Standard plastic hanging baskets may be cheap and practical, but they lack style. Add life to every part of your hanging plant arrangements by lining wire baskets with Spanish moss. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a rootless bromeliad that extracts moisture from the air through its grey stems, which turn light green when wet. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, Spanish moss stems may reach up to 20 feet in length. When matted together, the plant's coarse texture and fibrous appearance create a suitable liner for wire hanging baskets that holds potting soil in, but is permeable enough to allow excess water out for healthy potted plant roots.
1 Fill a 5-gallon bucket one-half to two-thirds full of water. Place the Spanish moss in the bucket, pushing it down into the water to fully submerge it fully. Leave the moss to soak for one hour to allow its stems to soften.
2 Remove the chains or hangers from the wire basket if possible. Place three to four bricks or rocks in a circle on flat work surface. Set the basket in the center of the circle. Move the bricks or rocks inward until they touch the basket’s sides and hold it upright.
3 Pull the moss from the bucket, one handful at a time. Squeeze the moss while holding it over the bucket to release excess moisture.
4 Knead and stretch a handful of moss with your fingers to flatten it into a 1-inch-thick mass. Place the moss in the bottom of the basket. Repeat this process, overlapping the sections of moss in the basket’s bottom to create a 2-inch-thick lining. Push the moss gently against the wires to ensure good contact.
5 Repeat the lining process, working your way up the sides of the basket. Overlap the moss sections as before to avoid creating slits or openings in the basket from which potting soil may escape. Stop lining the basket once you reach the midway point.
6 Pour potting soil into the bottom of the basket, filling it one-third full. Tamp the soil down against the moss liner to remove excess air pockets and secure the moss against the basket’s sides.
7 Line the upper half of the basket’s sides with moss. Re-attach the chains or hangers to the basket. Overlap the topmost sections of moss over the basket’s edges by 1 to 2 inches.
8 Pour additional soil into the basket, filling it two-thirds full. Tamp the soil down as before. Leave enough open space in the baskets top to allow room for the plants' root balls.
9 Arrange the plants in the basket as desired, adding or removing soil to sit the tops of the root balls 1/2 to 1 inch below the basket’s top. Fill the space between the plant’s root balls with soil, tamping it down firmly. Fill the basket full with water from a watering can. Wait for the soil to absorb the water. Fill the basket one to two additional times with water to completely moisten the soil and settle the root balls.
Items you will need
- 5-gallon bucket
- Bricks or rocks
- Potting soil
- Spanish moss that you harvest yourself or purchase fresh may harbor biting insects, like chiggers. Microwaving the moss by the handful for a few minutes, or boiling it in water, can eliminate the bugs.
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