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How to Grow a Successful Hanging Garden

hanging garden basket
The vertical garden is an efficient, beautiful way to give your green thumb a workout — no backyard required.

Who says you need a backyard for gardening? A vertical oasis can satisfy your green thumb with minimal need for space.

Few things are more satisfying than growing your own vegetables or plants. Yet people often think gardens require ground space, which can be hard to come by if you live in a concrete jungle or don’t have a big backyard to play around with. Enter the hanging garden, an efficient, beautiful way to give your green thumb a workout, no matter how much space you have.

“Hanging baskets allow you to grow plants in places with no soil, like decks and patios,” says Derek Fell, a garden designer and author of Vertical Gardening. “They can also create a column of color by using the steps of a ladder or attached to brackets on a wall at different heights.”

Here, a few things to keep in mind before you grow up.

Suss out the sunlight

Some plants (we’re looking at you, tomatoes) need a ton of sunlight. Others, like lettuce and cabbage, prefer some shade. Observe your space from sunrise to sunset to determine which hours of the day are sunniest. Take pictures and jot down notes as you go. Then decide which plants to include based on your findings.

Choose the right plants

Petunias, pansies, coleus, various kinds of Swedish ivy, and sweet potato vines are best for hanging baskets, says Fell. For edibles, stick with strawberries, “which have long runners that hang down the sides like a curtain,” lettuce, cucumbers, parsley, and vining tomatoes, such as Sun Gold.

Repurpose your pots

You don’t need to spend a ton of money on pots and containers for a vertical garden. Shipping pallets are an excellent choice for planting, and you may even be able to find them for free. Ditto an old dresser. Just fill the drawers with soil and add plants. That aforementioned ladder works well as a display too.

Another idea: hang shoe dividers to grow greens such as lettuce, kale, and herbs. Fill the pockets with a mix of equal parts potting soil and garden topsoil to give plants good anchorage. (Or if that’s too DIY for you, Woolly Pockets are recyclable plant pouches with metal grommets that easily attach to walls or fences.) Used water bottles are also ideal for growing herbs and can be easily hung from a balcony railing.

Have a water source in place

“The biggest problem with baskets is that the soil can dry out quickly,” says Fell. “Water daily or use a hydro-gel in the soil that helps retains moisture.”

In other words, be sure your agua is at the ready because you’ll need it frequently. And if you don’t already have one, invest in a watering wand that attaches to a garden hose. The nozzle is designed to reach the root zone of plants, allowing for thorough watering, says Fell.

Have you tried vertical gardening? Share your best tips in the comments below!