Gardening

ABCs of building a hanging garden

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Peter Munene’s plant nursery pictured on September 15, 2023, along Eastern Bypass in Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

A hanging garden is a common trick utilised by plant lovers living in an apartment or who have small spaces but still want to enjoy the serenity and therapy that comes courtesy of gardening.

Idah Ngina keeps a variety of hanging plants in plastic planters in her home.

“I am able to watch all my plants daily and I can tell the ones that are not happy. For the Staghorn ferns and pothos, I dip them in water for about an hour fortnightly. The others I water about twice a week,” she says.

Some of the plants she has hanged in her house include succulents, bromeliads, peace lilies, caladiums, spider plants, crown of thorns, cycads and philodendrons.

To hold the plastic planters in position Ms Ngina uses hooks or fabricated metal hangers.

How to protect hanging planters

Hanging planters are susceptible to destruction as they constantly have soil, water and compost.

“What we do is put polythene paper in the basket to make sure that when you water the plants it doesn't rot or get dirty. You make small holes on the bottom side of the basket and put in very little amount of water,” says Peter Munene the proprietor of Grand Gardens, a plant nursery in Ruiru.

The basket normally comes with a hook. According to Mr Munene, the hanging planters are of different types: the makuti lantern, the wooden types, some plastic hanging and some imported from China. Hard plastic planters are imported from China.

“The most affordable is the makuti lantern that is locally made at a cost of Sh1,500 and comes inclusive of the plants,” says Mr Munene who adds, “The best plants are the succulents, asparagus ferns, donkey tail, string of fruit, string of pearls. To care for them, water them regularly.”

Barbara Makanga, the owner of Urban Plants says that other popular hanging plants include the holly fern, lemon button fern, rabbit’s foot fern, Kimberly queen fern, and tiger fern.

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Peter Munene’s plant nursery pictured on September 15, 2023 along Eastern Bypass in Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

“These hanging plants are popular due to their ease of care and lush foliage. They make for very beautiful hanging plants,” says Ms Makanga, adding “You can also create your hanging herb garden.”

Some of the best herbs that you can grow in hanging pots are mint, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, lavender, basil, and rosemary.

Matt Musyoka a woodworker builds wooden planters. To protect the wooden planters from destruction by water, Mr Musyoka says all that is needed is “A good coat of protective finish. It can be paint or varnish. I think stain works too. But we don't do stains because fundis (carpenters)often use stains to cheat the customer. That is they use cheap wood, stain it and sell it at mahogany prices.”

Price

The cost of a wooden planter depends on customer preference and budget. The price also depends on the wood type, size and design. Most customers want something affordable, so softwoods are popular,” says Mr Musyola.

Most of his wooden planters are made of cypress wood and cost anything between Sh1,000 and Sh7,000.

Where to hang your plants

Hanging plants can be styled to fit in any space. The best hanging spot is on the balcony to utilise vertical space while also giving you some privacy.

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Peter Munene’s plant nursery pictured on September 15, 2023 along Eastern Bypass in Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

Other perfect spots are the front porch of your home’s entrance, the awkward spot in the corner of your house that you do not know how to design and on top of shelves and bookshelves.

Ms Makanga says it is best to let the hanging plants fall gracefully from the high points. You can also add hanging plants to your gallery wall with wall plant hangers. If you have an external chill area or a pergola adding hanging plants can break the monotony of potted plants and landscaping while creating a cosy space.”

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