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Moss baskets make it next to impossible to over water plants, and that’s why they’re different from any other hanging pot. Each basket is composed of a suspended wire framework lined with fibrous material and filled with potting soil. The reason for fiber lining is to allow optimal drainage throughout the whole container, not just where there are drain holes. It also allows you to water daily without guilt, so the soil remains evenly moist without the risk of saturation.
Hanging baskets have changed in the last few years. Few are available with Sphagnum moss. Planting through the sides is now standard, making every basket a potential living ball of flowers. But in general, these baskets remain standard fare for specialty growers of fuchsias, ferns and begonias.
Now you can buy baskets pre-lined with coco fiber, which eliminates the time consuming process of lining one with dripping wet sphagnum moss. This coco fiber is more porous, and therefore even better drained, but there’s a down side. Potting soil inside will dry out more quickly. This dehydration rate increases exponentially in arid climates, particularly during windy or hot weather.
To create baskets that are more weather resilient, select containers at least 14 inches in diameter. This creates a soil mass that is large enough to support a more expansive root zone of long-lived plants, and it reduces moisture loss through the coco fiber. The next step is to select the right potting soil for your local climate.
Black Gold Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Soil is ideal for hanging baskets in dry climates. It is formulated for increased water holding ability without compromising drainage. To do so it contains coir, a byproduct of the coconut processing industry that is highly absorptive and able to retain moisture better than ordinary potting soils. It’s OMRI Listed too, so you can use it for organically grown edible flowers, vegetables and herbs.
What really makes coir desirable is the speed at which it absorbs water. While dry peat can be a little slow on the uptake, coir literally sucks up every drop you apply. In a hanging basket this means less immediate drainage and more water holding capacity over time. When the dry winds of summer kick in, baskets with this coir blend soil will fare far better.
For those who live in humid, rainy summer climates, over-saturation can be a problem after daily rain or heavy downpours. Potting soil can become super saturated, which limits oxygen availability to the roots until conditions dry out. Black Gold® Moisture Supreme Container Mix was designed for solving this very problem by maximizing oxygenation of the root zone. When you use this blend in your hanging baskets, you are less likely to see fungal diseases and rotting that can occur despite the porosity of the basket liner.
Make this year’s new baskets with Black Gold potting soils formulated for your climatic challenges. Then replace the potting soil in your older baskets to eliminate over-compaction. Once you discover how a climatically formulated potting soil improves your hanging baskets, you’ll never settle for anything else.
Maureen Gilmer has been a noted figure in horticultural journalism for over 30 years. She is author of 18 gardening books and writer of Yardsmart, a national column syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service. She is also garden columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in the international resort town of Palm Springs. Maureen is a public speaker and former host of Weekend Gardening on the DIY Channel. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.← previous post: May 12, 2012: Palo Cedro Garden Supply Customer Appreciation Day