By: Elisabeth Ginsburg
Are you a house plant fanatic who wants new and different ways to show even more green specimens? Do you live in a small space with limited room for indoor greenery? Are you looking for new and different living accents to perk up your decorating scheme?
If the answer to any or all of the above is “yes”, lovely hanging house plants are the perfect solution. Cheerful and practical, pendulous plants are also the height of horticultural fashion. No matter what kind you prefer—flowering, foliage or ferns—you can find species and varieties that lend themselves to hanging display. All you have to do is choose the right plant and container for your indoor situation, install a hook or other mounting arrangement, and revel in your hang-ups.
When shopping for hanging house plants, look for species and varieties with naturally sprawling or vining habits. Take note of the plant’s mature dimensions so that you can plan for the right pot and appropriate amount of space. Matching your plant’s light and humidity requirements to available home conditions is critical. And finally, site plants in places where their foliage or flowers will shine but the planters will not be repeatedly jostled by passing family members. A hanging plant should not be a head banger.
The following are a few of the many hanging house plant options:
Flowers on High
The red, bottlebrush-flowered chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) goes by the tantalizing nickname, “red hot cat’s tail”. It combines dramatic good looks with a long flowering period and an affinity for indoor culture. The fuzzy, red “tails” can grow to 18-inches long, dangling dramatically from the plant. Medium-green, oval leaves finish the attractive picture. Bright indirect light, average water, and regular misting will make the red hot cat happy.
Pendulous Goldfish plants (Columnea hybrids) give you the bright color of the dazzling aquatic namesake aquatic but without the fishbowl. A member of the same plant family as African violets, goldfish plants sport a crown of pendulous stems ending in orange-yellow flowers that bear a striking resemblance to orange or red fish. Give your goldfish indirect light, regular misting and an absence of drafts. Cut back on watering during the winter months, when plant growth slows.
Tropical Pitcher Plant
For something completely different, try growing a tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes spp.), with long green leaves that end in colorful, dangling pitchers, which are not true flowers but attractive nonetheless. If grown in a hanging basket and watered regularly, pitchers will thrive if misted to increase ambient humidity. Make sure the individual “pitchers” also have water inside them. South-, east- or west-facing windows or exposures are best. Do not fertilize, as pitcher plants prefer low fertility situations.
Brightness conquers indoor space when you grow lipstick vine (Aeschynanthus radicans). Lipstick-red flower clusters dominate the ends of the arching stems, which are ornamented by fleshy green leaves. Hang your lipstick plant basket in the brightest indoor spot available and keep the soil consistently moist. Make sure the plants are away from drafts and prune the stems back to six inches after flowering to spark new growth. In the winter, growth slows and so should watering. This will stimulate the flower bud formation cycle.
The elegant satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’) is a vine that ornaments hanging baskets with cascades of marbled, heart-shaped leaves on trailing stems. Pothos, an easy-care plant that thrives in high-quality potting media, like Fafard® Natural & Organic Potting Soil, is in active growth during the spring and summer months, but the foliage is beautiful year-round. Position the basket in bright, indirect light and water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Fertilize during the active growth period with a balanced product, like a water-soluble 20-20-20 diluted according to manufacturer’s directions.
If you are passionate about purple foliage, try purple spiderwort (Tradescantia pallida). The ‘Purpurea’ variety is among the most common. Plants feature cascading segmented stems and long purple leaves. Plant them in a large hanging basket, because purple spiderworts are vigorous and reach out in all directions. Though most plant lovers grow this house plant for foliage, it also produces small, purplish pink flowers in the summer. The plants flourish best in bright indirect light and can be quite drought tolerant, though regular water is recommended.
For brightly lit, high-humidity situations, including bathrooms with sunny windows, nothing is more dramatic than a staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum), with green fronds that bear a striking resemblance to deer or elk horns. Often seen mounted on boards, staghorns are equally at home in hanging baskets. Because the plants are epiphytic and grow naturally on tree branches, they absorb moisture through both roots and fronds. Staghorns do best planted in a free-draining medium like orchid bark. Water sparingly—once a week or so during the growing season and less in the winter, when growth slows down. Orchid fertilizer, diluted to half strength and applied according to manufacturer’s directions, will keep your stag in the pink of health.
Whether grown indoors or out, Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) features large, lacy fronds that spring in lush profusion from the plant’s center. Like the staghorn fern, Boston fern also benefits from regular misting but prefers relatively cool household conditions. Like many other hanging specimens, Boston ferns thrive in bright indirect light and like a peat-enriched potting soil like Fafard® Professional Potting Mix. That soil should be kept consistently moist. To promote overly lush growth, hold back on fertilizing, restricting the application to two or three times per year.
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