Ok, this might not be the moss hanging basket for your front porch…in fact, its proportions are massive, at least 30″ across and almost as deep. This basket belongs to a customer who hangs it in in a shady garden area.
This year, she wanted an all white and green foliage basket filled top to bottom with shade loving plants. What a fun project! The basket itself is a heavy duty plastic coated metal frame with openings that plants can be inserted into. Many folks use sphagnum moss or coco liner for these type of plantings, and it works well. However I prefer to use fresh green sheet moss and layer the plantings from the bottom up.
Of course deciding on the plant material came first. I chose plants for their form, leaf color and shape – and, of course, to grow in a very shady spot. I took a walk through the greenhouse and nursery looking for interesting shade plants that would also be small enough to insert into the framework of the basket.
I wanted trailing and mounding plants with the exception of the very top of the basket. I started with the variegated carex ‘Evergold’, one of my favorite shade plants. I added some small tassel ferns, Polystichum polyblepharum, for their beautiful deep green color – what a great contrast to the carex! I’m off to a great start…
Of course some ivy – a pretty variegated form worked well with my first two choices. I’d already decided on blue crisp ferns for the very top, and to compliment their blue color, I chose the blue/green pilea ‘Aquamarine’ – all the different foliage colors, textures and leaf forms were looking very pretty together – and not a flower in sight! Next, I added a variegated Swedish ivy – a great addition to shade plantings. It works really nicely as a counterpoint to the carex…and some tiny leaf creeping charlie rounded out my choices. It should meander through the entire planting, adding its dark green and very textured leaves to the composition.
Now it’s time to plant. This type of container takes time and patience – and a lot of sheet moss, fertilizer and potting soil!
I began by laying a thick layer of moss on the bottom of the basket and up the sides about 6″. Next I added a layer of potting soil, mixed in Osmocote, and started inserting the first layer of plants, alternating to highlight their differences in leaf shapes and color. The Ivy had long runners that I pinned into the moss with florist wire – it will root where pinned and then begin to trail.
After the first layer was inserted, I watered the plants in, pieced moss around the basket again about 6″ up, firmed the first layer of plants in place, and added more potting soil and fertilizer.
After 5 layers of plants, I was ready to plant the top! Blue crisp fern or bear’s paw fern, polypodium aureum ‘Mandianum’
is a beautiful fern whose fronds will easily reach 3′. This will definitely be a showstopper! I placed it in the center and added the remaining plants, firmed them in and watered everything one last time. Done!
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