Hanging plants can add an interesting design element to a room or outdoor space by drawing the eye up and showcasing the plant. In general, how to care for hanging plants indoors and outdoors is the same as growing plants in grounded pots. However, there are several factors to be aware of, including how to water indoor hanging plants without dripping and when to bring outdoor hanging baskets inside.
Here's what you need to know to maintain hanging baskets.
Hanging Plant Care Tips
How to care for hanging baskets depends largely on the individual plant's needs. So always check the care label on any plant you're putting in a hanging basket. To prevent your hanging plant from dying, follow these general care tips:
- Use a quality potting mix that's suitable for your plant species.
- In a mixed arrangement within the same basket, group plants with similar care needs. But do not overcrowd plants; note the species' mature sizes.
- Water regularly, keeping in mind that potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than plants in the ground, but avoid overwatering your hanging baskets.
- Fertilize as needed, following the plant species' feeding recommendations.
- Deadhead (remove spent blooms) flowering plants to encourage further blooming.
- Trim back leggy foliage to promote a neater, bushier appearance and fresh, healthy growth.
- Note the temperature requirements for your hanging plants, and bring perennials inside to overwinter as soon as cold temperatures are in the forecast. Also, bring hanging baskets inside or put them in a safe spot on the ground if there's a threat of severe weather knocking them down and damaging the plants.
There's no doubt that watering hanging plants is the hardest part of their care. If you have very large, heavy baskets, you can attach them to a simple pulley system that allows the entire basket to be lowered for watering. However, in most cases a stepladder or stool and a long-neck watering can will take care of your watering needs.
How often you water hanging plants depends on the species' moisture requirements. It's important to check the soil to see how dry it is before adding more water. Also, when you water indoor hanging plants, note that air tends to get warmer and drier as it rises toward the ceiling. So your hanging baskets might need a little more water than plants closer to the floor.
How to water outdoor hanging plants is similar to watering hanging plants indoors. Outdoors, though, you typically don't have to worry about drainage from the pot damaging what's below it because it will go into the ground or hit a weatherproof surface. But when you water indoor hanging plants, you will have to worry about dripping on the floor or furniture. One option is to take the whole plant outside for watering. But you also can use something to catch the water.
The Weight Question
A hanging basket full of wet soil and plant material can be heavy. Before you hang anything from your walls or ceiling, make sure the structure can hold the weight. Do not sink hooks straight into plaster or drywall; anchor them firmly in a wall stud or ceiling joist. If you have existing hooks, use a stud finder to make sure they're properly anchored.
Your choice of potting media will also make a difference for your hanging plant's weight. Most bagged potting mixes are heavy with peat, or composted sphagnum peat, as the primary ingredient. Peat has excellent water retention qualities, but it adds weight to a pot. You can reduce the weight of your peat mix by adding perlite. However, this will also increase drainage, so you'll have to water more often and be more careful about water dripping from the pot's drainage holes.
Protecting Indoor Floors and Furniture
Outdoor hanging baskets often have coconut fiber liners that allow water to run right through them, preventing the plants from becoming waterlogged. But that's not an option when you care for hanging plants indoors because you have to water them without dripping.
The two best options for indoor baskets to protect your floors and furniture are:
- A pot within a pot: In this versatile and easy setup, the outer pot should be impermeable to water. It can be a decorative pot if you'd like or just simple plastic. Within it, you'll nest an inner pot with drainage holes that holds your plant. A disadvantage to this setup is that whenever water runs out of the drainage holes, you'll have to promptly empty it from the outer pot to prevent root rot and fungal growth. And that can be cumbersome, as you'll have to take down your whole plant.
- An attached tray: A plastic basket with an attached drip tray is how most hanging baskets are sold at garden centers. The wires or ropes attach to the basket itself. The tray will catch water that runs out of the drainage holes. And in most cases you'll be able to remove just the tray without taking down the whole plant if you need to empty it. This setup is typically lighter and more economical than a pot within a pot. However, the attached trays are often quite small, allowing little room for error if you overwater. So there is still the potential that water will drip out of the pot.