Hanging Baskets


An embarrassment of deadness.

I love hanging baskets. A porch is not a porch to me without beautiful, overflowing baskets hanging from the posts. Back in the olden days, I spent a pretty penny buying baskets every year. Since I started doing things like making my own homemade mixes and milking a cow, I pot up my own hanging baskets. This is my third year reusing these bird-nest-like baskets.

I like the kind of natural, organic, bird-nest-ish look to them. I actually originally bought them pre-potted.

The plants they came with didn’t really do that well (especially some kind of grassy thing that was in the middle of each one). I’ve seen since that you can buy these bird-nest-ish (what IS the right word??) hanging baskets without the plants. That’s what I’ll do when I need to replace these, which I will eventually.

The downside of using this type of hanging basket versus a plain plastic one is that the roots of the plants get all into the bird-nest-ish material. It’s really difficult to remove the old plants without tearing out some of the basket material, too, so they’re going to wear thin at some point. I make a huge mess cleaning them out, and it’s a little frustrating, which probably explains why I leave the abomination of deadness hanging there all winter and don’t clean them out until it’s time to repot them. Mid-May is the last freeze date here, so while some of you may have had hanging baskets out for a couple of months, it’s just now time here.

They clean out pretty good, after some effort. I felt a little disgusting, though, as every time I tugged real hard on a clod of rootbound goop, it would finally come free from the basket with that sudden burst that has you falling backward and dirt flying like the pot just exploded. I broomed myself off, too, then it was time to load in some fresh potting soil and get to the fun part!

It was worth all the dirt to get there. When I pot my own hanging baskets, I like to use a variety of vining, trailing stuff, with a punch of color in the middle–some kind of blooming something. Last year, I tried wave petunias. I waved at them all summer and they never once waved back, so no more of them. This year I have some regular petunias. They aren’t promising to wave or anything, so I shouldn’t be disappointed. Weston gave them to me for Mother’s Day, so I hope I don’t kill them.

There’s some salvia there, too, but that’s going in a regular pot with the leftover petunias. I like to pot all four of my front porch hanging baskets with the same plants. I like variety within the pots, but then I like uniformity across the four pots. (There’s a lot of contradiction in my personality.) For the vining, trailing plants, I like to mix up the colors and textures. I got some light green sweet potato vines.

This is “Emerald Lace” Swedish ivy.

It has darker, more rubbery leaves with tiny white flowers. For my third trailer, I got one of my favorites–vinca vine.

Vinca is dependable and familiar. I’ve tried sweet potato vine before, too–with success–but this is my first time trying Swedish ivy.

In each basket, I loaded in one of everything.

Of the viney stuff, that is. I’ll use two petunias to each pot.

For goodness sake, don’t forget to break up the pot-bound roots, SUZANNE!

The puppy helps as much as he can.

Which mostly involves running off with a petunia bloom.

Which makes me hurry up and–

–get the petunias in there and–

–get these baskets hanging where they’ll be safe!


Safe is perhaps a relative term…..

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 19, 2010  

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41 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 5-19

    They look lovely! I especially like the Swedish Ivy. Did you remember to leave a 5th one as a rooster seat?

  2. 5-19

    My downs stairs neighbor—who can ram a broomstick in the ground and make it grow—uses coco mats to line his hanging pots. Looks a lot like what you have. He replaces the mats every year or two and then loads the pots up with petunias. Starting in mid-summer they give off a lovely fragrance in the evening. He doesn’t allow his pet chickens to roost in the pots…. No roosters allowed within city limits.

  3. 5-19

    p.s. city = Chicago!

  4. 5-19

    Hi Suzanne, I used to have them as well and what I did to prevent the root-trouble-thing is put a plastic container of the same size and shape inside the ‘birdsnest’ and put all the soil and plants in the plastic container. It will be completely hidden by the birdsnest and also prevents too much dehydration from the sun and it’s no problem at all to clean them out the following year.

  5. 5-19

    :D You can get replacement “birdnest” fillers at JoAnn’s or Walmart. JoAnn’s (crafts and fabrics) puts them on sale frequently. If you should break off a piece of your sweet potato vine, they will root wonderfully in a vase of water. Have you seen the purple one? Very nice contrast to green one.Your wave’s from previous may not have gotten enough sun?

  6. 5-19

    I like to line the inside of the fiber with a cut up black garbage bag. I punch one hole in the bottom for drainage. This solves the problem of the roots and also helps to keep the soil moist.
    I also swear by the water-holding crystals that you add to your soil, that stuff makes watering chores much easier!

  7. 5-19

    They look great! :purpleflower:
    I line my hanging baskets with conifer cuttings – they stay green for a good while and they’re free! I put a disc of polythene in the bottom on top of the conifer but below the compost to retain moisture.

  8. 5-19

    Your baskets turned out very pretty. I remember when my grandmother used to put real sweet potato in a container to which she added a little water and grew the vine as a houseplant. That was about 1940; I don’t know if people still do that.

  9. 5-19

    Very pretty! They’re coconut mats. I love them and the birds do too….I see them pulling mine apart to make their nests.

    I’ve never thought to line the inside with anything! Thank you Richelle and Lisa!

    And I hope the rooster stays out of your new pretty pots!!!

  10. 5-19

    If you have a Dollar General store near they might have these. I saw them at our in PA a few times. The Walmart has them. JoAnn fabrics too. And JoAnn’s always has a 1/2 off sale or sometimes more off on these. So watch for the garden sales there.

    We are late getting in any plants at my house also. With all the cold and rain there has been no good time. I think my hubby and I are going to tackle the gardens this weekend.

  11. 5-19

    To followup-up on Diane, I think you can also get the plastic liners for the cocoanut fiber baskets at both Walmart and Jo-Anns.

    I just bought plants myself yesterday. I have big pots on the porch that I replant every year.

    That ruffled purple petunia is lovely. For some reason, I never have much success with petunias, although the old guy I buy my plants from insists they are one of the easiest plants to grow. I always forget to fertilize them, which he reminds me to do every year. I am much better with geraniums!

  12. 5-19

    Lovely! I can’t have hanging baskets. Its just too windy where I live. I have tried having them in the past and they just end up blown off the hook no matter how I affix them. I thought Swedish ivy was a house plant. Or at least it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. Wonder if its the same plant.

  13. 5-19

    i love hanging baskets, they are country charm at its finest. here in florida the heat dictates what flowers or plants we can have. because of the heat people tend to over water.here is a trick to water the right amount and line the bottom with plastic. pampers diapers with the gel core hold alot of water . i simply use the new born size,add soil on top ,put in plants and water.the roots seek out the water.how to know when to water?, when the basket is alot lighter in weight.i cant remember where i aquired this info, but believe me it works.

  14. 5-19

    That rooster in that hanging basket made me laugh out loud!!! I love that ruffley petunia…I don’t think I have seen that one here in my local Lowes. Very pretty!

  15. 5-19

    Trish! That Pampers idea is great! We have those ! lol


  16. 5-19

    I have read about using sheep’s wool to line hanging baskets. I have never tried it – not having access to a sheep to shear – but it was being touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to spagnum moss which is most often used to line baskets in the UK. It insulates well so protects from extremes of heat or cold and retains the moisture well because of the natural oils in the fleece. As you have a sheep, this would be a freebie for you. Or perhaps you have other uses for the fleece?

  17. 5-19

    I use these baskets, too, and line them with black plastic garbage bags with holes punched in, too. Hang them down the end of my driveway on a big sign DH made with our names on it. I love the idea of Pampers, but I’m afraid what the checkout girl at the store will think if I buy them…

  18. 5-19

    Your baskets look beautiful Suzanne. I love that pamper idea Trish! Thanks!

    I always go with ferns for out front porch because I get little to no sunlight there.

  19. 5-19

    I like the pampers idea, but I don’t have access to any without buying a whole pack. Would femimine napkins work?

  20. 5-19

    I was going to tell you to line the coconut baskets with plastic too but I see others beat me to it! It really does work as long as you remember to poke plenty of drainage holes. Have you noticed most trailing houseplants have become popular for outdoor gardening? My favorite is asparagus fern. I can’t wait to see your baskets in full bloom!

  21. 5-19

    I love Sweet Potato Vines. I plant them in my pots every year! I love the light green, it is so vibrant!

  22. 5-19

    Coco liners work great in your compost too because they make air pockets and hold moisture.

    Seeing pots like that first one make me laugh–That is how my houseplants look coming home from the store. They are green lush and beautiful in the store, but it doesn’t take me long to kill it! Thank goodness I don’t have a problem like that in the outside garden! :snoopy:

  23. 5-19

    I love hanging baskets, but they usually look so scraggly(is that a word?) by late summer. We are gone alot horsecamping and trail riding and they don’t get the proper watering. I think I will try the pamper thing and see if that helps this year. Thanks for the great tips ladies!

  24. 5-19

    oh, I see double petunias :purpleflower: . I just love them. Hard to find up here in New york any more. Brings me back to growing up. My mom always planted them in front of our house while growing up. I had a bed I planted with marigolds in the yard. If planted them in the ground here the slugs would just eat them. Lots of slugs around here. Your plants look beautiful. I am planting this weekend. Linda

  25. 5-19

    I would love to put some hanging baskets on our porch, but it faces north so they would get very little sun. I see someone said to plant ferns for little sun. Any suggestions on what kind?

  26. 5-19

    Impatiens do not like a lot of sun, so you might try those in your north-facing baskets too.

  27. 5-19

    Beware the ivy and vines!! Don’t let them go to seed or put them in your compost as your yard will be taken over by them… ask me how I know this!! They are lovely but they will create a lot of work for you next year if you aren’t careful.

  28. 5-19

    Am I the only one who is deeply concerned that it is a ROOSTER that is nesting in the basket? I’m thinkin’ he’s going to be in there a VERY long time before he lays an egg…

  29. 5-19

    I’m going to try the pampers too. I plant a lot of marigolds around the yard. I have heard it keeps snakes away. Each year i plant them and so far so good.

  30. 5-19

    My vine-y part is going to be tarragon, then some thyme but I’d like a pretty flowery herb for show. Can’t think of one, any suggestions?

    I will also plant a flowery one that smells good but I haven’t decided what yet. Guess whatever is cheap at WalMart. :lol:

  31. 5-19

    Looking good. I got replacement coconut fiber baskets @ Dollar Tree this year. I noticed that the tufted titmice did a pretty thorough job on a couple of last years baskets. I planted purple salvia, yellow & purple pansies & impatiens in my hanging baskets this year. what a great idea for lining them. wish I’d seen this before I did them. lol.

  32. 5-19

    Haha. Chicken in the hanging pot. That’s great!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    I think I want to try some pots this year. :)

  33. 5-19

    One more thing Suzanne. I take the tuber from the sweet potato vine and replant them next year bring them in just as you would dahlias and dry them out and keep in a cool spot. and I also bring in a couple of vinca vines and keep them all winter just give them hair cut over the winter then break them up to plant in my pots the following summer also I keep my geraniums i will combine them in one large pot and then in spring break off stems and root them in water or keep them in damp soil. plants are getting expensive so I try to find ways to save. I love my flowers. :purpleflower:

  34. 5-19

    Not only do I love the CITR website, but this column was just TOO FUNNY! From petunias, to Pampers, to Kotex, to roosters laying eggs…..I haven’t laughed this hard in days! Ya’ll are WONDERFUL, and you have some fantastic ideas! (BTW, my roosters haven’t laid a single egg, either! LOL!) Gotta go now, so I can buy some Pampers……. :lol:

  35. 5-20

    The Rooster in the basket has everyone at work cracking up….loved it….

  36. 5-20

    Just tell the checkout girl at Walmart that you are buying Pampers for a baby shower gift! LOL

    BTW, Suzanne, I have plenty of vinca vine that “escaped” from my planter in my front flower bed. You are welcome to come over and take ALL the VINCA VINCE YOU WANT!!! (double LOL)

  37. 5-22

    Your hanging baskets look fabulous, especially the one with the rooster! :yes:

  38. 5-25

    An inexpensive way to “line” the baskets is to use paper coffee pot filters (new or used works). No need to poke holes for drainage like you would if you use plastic. I use coffee filters to cover the drainage holes in the bottom of all my flower pots too – works great.

  39. 2-14

    :D Hi Suzanne, I know this post was last May, I have spent hours reading your whole site. I have a question, do you know how to start a vine from the potato plant? When I was a kid my mom always have sweet potato vines in her kitchen window. If I remember right she would put the end that was attached to the root (I think) in a jar or glass of water. I just don’t remember and she is in the final stages of dementia. I have been wondering this for awhile now and when I saw your post I figured if anyone would know it would be you!!

  40. 2-14

    Mountain Blessings, see my Garden post for today about growing sweet potato vines–would be the same thing.

  41. 7-13

    Yeah…I have a few rather gruesome hanging baskets myself…STILL! Wiry, black, former petunias…a once-lovely fern now dropping crispy brown precipitation on my back porch. Being in Texas, it’s the only precipitation I’ve seen lately.. :?

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