If you don't have much - or any - backyard garden space, your thoughts might turn to hanging baskets. These can work in a small patio container garden or even on a fire escape. And that's hardly the only hanging basket advantages. But planting in hanging baskets isn't for every crop or every space. And some gardeners see a number of hanging basket drawbacks. Read on for info on hanging basket pros and cons so you'll have the info to make up your own informed decision.
Pros - Why Use Hanging Baskets
(Teo's viewpoint) The question isn't why use hanging baskets but more like why not? In addition to allowing one to enjoy plants that may otherwise not be able to for lack of space, there are many reasons to add hanging plants to your home and garden. Here are just a few more hanging basket advantages for the gardener to consider: No worrisome pests. When you use containers that hang to plant flowers, herbs or crops, you create a little planting area that is isolated from the rest of your garden. This allows you to spend more time admiring your handiwork and less time taking care of plant problems. For example, your garden soil can hold many unpleasant surprises. Bugs, slugs and snails are just a few of the pests that lurk at ground level. All these threats can be avoided with hanging baskets. Crawling insects and pests can't usually leap up to where a basket is suspended. And bigger mammals that take out your plants, like rabbits, raccoons, skunks and even deer, won't have easy access either. Less soil problems. Keeping your flowers and veggies in suspended containers is also a quick and easy solution to soil problems. As anyone knows who has planted an in-ground garden, soil can have a host of issues other than bugs. Ideally, fruits, flowers and vegetables prefer well-draining soil that includes some organic material. But backyard soil doesn't all look like this. Soil can be poor, rocky, overly sandy, highly acidic or alkaline, or composed largely of clay with extremely poor drainage. Yes, with time and energy, you can transform your garden bed, but maybe you don't have the time right now, or maybe you don't know how. One of the great hanging basket advantages is that you can buy a sack of organic potting soil and minutes later, your little planting space is ready for crops. Easy access. Another of the hanging basket pros is the ease of tending plants that see eye to eye with you. No more crawling on your knees to plant, thin or weed. Compact container plantings have few weeds, but any that appear can be readily plucked out while you stand nearby. If you have flowers in your hanging basket, deadheading is easy. If you plant strawberries, harvest is a snap. This makes hanging baskets excellent for children and also seniors who aren't as flexible as they used to be. Plus, you can move the basket into or out of the sun as the seasons turn.
Cons - Reasons Against Hanging Baskets
(Shelley's viewpoint) I like hanging baskets just as much as the next person. I'm always tempted, driving by a garden center, to stop and buy one of the hanging baskets beckoning to me. They are pure eye candy, spilling over with colorful, bountiful blooms and lush foliage. I then do a reality check and know that it will be difficult (at least for me) to maintain that splendor throughout the entire growing season, so I take one last wistful look and keep on driving. The next time you're trying to rationalize a hanging basket purchase, do what I do and think of the reasons against hanging baskets discussed below. Too high maintenance. Plants in hanging baskets actually need more TLC than plants situated in the ground. This is one of the biggest cons of hanging baskets. Many of us tend to leave hanging baskets"¦well"¦hanging! Hanging baskets are not "set it and forget it." They dry out relatively fast and require frequent watering. They also need to be put on a regular fertilizer schedule because they will deplete the nutrients in the basket's planting mix rather quickly. Deadheading is another task that you should also be doing routinely to keep the blooms going and healthy. A hanging basket will deteriorate fast and become an eyesore if these tasks are neglected. And, once a basket is in decline, we start feeling guilty, take it down and hide the shameful reminder. Well, that's what I do anyways! Vacation care. While a plant sitter is generally a good idea in an extended absence for indoor and outdoor garden plants, it is even more important with hanging baskets, given that they are higher maintenance. This higher level of maintenance does increase the likelihood that you may not return to happy plants in your hanging baskets because, let's face it, your plants will not receive the same level of attentiveness and care as you provided. So, if you travel a lot, you will want to take hanging basket drawbacks like this into consideration. Water damage. This is something I never thought about until browsing through some forums on container gardening. If you water hanging baskets on your porch, you may have observed water dripping through the drainage holes onto your porch. Many folks may not realize that wood rot can be caused by this dripping water. While there are solutions on the market for this sort of dilemma, or you could MacGyver something as well, the easiest thing might be to take down your plants and water them off the porch, but that is really not super convenient. Regardless of your approach, you're either spending additional money for a solution or being inconvenienced several times a week taking hanging baskets down and up again. Vulnerable to storms and strong winds. Damage to a plant's leaves, branches and stems can happen if they are whipped against the chains of your hanging basket during a period of storms or strong winds. Furthermore, if a wind is strong enough, it could actually swing your hanging basket hard enough to make it fall to the ground. The obvious solution is to take your hanging basket inside during storms, but storms oftentimes catch us unaware and we don't think of it until it is too late.
How the Pros vs. Cons of Hanging Baskets Compare
Hanging baskets add visual appeal to any space whether it be your porch, exterior walls, or fence posts. What may not be appealing, however, is the high level of maintenance they require to keep them in top form. If you are prepared for the possible drawbacks that come along with growing your plants in hanging containers though, then this is a great option for plant lovers, especially those with little to no space for a typical garden.
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Shelley Pierce was a writer for Gardening Know How, contributing to hundreds of articles for the site.
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