What is BASKET PLANTS?

The cultivation of various kinds of plants in hanging baskets is desirable from an aesthetic standpoint and also from the fact that certain species respond more kindly to that method of culture than to any other. In the first place basket plants add considerably to the appearance of greenhouse, conservatory, or corridor by breaking up the vacant headspace, whilst well-chosen subjects are seen to greater advantage than they would be were they grown in any other way. Secondly, the compost in which the plants are growing is always well aerated and there is less chance of its becoming sour or otherwise unsuitable for the maintenance of plant life than when it is enclosed in pots or forms borders. This alone is a great consideration in the care of certain species that are difficult to grow, and the large number of Orchids requiring basket treatment may be cited as belonging to this class. With Orchids, however, we have nothing to do in this article but rather to subjects that are available for more general use. Baskets made of galvanised wire or wood are most frequently used, the former being the more serviceable. In some instances wire baskets are manufactured for ornament rather than plant cultivation, and it is wiser that the grower should select those of simple make, the ordinary plain round one being most serviceable. Care must be taken to ascertain that they are strongly made, for faulty construction may lead afterwards to the destruction of a finely-grown plant. When wooden baskets are used they should be made of teak, for that wood stands the damp conditions better almost than any other. When preparing the baskets for the accommodation of plants they should be lined with moss, good fibrous loam or peat. Loam or peat, according to the plants to be grown, are preferable to moss. Good pieces, at least 3-4 ins. across, should be placed round the wires, then the remaining space filled in with a suitable compost. A tidy finish is ensured by rubbing the outside round with the hands and clipping off any long fibres. It is better to use young vigorous plants for baskets than to select well-grown subjects, for they are more easily manipulated and trained into the desired formation. Further, if basket plants are beginning to deteriorate, it is better to destroy them and commence again with young stock rather than to try to doctor them. It is rarely possible to remove plants from baskets and place them in larger ones, and if it is thought desirable to give more root room the best plan is to place the old basket inside the new one and fill in the vacant space with new soil. Vigorous plants can, however, be kept in excellent condition for a considerable period by weekly application of manure water or some chemical manure. When baskets are first filled with plants they should be kept in a warmer structure, until growth is active, than is required later on. The Best Basket Plants.In the following notes attention is directed to some of the most suitable plants for baskets : Fuchsias are charming basket plants, and they are available for everyone, in addition to being suitable for greenhouses, conservatories, and for porches, summerhouses, etc. Varieties of free, spreading habit should be chosen, and one to three plants 5-6 ins. high placed in a basket 15-18 ins. across. If the baskets are filled in March, excellent specimens can befproduced by the end of May which will blossom throughout the summer. A few good varieties for the purpose areAvalanche, Charming, Daniel Lambert, Elizabeth Marshall, Loveliness, Rose of Castile. Shrubby Begonias with trailing branches form good basket plants. These should be pegged round the sides of the basket as they elongate, and some shoots may be trained up the supporting wires. The best of all is B. glaucophylla, a handsome plant with reddish flowers. Others with erect branches such as B. gracilis, B. kewensis, and B. coccinea can also be used, whilst B.”Gloire de Lorraine”never looks better than when growing in a hanging basket. Asparagus Sprengeri forms a well-furnished basket of greenery, its long plumose shoots hanging from the basket to a depth of 2-3 ft. During the autumn and winter the green leaves are often relieved by red berries. Other notable and useful species are A. crispus, A. scandens, and A. verticillatus. Ferns are popular basket plants for moist greenhouses and stoves. Most of the Adiantums or Maidenhair ferns are available as also are the finer growing Hares-foot ferns (Davallias), such as D. canariensis, D. elegans, and D. repens. The following are also useful : Asplenium bulbiferum, Gymnogramme elegantissima, G. schizophylla and variety gloriosa, Hypolepis distans, Nephrolepis cordifolia, N. exaltata, the 92 various Stags-horn ferns, particularly Platycerium alcicorne and P. mthiopicum, etc. Although not usually grown in baskets, the various Achimenes give excellent results as basket plants. When filling the baskets the corms should be so placed that they will grow from the sides and bottom of the basket as well as from the top. A. coccinea, A. grandiflora, and A. Versckaffeltii are specially worthy of note. Lachenalias can also be successfully grown in baskets, the bulbs being placed in the same manner as described for Achimenes. The Rat-tail Cactus (Cereus flagelliformis) forms an excellent basket plant for a sunny greenhouse or window. It ought not, however, to be given a very large basket. Another member of the Cactus family suitable for baskets is Epiphyllum truncatum ; this thrives best in a rather moist and warm house. The various varieties of Phyllocactus can also be used. An out-of-the-way plant for a sunny greenhouse is Sturts Desert Pea (Clianthus Dampieri). Most people who have seen this gorgeous plant in flower try to grow it and usually fail. If, however, they sow seeds of Colutea arborescens singly in thumb pots a fortnight in advance of seeds of the Clianthus, then as soon as the Clianthus seedlings appear, and before they form their first true leaves, graft them upon the Colutea stocks, they will have every chance of success. It forms a very beautiful basket plant. Hardy plants such as Ivy, Lonicera japonica variegata, and Vinca minor can all be requisitioned for outdoor baskets if desired. Ivyleaved geraniums are excellent subjects for outdoor work in summer. Young plants placed in baskets in March or early April, and kept in doors until early June, produce well-furnished specimens which remain in bloom all summer. In some instances several species of plants are placed in the same basket, but as a rule single examples are the more effective. In addition to the plants mentioned many others will suggest themselves to those who are interested in the subject. W. D.

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Definition of  BASKET PLANTS