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Hanging baskets are a form of plant container that can be hung from building structures, poles, walls, frames, etc., to keep plants off the ground. They are usually used for decorative purposes but may have a useful purpose in some cases, such as keeping plants away from ground pests or finding more space to grow food in a small or garden-less living environment.
Hanging baskets are not made of basketry alone; they are often made from wire or other metallic materials, plastic or composite materials, and lined with coir, sphagnum moss or other matting. Many hanging baskets have a small saucer device attached to catch the water.
Where to place hanging baskets
Hanging baskets can be used both indoors and outdoors. Many hanging baskets are used under patios, a hybrid indoor and outdoor placement. If used indoors, extra care must be taken to hang where water splashes or spillage won't damage interior furniture and furnishings.
Hanging baskets should be hung safely. Whatever is holding the basket in place needs to be strong enough to keep both the plant and its heavy soil load safely in place. Also avoid hanging anywhere that people walk, as it's not always evident to people walking through that they need to duck for hanging baskets. Pay attention to locating hanging baskets where they won't be subjected to high winds or anything that might knock them about.
What to grow in hanging baskets
While the main tradition for hanging basket plants is to grow flowers, ferns or indoor plants that beautify the environment, they can also be used for edibles, such as herbs, small salad vegetables and strawberries.
Keeping plants healthy in hanging baskets
A key thing to keeping plants healthy in hanging baskets is to remember to water them regularly. This may involve taking the basket down and watering it or using a specialised watering tool that squeezes water into the plant above via a small pipe coming out of the watering bottle. Overhead sprayers may work in some locations, which can be especially useful if set to a regular watering timer.
Keep in mind that the baskets may need to be watered twice daily if outdoors in hot weather, as the soil can dry out quickly.
Spent blooms need to be deadheaded regularly in hanging baskets, otherwise the whole effect begins to look scraggly and messy. This also encourages new blooms in many flowering plants.
Some gardeners like to rotate hanging baskets to give the plants the best chance of getting sufficient sunlight from different positions.
Hanging baskets that are in an area where snow will accumulate in them should be brought inside or kept in the garden shed at the end of summer. There is a risk of the hanging element breaking if snow weights down the basket too much, and if you have a plant in it that will live but for winter, it's kindest to bring it indoors.
Useful hanging baskets
Hanging baskets can have particular uses, including:
- Adding decorative effects and colour to a building or outdoor entertainment area
- Creating an effect of greater height around certain parts of a building
- Growing plants that ward off insects (useful for outdoor entertainment areas)
- Growing kitchen garden salad vegetables and herbs
- In a crowded space, making more room for more plants above the ones already growing
Not all hanging baskets have to contain plants. They can also be useful for hanging up garden tools, everyday gadgets and useful household or garden items for ease of keeping and finding. They can be a great way to tidy up garden sheds and sort things such as seed packets, gardening gloves and small gardening tools.