Garden Life

Hanging greens
Kiran Narain

The basket should have a reasonably close weave to hold the plant
The basket should have a reasonably close weave to hold the plant

MADE of galvanised wire, wood or terracotta, hanging baskets make a good container for the display of trailing plants. This allows the fullest possible view of the plant at eye level. Generally used for hanging in balconies, windows, corridors, hallways or the greenhouse, these can look beautiful when filled with a combination of flowering or evergreen foliage plants.

It is the container rather than the choice of plant that may pose a few problems. Firstly, it has to be located at a place and height where people do not bump into it. Secondly, dripping may not only be irritating, but can also spoil the surface underneath. A waterproof liner or a saucer-type receptacle can be used to keep the water from dripping on the carpet, rug or floor. Thirdly, the weight of the basket, which could be as much as 25 kg with a plant and watered soil, may prove to be too heavy to hang thus creating a hazard. Hence care should be taken to inspect the strength of the hook and chains as well as the surface from where the baskets are going to be suspended before deciding to put them up.

There is wide choice of plants that look good in hanging baskets. However, the grower would be the best judge to choose them according to the final location to be chosen.

Some of the flowering plants which will need a good amount of light that may be good for balconies and windows are begonias, brachycome, ivy geraniums, impatieiens, (busy lizzies), lobelia, nasturtium and petunias.

Usually trailing green plants are used for the hanging baskets. Asparagus, sprengeni (with its fresh green and graceful drooping foliage), Chlorophytum capense variegatum (spider plant), ferns, ficus pimula (specially suited for a dark corners), money plant, saxifrage sarmentosa (mother of thousands), Swedish ivy, Syngonium and wandering Jew make good subjects for hanging containers and add charm to the environment.

The basket you choose should have a reasonably close weave and should not be rusted. For easier handling, it may be a good idea to place the hanging basket on top of a large pot and line it with moist sphagnum moss making an even lining without any gaps.

If moss is not readily available, the basket may be lined with the gardeners plastic mesh (fine) or even perforated plastic sheet. Fill the bottom with compost and place some of the plants or seeds (like in case of masturtium) through the sides of the basket and firm their roots in compost. Fill the remainder of the basket till about an inch or two below the rim and plant the final plant on the top of the basket remembering to allow room for them to grow and develop naturally. Plants that are kept moist and fed regularly make rapid progress.