Tips to create, nurture foliage hanging baskets

Published 6:21 pm Monday, June 19, 2023

By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service

I think no matter where you display them, foliage hanging baskets can bring a sense of serenity and beauty to your indoor and outdoor spaces.

To make your own foliage basket, select a single plant or a combination of plants with unique foliage. Consider the foliage color, texture and shape when making your choices.

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Foliage baskets perform well in shade, but they also grow well in dappled sun locations and areas with a few hours of morning sun. Color contrasts and vibrancy depend on the amount of sunlight the plants receive. Typically, the more sun they get, the more vibrant are the colors.

You get the greatest color intensity when you place your foliage baskets in full sunlight. In areas with low light, stems can lose their lower leaves, and the remaining leaves can lose some of their beautiful color.

If you place your foliage baskets in an area with lots of sunshine, beware: The sun can wash out the color. If this occurs, move them to shadier areas and the color should darken over time. Provide ample water when growing these plants in full sun, and move the baskets so they avoid full sun in the hottest parts of the summer.

The inch plant, scientifically known as Tradescantia zebrina and also called Wandering Jew, has striped purplish-green leaves with a silvery sheen and purple undersides. Not only does this plant have attractive leaves, but it is also fast-growing with trailing stems.

Leaf nodes on the stems of this plant are said to be 1 inch apart; hence, the common name inch plant. Each segment is capable of producing a new plant, so it is easily started from cuttings. Other varieties of inch plants have solid-green leaves or green variegated leaves. Their leaves compliment other plants with brightly colored leaves.

Inch plants do well if the soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. They tolerate heavy pruning, and pinching off the ends of the plants promotes denser foliage. You can prune off any leggy growth and use it as cuttings for propagation

One of my favorite foliage hanging basket plants is the airplane plant or spider plant, known scientifically as Chlorophytum comosum. It has linear leaves that are green or white striped, and its flowering stems have bare, loose panicles of small, white, starry flowers. It forms plantlets at the flowering nodes, making an interesting, graceful, cascading habit.

Allow the soil to dry slightly between thorough waterings. Airplane plants usually need water-soluble
fertilizer added just once a month. Be aware that heavily fertilized plants may not form as many plantlets, and excessive fertilizer may lead to tip browning.

Studies have shown that the airplane plant is quite effective in cleaning indoor air by absorbing chemicals including formaldehyde, xylene, benzene and carbon monoxide in homes or offices.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match these plants and others to create a foliage hanging basket combination
you can enjoy all year long.