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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Published: 1/11/2011

Indoor plant care just as fun

Since our outside plants are stuck in their winter slumber, it is time to focus our attention on indoor plants. Take advantage of the respite from the digging and weeding and have fun with potting and pinching.

Make an easy hanging topiary with a metal mesh food storage basket. These triple decker catch-alls can hold just about anything. My mother-in-law used to keep her onions handy at the sink in a mesh basket. Give the onion baskets new life by adding a few houseplants.

The first step is to line each basket with moistened sheet moss. Shape it to the sides of your basket with the dark green side showing through the mesh. Make sure the plant is tucked into a small plastic pot, then slide the pot into the hanging baskets, but you will need to make a liner to keep them from dripping all over your counter. Some flower shops have thin plastic liners that will work. Sometimes the lid of a plastic butter dish will fit. Make sure it fits snugly in the basket. It is there to catch the water that drains from the soil.

Line each of the mesh baskets with this sheet moss and liner. Once that is done, you are ready for some plants.

Find three containers that will fit in each of the basket liners and make sure they have holes in the bottom. The plants should be potted in these containers. If you have a large basket, you may be able to fit three smaller plants into the same basket for a little variety. Another added benefit for smaller single pots, is that it makes one plant easier to replace if it doesn't survive. You can easily pull it out and toss it on the compost pile and then replace it with a fresh plant.

Hang the three basket planter from the ceiling with an anchor that will be able to handle the weight of a few houseplants. You will need something more substantial than just a few finish nails or a small screw. It should be able to hold at least ten pounds.

The top basket is the smallest. Fill this one first. Use a small plant that will grow up and out, rather than hang over the edge. Try stonecrop or plant seeds like basil or catnip.

Plant the middle basket next. A colorful, eye-catching plant will look great. Gesneriaceae would be fun. It also is known as a goldfish plant. Its red blossoms look like little red gold fish darting in and out of the coral. Rabbit's-foot fern or davalliaceae has delicate foliage that would fill this space with wispy green leaves. Try some purple sage or a big violet. This is also a great place to use a hanging plant like a spider plant or ivy if you don't use one in the bottom basket. Just make sure the plant doesn't hang down in front of your plant in the lower basket.

The bottom basket will plant something that will hang. Since it is at your eye-level, it is also a great place to plant something seasonal. I like to fill it with ivy, spider plant, or pothos.

Just to give your hanging plants a little kick start, pinch off some of the budding ends. By doing some pinching, you are activating the roots. They will get off to a better start with a stronger foundation. Now, take a step back and check out your handy work. Keep an eye out for other unique containers for those houseplants like a rustic old tool box, pitchers, or even decorative boxes. Get that imagination going. We are working on a new landscape plan soon.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at kheidbreder@theblade.com.



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