Container Gardening – Ideas for Hanging Flower Baskets, Garden Pots and Planters
Container Gardening – Ideas for:
Hanging Flower Baskets
Hanging flower baskets are traditionally seen in front porches, but they can also brighten courtyards and patios. Half baskets can be hung from walls, or full baskets suspended from beams. But it must be remembered that when large hanging flower baskets are filled they are heavy to handle.
The basket should be lined with tightly-packed sphagnum moss, followed by a layer of fibrous loam, and filled with a good, such as John Innes No. 3, or one of the newer peat-based composts.
Black polythene is an alternative to moss and should not look unsightly once the plants have grown. If moss is used, a saucer should be placed on the layer of moss at the bottom to provide a reservoir of water life-saving in hot weather.
Planting must be done firmly, and at least 12mm (1/2in) left between the surface and the rim of the basket, to allow for watering. After planting, the basket may be soaked in water, drained off and hung up out of draughts.
Watering can be a problem. Baskets dry out quickly when exposed to sun and wind, and need to be watered daily during the summer. It may be necessary to take the basket down once a week for a good soak; and a syringe with water each evening in hot weather will be appreciated.
Suitable plants. Most window box plants grow fairly well in baskets, but theexcels itself, particularly ‘Cascade’ (single white flushed carmine with a deep carmine corolla).
stolonifera (mother of thousands), the tiny baby’s tears (Helxine solierolii, now more correctly known as Soleirolia soleirolii), and Campanula isophylla, all adapt to life in a hanging flower basket.
Trailers that grow leggy and untidy can be pegged back discreetly into the moss with a paperclip or hairpin.
Garden Pots and Planters, Tubs and Troughs
Window planters and hanging flower baskets have already been discussed, but anyone having a patio or courtyard will probably want to plant up other garden pots and planters, such asand tubs.
Such gardening containers have the great merit that they can be moved around from season to season, rather like rearranging the furniture in a room, to provide a changing scene in the light of experience and to suit changing moods. Such rearrangement should, needless to say, be done before planting up, and preferably when the containers are empty.
Tubs are rewarding containers for the paved town garden, for they require little space, and look at home on a verandah, or almost any odd corner. Even the front doorstep will suffice.
There is a wide range of materials from which to choose, and both personal preferences and price must play a part in the final decision.
There are well-designed garden pots and planters in reconstituted stone, glass-fibre and other materials, but wood still has much to commend it. Unlike some other materials it does not heat up excessively in baking sun; nor does it splinter and crack when moisture seeps into cracks and freezes, as can happen with terracotta or earthenware containers. The other great merit of wood is that the container can be made to fit a particular space.
Lovely tubs made from teak or oak can be bought, but the home handyman should be able to make a suitable tub or trough with a little imagination. By treating the timber with a suitable preservative (be sure it is one that doesn’t affect plants and don’t use a creosote), a life of many years can be expected.
The return of the converted beer barrel for growing strawberries has aroused a great deal of interest, but the technique need not be confined to strawberries. About six drainage holes should be cut or burnt into the bottom of the barrel and the top removed. The inside should be treated with a horticultural-grade wood preservative, then holes cut in the side of the barrel to take the plants. These should be at least 60cm (2ft) from the base of the barrel. Two tiers should be sufficient for a small barrel, three at most for a large one. The openings should be staggered at each level.
Planting begins with a 15cm (6in) foundation of crocks, followed by a layer of fibrous soil. As the openings are reached, the plants should be packed in with moss to prevent soil being washed away. The top is kept for the larger plants and can be planted effectively with aubrietas or various dianthus.
Water may be applied through a porous tube driven discreetly down into the centre of the barrel. This will ensure moisture reaches the lowest plants.
Size of Your Garden Pots and Planters
Always be generous with the depth of any container; the plants will be less likely to dry out and will thrive better. Diameter is not so critical forand small perennials or bulbs, but for permanent shrubs it should be at least 38cm (1-1/4ft).
Soil in containers of all kinds dries out more quickly than the soil in open ground. Never underestimate the amount of watering that may be involved, and only plant as many tubs or other containers as you will be able to keep watered regularly without undue effort.
In hot summer weather, it may be necessary to water every day, and a hosepipe will take much of the physical effort out of the job.
Feeding should not be overlooked. It is wise to feed regularly throughout the growing season, preferably by adding a liquid fertilizer to the watering operation.
Garden pots and planters should also be top-dressed once or twice a year, scraping away the tired surface soil and replacing it with a good loam and leaf-mould mixture. Two spring dressings may be necessary, allowing a month between applications.
Tubs should be kept on the dry side in winter, as dry roots are less vulnerable to frost than wet ones.
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