Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Making a Moss-Lined Basket
Hanging plants survive in plastic baskets, but they flourish in old-fashioned wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss. This technique was popular among Victorian gardeners, who knew that a moss basket’s permeable skin guarantees perfect drainage while allowing air to reach the plant’s roots. The moss also acts as a reservoir, absorbing excess water and releasing it back into the soil as needed. Even the water that evaporates from the moss’s outer surface is not wasted. By boosting the humidity around the plants’ foliage, the evaporation protects the greenery against the desertlike aridity of winter’s hot, stuffy, indoor atmosphere. Another great way to preserve moisture, is Soil Moist. It stores over 200 times its weight in tap water, and then releases a steady supply of water as your plants need it. Soil Moist acts as a reservoir, even during periods of drought, the stored water is released to the plant. Soil Moist polymer is non-toxic, safe and economical to use. In addition, it will last for several seasons. Such a homemade container does require a bit more work. The most persuasive argument in favor of an old-fashioned basket is aesthetic beauty. When I potted up a basket of spearmint for the kitchen recently, I planted not only in the top but also through the side walls. A couple of weeks’ growth was all that was needed to turn that basket into an unbroken sphere of sweetly aromatic foliage. SELECT AND PREPARE THE PLANTS Though I chose spearmint for my most recent basket, there are any number of foliage and flowering plants that adapt well to the treatment. Use rooted cuttings, since these smaller specimens are easier to insinuate through the basket’s walls. Commonly, cuttings are grown three or four together in a two-and-a-half- inch pot. Water well, and allow the cuttings an hour or two to fill with moisture. Then slip each root ball from its container, and separate the plants by cutting their roots apart with a knife.