens – are compact, functional and can be very beautiful. Here’s some handy tips to get you started installing your own.
Your choice of plants also depends on where you intend to hang them. For example, is the position sunny or shady? Or, if outdoors, is it very windy? – if it is, this may become a burden in keeping water up to them during hot, windy conditions. Is it hot, cold or draughty? Remember, different plants have different needs and your local Mitre 10 Gardener centre qill be quite happy to advise you on your choices.
It is impractical here to list plants suitable for all situations. But generally, select plants that are of a weeping nature or have drooping flowers. They can be either climbers that will fall over the edge of the basket, or climb the supporting chain, or be low ground covers with soft stem that will weep down from the basket edge. Some plants with attractive droopy flowers or with a dwarf habit of growth also look most attractive as basket plants.
If you choose a wire or cane basket, you will need to add lining material inside the basket to retain the potting mix. Suitable lining materials include the following: Coconut fibre: pre-formed liners ready to cut to the required basket shape. They are very easy to use. The liner is open and free draining. Suitable for all types of basket plants.
Loose coconut fibre: similar to coconut fibre, but comes in packs of loose fibre. Paper bark: paper bark comes in rolls and needs to be formed and cut to shape. It provides a very earthy appearance and soon weathers attractively. Suitable to most plants but particularly attractive with ferns and indoor plants.
Sphagnum moss and bush Moss: these are living plants that produce lush green growth from the sides of the baskets as well as support the potting media. They are best suited to outdoor baskets of ferns that soon grow through the sides to create a most attractive effect. Plastic mesh: synthetic material pre-formed or in sheets that are placed in the baskets to retain the potting media. Old stockings and shade cloth can be used to similar effect. The appearance, however, can be rather disappointing.
Applying one of the commercial brands of slow release fertilizers every six months or so, such as Osmocote or Nutricote, will save you the need for regular feeding. However, do not overfeed the plants – always use the rates recommended on the pack for the size of container you’ve used.
Water in well to settle the mix and to get the plants started. Add fertilizer to the top of the basket at the rate recommended on the pack. Wire and cane baskets require a little more work because the basket walls will need to be lined with one of the liner materials shown in the chart. Pre-formed coconute fibre or plastic liners are simply placed in the basket and you pot in the same way as for plastic baskets.
Paper bark liners need to be pre-soaked in a bucket of water for an hour or so before using to make them pliable. Then place a sheet at a time into the basket, covering the sides and making sure they overlap at the joints. Leave a little sticking out above the basket, pot up as before, and then cut off the excess liner from the top when finished.
Moss linings are perhaps the most difficult to use but can be the most attractive. For example, ferns that produce creeping stems will often grow through the moss to produce a pleasing effect.
Starting at the bottom and working up the sides, form the moss around the inside of the basket by pressing it against the sides so that it stays in place. Work carefully as the moss is not stable until the potting mix is added – handle too roughly and it will fall away from the sides and the mix will drop out. Then pot up in the same way as the other types. Loose coconute fibre is treated in much the same way as with moss. After potting, remember to add fertiliser to water in well.
If hanging inside, make sure you hang from a structural part of the house and not just a plaster wall or ceiling, as you could do some damage. Outside, a pergola beam, veranda post, fence or brick wall shouldn’t pose any problems.
Fertilising and pruning are other important after-care tasks. If you have potted the plants with a slow release fertiliser, it will keep the plants growing but you will need to re-apply at the start of spring to feed the plants for another year. If no slow release fertilizer was used, feed with regular applications of a Liquid fertilizer following the recommendations on the pack.
When plants start to get too large for the basket, repot into large ones or plant out in the garden. Most basket plants also need to be pruned to shape. Once they become too leggy and woody, they may need to be pruned back hard to encourage new growth in spring. This is particularly important for Fuchsias. Finally, check regularly for any pests and diseases.