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smokey847 07-20-2012 10:35 AM

Low-Maintenance Plants for Hanging Planters
Snagged some beautiful metal hanging planters from a thrift store. They are the type that will require a straw liner. I would like to hang these on my front porch and would like some easy, low-maintenance plants or flowers that will come back every year. Any suggestions?

user1007 07-21-2012 06:43 AM

Use to be head designer for a nursery specializing in hanging basket, container, and intimate gardens.

I would plan on replanting your baskets every year. Perennials will just get pot bound and lanky looking if you can get them to survive over the winter. You might get lucky pulling them out and root pruning but you will be happier planting on a seasonal basis. Your soil will also break down and turn on you over time unless you turn it, fold in ammendments and nutrients, etc. It is easier just to replace it every year.

That said, we used to do some nice evergreen baskets but with minimal blooming plants.

Since baskets dry out so easily, think about adding water retention gel to your planting mix. If you can, hide drip irrigation to water the baskets.

I can give you a plant list if you tell me whether these are going in shade or sunlight. A good book or two on hanging basket and container gardening will also have great ideas.

smokey847 07-22-2012 07:31 PM

They will probably be in full to moderate sun. I like the idea of greenery. Thanks for the advice in advance!

Plump 07-24-2012 03:14 PM

I'm in the park business myself and would love to find a low maintenance, perennial option.....alas, there isn't. That does allow, through, for a lot of experimenting and fun. It usually doesn't cost too much to buy a flat of annuals and put them together in various manners. Have fun with it.

The baskets won't need a lot of maintenance once they're planted. Just make sure to watch water. The newer moisture release potting mixes are a must to keep the maintenance issues to a minimum. Have fun!

user1007 07-24-2012 05:32 PM

Well then. Some of the needle point ivy varieties are especially nice in baskets. Most groundcovers actually do pretty well in them and tend to cascade since they have no ground to cover. Vinca comes to mind. Things like star jasmine or honeysuckle (non-invasive varieties that are not banned please!) would add some fragrance. Ornamental strawberries will provide nice leaf texture, flowers and edible berries if you have the patience to pick the little suckers. Full size strawberries snuck into plantings of annuals can be nice.

Best to think about what you want the look to be. As mentioned, annuals or even perennials treated as annuals, in flats are not going to be a major expense each season. I guess in Nashville you might get some hardy perennials to winter over but you are going to be fighting root problems in short order aiming for any sort of permanent plantings. No reason you couldn't use the baskets for growing perennials to go elsewhere in the garden though.

Again, water is your biggest challenge and I encourage you again to think about hiding a drip system and running micro tubes to the baskets. It will make at a snap to fertilize too with a cheap fertilizer injector. Remember, save for the insulation of the moss or whatever liner and a bit of potting soil, you expose all sides of the basket to drying winds. I did a hanging basket system for friends up on the volcano ridge above Albuquerque decades ago that they still love and enjoy today and their baskets always look glorious. The system is on a simple timer so they can go on vacation too!

Also as stressed, get potting soil with water retaining gel or the actual gel and add to your mix. Your garden center will have things like WiltPruf you can mix and spray on newly planted baskets or in weather extremes to reduce moisture aspiration through the leaves due to heat, wind, or frost.

Can you post pictures of the planters you found? I would love to see them.

Remember you can plant baskets other than just from the top down. Just cut clean holes for the plants and patch with spanghum moss to hold in place.

You seem to love thinking about container gardens and hanging baskets. Perhaps their is a new career hiding in all this for you. The place I worked for made an absolute killing (the ivy chandeliers we sold for a sinful amount cost us next to nothing). The consulting practice I ran out of the place got top dollar and fueled plant sales. Unfortunately, the owners were stealing consigned antiques part of the operation so it folded.

smokey847 07-28-2012 03:13 PM

You are correct--I love the look of container gardening. In abundance, I think it adds instant character and, if done correctly, can look rather stately. Who knows! I could always use that career as a backup plan, given the current economic state! I ended up running by Home Depot to gather supplies for another project yesterday and spotted a clearance rack with plants (I can't resist a sale). I ended up buying two pots of a purple perennial (unlabeled) and some Wormwood Silk Mound ground cover to fill in. I planted them in moisture-retaining soil. I would love to install a drip system, but just do not think I have it in me--I just know nothing about them, plus there is no power conveniently located in relation to these pots without running unsightly wires. I provided a picture to give you an idea. Very simple setup, but adds something to our front porch. Thanks for the continual advice and suggestions! I'm sure it will not be long until I embark on my next project.

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