Hanging plants add an interesting design element to a room or porch, by drawing the eye up and really showcasing the plant. In the strictest sense, growing a plant in a hanging basket is the same as growing it in a grounded pot. However, before you plan an ambitious Babylon of your own, be aware there are several factors to caring for hanging plants to consider that will protect your home and make the whole experience easier.
The Weight Question
A hanging basket or pot 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—make sure they are firmly anchored in wall studs or ceiling joists. If you have existing hooks, test them before hanging anything.
Your choice of potting media will also make a difference. Most bagged potting soils are heavy with peat, or composted sphagnum peat, as the primary ingredient. Peat has excellent water retention qualities, but it weighs more. If weight is a consideration, reduce the weight of your peat mix by adding perlite. This will also increase drainage, so you'll have to water more often and be more careful not to drip from the basket.
Protecting Indoor Floors and Furniture
Hanging baskets present multiple opportunities for disaster, but probably the most common problem is water drainage. The coconut fiber liners that work so well outside are unsuited for indoor use because water runs straight through them. The two best options for indoor baskets are:
- A pot within a pot: This versatile and easy set-up allows you to easily switch out your hanging plants. The outer, decorative basket is completely sealed—no drainage holes at all—and it has chains or rope fastened directly to it for hanging. Place your potted plants inside, and viola, a hanging garden. The major disadvantage here is it may be difficult to reach over the lip of the outside pot while watering, and it is heavier.
- The attached tray: This is how most hanging baskets are sold in garden centers. A plastic basket comes with an attached drip trap. The wires or ropes attach to the basket itself. While this is lighter and more economical, the problem is usually the size of the drip tray. Very small trays allow very little room for error. Even a little too much water and you end up muddy water dripping onto your floors.
There's no doubt that watering is the hardest part of caring for a hanging plant. 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. This, however, requires far more ambition than most homeowners are. In most cases, a step-ladder and a long-neck watering can take care of your watering needs. If drainage is a persistent problem, or you have white carpets, it might be a good idea to take the plant outside for its weekly watering, weather permitting.
Remember that air nearer the ceiling tends to warmer and drier than air at the floor, so take this into account. Your hanging plants may need a little more water than your more terrestrial plants.