Hanging Baskets, From Houseplants to Herbs
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Gardens come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some spread outward and some spread upward! No matter how small your garden or what you want from it, there’s always room for hanging plants to add color , interest and function to any porch, deck, balcony, or sunroom. It’s all still essentially container gardening and the same techniques apply.
Good soil with the proper amount of nutrients, sufficient drainage; and the right plant for the right place at the right time will get you off to the right start. Remember to pay attention to the water needs of the plants you choose and provide what it needs when it needs it – different types of plants have different needs, so know before you grow.
Succulents make great hanging baskets, especially for those of us who like fuss-free plants. Burro’s tail, also known as donkey’s tail (Sedum Morganianum) was a favorite around our house growing up because it grows so easily. The trailing foliage of this hanging sun-loving succulent grows about 2-3 feet long and if a piece of the foliage gets knocked off, pop it into an empty space in the pot and it will start growing. There are a number of cacti that provide interesting texture to a hanging succulent garden. The Rat Tail Cactus (Aporocactus Flagelliformis) with long thick stems with fine spines sport large pink curving blooms. Then there is the Fishbone Cactus (Selenicereus anthonyanus) with the unique zipper-looking foliage and evening blooming rose-colored blossoms. To avoid root rot, don’t over water.
This time of year we see profusions of sun-loving petunias in all ranges of colors and patterns. Trailing varieties are best suited for hanging baskets. Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Caibrachoa, otherwise known as million bells, is another popular hanging basket plant that produces a profusion of blooms in multiple hues and doesn’t need deadheading to keep pushing out the blooms. Water and feed them weekly throughout the season.
Have more shade? Begonias are a great choice in partially shaded space. Interesting foliage colors and patterns, single blooms, and doubles in a wide range of colors, with some having a fragrance there is an easy-care begonia waiting for you. While they need watering, they don’t like wet leaves or feet.
Herbs make great hanging baskets. Versatile and easy to grow, you can enjoy them throughout the season. Keep in mind “like with like” for planting mixed containers and that goes for hanging baskets too. A little research ahead of planting will help you select those that thrive in the same conditions. Creeping thyme, prostrate rosemary, and prostrate sage will cascade over the sides of the hanging basket, while winter savory or sage planted in the center can complete the “Thriller, Filler and Spiller” planting pattern for container gardens. Snipping the herbs for the kitchen will encourage the plant to produce new growth with new leaves growing close to the cuts.
Onward and upward! To the Garden!
Minda Daughtry is the Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.