They’re hard to miss: Huge balls of colorful flowers, two or three feet in diameter, suspended majestically from a city lamppost or the eves of your green-thumbed neighbor’s house. Impressive, indeed.
These “Great Balls of Flowers” are almost certainly wire basket planters, a planting container that is just that: A wire basket. While the results would bespeak a complicated – or even secret – planting and growing process, the wire basket planters are actually quite simple to assemble and nurture. Here’s how:
The Wire Baskets
The galvanized wire baskets themselves are available – in the garden department – in a range of sizes. They are bowl-shaped with a heavier gauge wire rim that can support the weight of the plants and planting medium and from which you can suspend the finished basket for display.
The baskets can be planted with either perennial or annual color, but – because of the limited amount of soil and the resultant lack of moisture storage and restricted root growth area – perennials do not generally do very well for more than a season or two. Annuals are your best bet for an impressive wire basket planter.
The secret – if there is one – is containing the planting medium in the open-sided basket. This is done with Peat Moss. The moss is packed into the wire basket, the plants interspersed – the roots inside the basket, the foliage out – and the soil is thereby contained, creating the awesome effect.
Start by soaking an appropriate amount of Peat Moss in a bucket of water to saturate it. Add a little vitamin B-1 (following manufacturer’s directions) to the water to help mitigate the transplant shock that may effect your plants as you assemble the wire basket planter.
Starting at the bottom of the basket, press in a moderately thick pad of the moss, beginning to run it up the sides. Using plants no larger than “six-pack” sized, slide your chosen plants – root ball first – through the spaces between the wires so that the foliage remains outside the basket. It will be necessary to disturb the root ball somewhat, but be as careful as you can to not tear the roots themselves.
Pack the moss around the plant stem keeping the roots exposed to the planting medium you will now introduce. Tamp the soil gently around the roots until they are covered. Continue the moss up the sides of the basket, planting and tamping in soil as you go, until you reach the top of the basket. Making sure you leave a slight depression in the soil to accept water, plant the open top of the wire basket planter as you would any container.
If you choose, you can introduce a little general purpose time-release fertilizer into the planting medium as you go. A twelve or fourteen inch diameter basket can accept as many as twelve to sixteen starts, depending on the density and spacing of the plants.
Suspend the completed wire basket planter in an area that meets the shade / sun requirements of your chosen plants – keeping the soil moist for a few day until the plants establish – then water and fertilize as you would normally. The wire basket planters will require more frequent watering due to the low soil to root ratio, so tend them diligently.
Some annuals that do wonderfully in the wire basket planters are: Impatiens, Lobelia and Pansy. Alyssum, although a perennial, is also a good choice, but the field is wide open for you to experiment with your own favorite annual color.
With care in the assembly and nurture of your wire basket planters, you too could be the proud owner of some “Great Balls of Flowers”. Happy Gardening!