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franklin county times

Duplicating the expensive look of hanging baskets

By Staff
May 6, 2001
Dear Gardener,
I really love the hanging baskets containing several different plants. The only drawback for me is how expensive they are to purchase already planted. How can I duplicate the look?
Dear Reader,
There are advantages buying pre-planted baskets and there are advantages to planting your own. Pre-planted baskets are great for people who do not feel comfortable picking a variety of plants to combine or do not have the time to plant the basket. Also you can count on the fact that these baskets have been growing in a greenhouse somewhere for at least a month; so, they have filled out and already look great. This greenhouse time also accounts for the greater expense. Someone has been watering and fertilizing them for a while.
Now there are also great advantages to planting your own baskets. You can choose your own variety of plants to display; they are much less expensive to plant; and when they have filled out, you will have the pride in knowing you created that piece of work.
The baskets are very easy to duplicate at home. You'll need a short list of supplies. First on the shopping list is the baskets. You have several choices. The cheapest would be the simple plastic ones. Other choices vary from less cheap plastic varieties to elaborate wire contraptions. Packrats can even use the leftover baskets from last year. Just be sure to disinfect them with a water and bleach solution (10 to one).
The wire baskets are expensive, but they are a good investment in the long run. They are especially fun because small plants can be stuffed in some of the holes in the bottom. If using the wire baskets you will need something to line them. I prefer sheet moss or sphagnum to the pre-formed liners. I think it looks more natural.
Next you'll need some good potting soil and your plants. Also if the basket is going to be in full sun, you might want to buy some water releasing granules. They will save you a lot of watering time.
When choosing plants, look for ones that have the same water and sunlight requirements. Try to purchase some trailing varieties for the outside of the pot and one or two upright plants for the center. Go wild and have fun. Remember this is your creation.
I know you are thinking how many plants do I need. Well, that depends on the size of the plants. If you are buying plants that are grown in a six pack, you may need a couple of six packs per basket. I like to pack my plants in for effect.
Water frequently being sure not to let your baskets dry completely. Fertilize at least every other week with a water-soluble fertilizer. Then sit back and watch your creation grow.
Dear Gardener,
I am planning on planting potatoes this year. Do I have to buy seed potatoes? Why can't I simply plant potatoes that I get from the grocery store?
Dear Reader,
I really urge you to buy certified seed potatoes. The certification assures you that they are disease free. Leftover potatoes from a previous year's crop may be harboring diseases that are not noticeable.
I would advise against planting grocery store potatoes in your garden also. They may have been treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting. It would be more expensive this way too. Seed potatoes are very inexpensive.
Amelia O'Brian, a native of Meridian, holds a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. To submit a question, write From the Potting Bench, c/o The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. Or, visit her on the Web at www.thepottingbench.webprovider.com.