For a long time, apartment balconies have been used as storage places for water tanks or a spot for hanging clothes.
However, this trend is coming to an end as plants take the stage. Plant lovers, who nowadays call themselves young plant parents are not shying away from exploring all the benefits that indoor gardening provides.
One such plant parent is 30-year-old Thomas Gao who has a variety of hanging plants on his balcony. When you get to his balcony at his house in Kahawa Wendani, Nairobi you are welcomed by the sight of beautiful hanging potted plants held by Macrame plant hangers.
The avid chess player says, “I have the spider plant, the Boston fern, the arrowhead and the money plant (pothos),” the military officer tells the BDLife, adding that it was easy for him to adopt the plants since they are easy to maintain.
“My desire to keep the hanging plants arose from my need to add some green beauty to my house. I also find the plants to be very therapeutic and good air purifiers,” he says.
Being a new plant parent, Mr Gao sought guidance from Urban Plants, a plant nursery and gardening store.
“Different plants come with different water needs. I also have succulents like aloe vera, cactus, and snake plants that I place on the table to give my balcony some colour. The succulents do not need much water so I can water them every two weeks."
He adds “The Boston Fern is a very sensitive plant and requires daily watering. Every morning before leaving for work I make sure to spray them. However, this depends on the humidity. In the more humid days, I only spray them once. The money plant and the arrowhead need watering twice every week.”
To add nutrients to the soil, Mr Gao uses fertilisers. He advises that the best soil to use is black cotton soil as it retains moisture without hardening, unlike red soil.
Barbara Makanga, the owner of Urban Plants says besides spider plants, pothos (money plant) and Boston fern, other popular hanging plants include the holly fern, lemon button fern, rabbit’s foot fern, Kimberly queen fern, and tiger fern.
Danson Seet, the proprietor of the Ythera online plants shop also recommends the philodendron.
“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.”
The best herb for your hanging baskets is mint, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, lavender, basil, and rosemary.
In 2018, Ms Makanga founded Urban Plants to fulfil her passion for interior design space.
“I engage in the strategic selection and placement of plants in an indoor space, to bring visual appeal to a house and to add health and wellness benefits of plants to your space.”
Where can you place your hanging 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.
You can also use hanging plants to create some visual interest while filling up empty corners in your living room, bedroom or hallway.
“We all have that awkward empty corner that we never know how to style,” points out Ms Makanga.
Another ideal spot for your hanging plants would be the front porch entrance to your home.
Ms Makanga adds that one can place hanging plants on top of shelves and bookshelves.
“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.”
How to hang your hanging plants
To hang your hanging plants, you can use a metal hook with an anchor. Drill a hole either on the ceiling or the wall, insert the anchor then insert the metal hook.
If you do not wish to drill into the ceiling or wall or your tenancy agreement does not allow you to, you can use an S-hook and hang the hanging plant from curtain rods, clothes racks or anywhere that you can hook the S-hook.
You will then get yourself a hanging planter. Using a variety of plant hanger materials can give you your desired look and feel.
“The different plant hangers include; sisal basket hangers, metal plant hangers, fibreglass plant hangers and macrame plant hangers with terracotta pots. Metal plant hangers give a rustic vibe, fibreglass plant hangers give a modern, sleek vibe while macrame plant hangers give a boho chic vibe,” says Ms Makanga.
Ms Makanga says that the cost of hanging plants is dependent on the type of hanging planter.
“The fibreglass plant hanger would cost between Sh1,500 for the small size and Sh4,500 for the large size. The sisal basket plant hanger would go for between Sh2,500 and Sh3,500 together with the plant. The macrame plant hanger with a terracotta pot and plant included goes for between Sh2,500 and Sh3,500.”