Hanging Basket Plant Ideas
The popularity of hanging baskets, outdoor planter boxes, and window
boxes makes it necessary that you should know a little about the type of
plants your customers will want to purchase for use in these garden
“areas.” Almost any of the small vines, or trailers—Vinca ma\or, hoya,
wandering Jew, trailing petunias, begonias, and ivy geranium—will do
beautifully. The upright geraniums often are depended upon to furnish
the bulk of bloom for both types of planters. Most of the small bedding
plants also are good.
Asparagus Fern (Asparagus plumosus)
These can be grown from seed but the seedlings are the victims of so
many insect pests that it is better to purchase small plants in February
and grow them on in the warm house for spring and early summer sales.
Feathery green trailing growth, plus small white flowers which often
produce small red fruits, make this a froth of green for the window box
or planter. Here it is seldom bothered with pests unless the season is
exceptionally hot and dry, then it may become infested with red spider.
If you have old plants left over, you can divide them with a sharp
knife, potting up the pieces of long white tubers and foliage in 4-inch
pots of greenhouse soil. They also make wonderful hanging basket plants
for the patio or greenhouse.
Nearly everyone knows the little wax begonia (B. semper-florens), with
its shiny leaves and white, pink, or red flowers. You can purchase a
large plant of the wax begonia and propagate most of your own stock
through cuttings grown in the warm house, buy small potted plants for
retail, or grow these fibrous-rooted begonias from seed. The procedure
from seed is like that for most house plants, (page 112).
Equally good for window boxes are the hanging basket types of
tuberous-rooted begonias. The single or double flowers range from white
and yellow through pink, salmon, and red.
Most gardeners think of dracaena as a house plant but it makes a good
tough item for outdoor planting in summer. And you can always tell your
customers it serves double duty. When the window box season has
finished, it can be dug up, potted, and used as a house plant.
This is another item I believe is best purchased as small potted plants.
You won’t want too many to start with—probably no more than 2 dozen—and
they are low priced. D. fragrans has green leaves but many varieties
have striped and speckled foliage. There’s D. Massangeana with a wide
golden stripe along the leaf midrib; D. Godseffiana, with flecks of
white on its foliage; D. Goldieana has green and silver foliage; and D.
Sanderianq, a slender plant, with glossy green leaves margined white.
If you have plants left over, you can propagate more from tip, stem, or
root cuttings struck in a propagating bed or case. They must be grown in
the warm house.
The dwarf form of heliotrope, with its heads of blue or white flowers,
makes a wonderful plant for window box or planter (and is fine also for
bedding or as an accent plant).
Heliotrope is easily grown from cuttings taken in the fall. These are
sold in pots the following spring. Grow the cuttings in any medium you
prefer, in a warm house. As soon as they are well rooted you can plant
them in 3-inch pots of greenhouse soil. When the plants reach the height
you want, cut out the top so the plant will branch.
Often called the wax plant or Swedish ivy, this plant with its heavy,
glossy, green or variegated leaves and huge clusters of waxy white or
pink flowers makes a marvelous summer window box plant. And it, too,
serves double duty. In the fall it can be brought into the house and
used in a hanging basket or trained up the side of a window.
It’s best to buy this one as rooted cuttings; pot them in rich soil, and
grow them in the warm house. You probably won’t want to start out with
more than twenty-five. If you keep some over and want them to flower in
your greenhouse, do not take tip cuttings. The blooms form on the tips
and after the plants have flowered, they will produce a second-year
flower crop on these same tips.
Here’s another plant which doubles for window box and in¬door garden.
The green foliage is bordered or striped with white or yellow.
As a starter, buy un-rooted cuttings and root them in flats of light
soil mixture at 65 degrees F. When they are rooted, in about 3 weeks,
pot in 3-inch pots. Plants started in March are ready for later spring
Although generally reserved for greenhouse decoration, thunbergia makes
a good trailer for the window box. Its flowers, produced freely
throughout the summer, are white, cream, orange red, and in shades of
Thunbergia, called clock vine, is easily propagated through cuttings or
seed sown in the spring in the warm house. Pot up into 2-inch pots as
soon as the cuttings or seedlings can be easily handled.
Wishbone Plant (Torenia)
Small gloxinia-like flowers in white and yellow, plain yellow, or blue
and white, and tiny green leaves, plus a trailing habit when grown in
partial shade, make the wishbone plant unusual material for the window
box, planter, or hanging basket.
In warmer areas of the country, this one is handled as many northern
gardeners handle pansies.
Sow the seeds in March in loose soil and grow in the warm house. Do not
let seedlings dry out—they may not revive. As soon as you can handle
them, perhaps mid-April, plant them in 3-inch pots of porous soil.