Hanging baskets, planters or window boxes full of flowers or foliage plants give a colour boost to your house, patio and garden. They can be used effectively even in a very small space. If you choose plants carefully, you can change the plantings to suit every season and add colour and texture to your environment.
A lightweight potting mix is needed for
container gardening. Soil-less planting mixes provide excellent drainage,
aeration and water-holding capacity that ordinary garden soil can not supply.
Be sure that your basket or window box
has drainage holes. Drainage is essential so that the planting mix will not
become water-logged. Do not bother placing pebbles or other material at the
bottom of the container as they will not provide better drainage. Its an old
idea from the times when people only used garden soil which is so fine it could
block up the drainage holes in flower pots – the pebbles helped keep those
Plastic or wire baskets are available for hanging or mounting on the wall. Both
have advantages and disadvantages. Plastic is inexpensive, easy to plant and is
slower to dry out. Wire baskets allow more choices in size and planting
Window boxes are usually plastic, wood or long wire baskets with
Liners are used to hold the soil and
plants in position and can be made of dried sphagnum moss, wool or coconut
fibre also known as coir. They also help maintain moisture, which is why
sphagnum moss is so good.
Window boxes and baskets may need a
strong support system. Remember that the containers will be much heavier when
Choose small, healthy young plants for
planting. They will adapt to new surroundings much faster than older plants.
Plant much closer in a box or basket
than you would in a flowerbed. Include plants with a variety of colours, shapes
and textures. Trailing plants should be planted at the edges and bushy or
upright plants will go at the centre or back. Be sure that the taller plants
will not block your windows or interfere with hanging the basket.
Site selection is as important for
baskets and boxes as it is for any other plant. Remember that most of the time
the hanging basket will be viewed from below. Hang the basket so that it will
be close to eye level so that it can be admired and watered easily. Window
boxes should extend the entire width of the window for best appearance.
PLANTING A MOSS LINED BASKET:
* Soak the sphagnum moss
overnight in very warm water.
* Squeeze as much water out of
the moss as you can. Pack the moss in between the wires tightly from the
inside of the basket.
* Add potting or basket mixture,
going up as far as the top of this first layer of moss.
*Water plants well before
*Crumble peat pots away from plants grown in them so that it will
not suck water away from the roots.
*Pinch off flowers on new transplants
to promote sturdy growth
PLANTS FOR CONTAINERS:
Many types of plants will grow in containers including annuals, vines,
tropical plants, herbs and even some vegetables.
For hanging salads, grow leaf
lettuce, parsley and miniature tomatoes. Herbs go well in containers and
require little care. Thyme, oregano and rosemary are good for containers
because they like the soil to dry out between waterings.
Many plants normally
grown as houseplants will be great for foliage in outdoor containers also.
Containers can dry out very quickly.
Daily or even twice-daily watering may be necessary.
Feel the soil to determine
whether or not it is damp. If the potting mix feels dry 2-3cms below the
surface, it is time to water. Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes.
If the pot dries out too much you should immerse it in water to resoak the soil
Containers will need frequent checking as the plants grow and temperatures
become hotter. Try a soil wetting agent – this breaks down the surface tension
of the soil allowing the moisture to be retained much longer – it can be a very
useful plantsaver if you go away for a short break. You can also mulch your
pots and baskets, it will help minimise water evaporation.
Watering wands are good tools for
difficult-to-reach baskets and window boxes. They extend your reach and produce
a gentle shower.
But beware, frequent watering flushes
nutrients from the soil quickly, so frequent fertilizing is also necessary. Liquid fertilizers or timed-release fertilizers are the easiest methods of
Time-release fertilizer pellets like Osmocote can be mixed into
the soil at planting or worked into the top inch later.The soil in the
container should be moist when fertilizer is applied, even liquid fertilizer.
Feed baskets and boxes every two weeks from spring through summer with a
complete liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
Remove flowers as they fade to keep flowering baskets blooming well. Many
plants are rejuvenated by a trim in late summer.
There are so many different types of
baskets – wall mounted, hanging, window boxes, planters – plenty of opportunity
to increase the flower and foliage of anyone’s garden courtyard or balcony.