Gardeners who are limited when it comes to space are always experimenting with ways to grow food vertically, and using hanging pots is often one of the very best options. Even if you aren’t worried about space, growing food crops in a hanging container can be a fun way to add more visual interest to your garden – after all, some fruits and vegetables are just as pretty as flowers.

Choosing a location for the hanging pots:

You’ll first need to decide on a location to hang your containers. Most fruits and vegetables grow well in areas that get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, but you can also locate them in spots that receive less sunshine and use more appropriate plants like herbs to grow in those. Another consideration for your hanging pots is the height. Be aware of how much sunlight your particular plant needs, and remember that full sun reflected by a bright stucco wall or radiated by asphalt is hotter than full sun in a green garden plot. Planters shaded by a building or wall to the south generally won’t get enough sun to foster normal, healthy plant growth, and west-facing windows may toast your plants to death.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if your pots are hung up too high, you won’t be able to water them easily, and as they require frequent watering, at least once each day, be sure that you can easily reach them, but that they’re not in the way of a path or another place that might hinder someone walking by.

Loose, dangling plants are susceptible to battering, bruising and breakage in high wind, so be sure to place them in sheltered spots.

Preparing your pots:

Preparing your pots to grow vegetables and/or fruit, isn’t all that different from preparing them for flowers. You’ll need a container that has good drainage, and adding a quality planter liner will help to protect the soil and the roots of the plant. In order to minimize the weight, it’s best to use lightweight potting mix rather than garden soil.

You’ll also need to make sure you should use the right size pot or basket. For heavier, full-size plants that have a deep root system, choose a five-gallon bucket to use as your hanging container. Simply fill it with your potting mix and then drill holes in the sides and the bottom of the bucket for drainage. You can plant several different plants in one, but you’ll need to be careful not to overcrowd them. For heavy feeders, such as peppers and tomatoes, stick to just one plant per container.

Feeding & Watering:

Feeding your plants regularly becomes even more important when growing them in hanging pots as they’ll deplete the nutrients in the soil quicker than they would if they were planted in the ground. As with any plant that is productive, more flowering and fruiting will occur with regular feeding. If you’re growing tomatoes and other plants that like calcium, you may want to add egg shells. There are a number of homemade fertilizersyou can use to help keep any vegetable plant healthy and strong, depending on the particular plant. An Epsom salt fertilizer is great for magnesium-loving plants, including tomatoes and peppers. To make it, simply combine a tablespoon of Epsom salt and a gallon of water in a watering can and use the solution to water your plants, repeating once each month. Do a little research on Google on your specific plant’s needs and you’re sure to have multiple homemade fertilizer recipes.

Keep in mind that your potted plants will dry out faster than plants in the ground – in fact, they may need watering several times a day. If that sounds like a challenge, you could set up a miniature self-watering irrigation system that will water all of your hanging pots for you – it will also make it easy to keep them watered when you have to go out of town. Hanging basket irrigation systems can be purchased online, including sites like Amazon.

Adding a layer of mulch helps to retain moisture between waterings too.

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