Create your own hanging ball baskets. I am a traveller and have visited many cities throughout the world where floral baskets adorn the streets. I thought that I would try a new take and instead of using a half round basket I made a floral ball. Here is how to do it.
Step 1: What You Need
2 x Wire hanging baskets with coir or coconut fibre linings with chain hangers. I used 35cm width as when filled with soil and water they are heavy
Sharp point scissors
Good quality potting mix with water holding granules and slow release fertiliser
Seedlings of your choice. I used Lobelia, Petunias, trailing Pansies and Viola. I used 24 for each basket. That is 48 in total.
1 x Plastic bottle. I used a square shape as it it easier to drill into the corners
Cordless Drill and 6mm drill bit
Step 2: Prepare the Baskets and Water/fertiliser Reservoir
Remove the chain hangers from both baskets and put aside. You will need both later to connect the two baskets together. The two chains add additional strength to hang them when finished.
Using the point of the scissors stab through the coconut liner in between the wires and then cut a cross big enough to shove your finder in and gently expand the cut so that you have a small hole
Repeat in all the spaces between the wires
Drill holes into the sides of the plastic bottle. I went down the corners making about two holes in the side and one in the neck of the bottle. Do this on all four corners. You will have 12 holes in all.
Cut the bottom out of the bottle so that it is the same height as the basket and screw the cap in place.
Step 3: Start Planting
Turn out the seedlings and separate into individual plants. Reserve 4 seedlings for the end.
Push 4 seedlings into the four holes in the bottom of the basket from the outside
Place the basket with the four seedlings hanging out of the bottom in a container so the plants don't get crushed and then add some potting mix to just cover the roots. Only add enough to cover the roots
Work around the basket inserting seedlings into each hole in the coconut lining from the outside. Work from the bottom up and add more potting mix to the basket covering the roots of the seedlings with each layer until you reach the top
Fill the plastic bottle with manure and place it in the basket.
Repeat the procedure as above but don't plant into the bottom four holes. The plastic bottle for the water reservoir and feeder sit over them and you will need this space later to cut out the watering hole. Just work around the sides until you have reached the top and the basket is full of soil and seedlings.
Step 4: Put It All Together
This is where it can get a bit tricky. You might need a second pair of hands because you need to invert the top basket and place it on the bottom one.
Water both baskets well and let the water drain away. Watering the potting mix helps it stick together so that it doesn't fall out when you tip the basket over. I placed a piece of news paper over the soil in the top basket and wet it down as well. This way you have something to help keep the soil in.
Place one hand on the newspaper over the top basket and with the other, and working very quickly to avoid catastrophe, turn the top basket over and place it on the bottom one. If you do have a second pair of hands get your helper to do this. It doesn't matter if it is not completely lined up as you can make minor adjustments later. The important part is to keep the soil and plants in the top basket falling out.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Using the pointed scissors cut out a square opening to expose the manure filled water reservoir
Take the last four seedlings and plant them into the potting mix between the plastic bottle and the coconut lining
Attach the 2 hanging chains to the rims of both baskets to hold them together. You will have six anchor points in all. Make sure that you space them evenly around the ball.
Step 6: Hanging Them Up
Now all you need to do is find a space to hang them.
I attached brackets to the wall. They need to be sturdy and make sure that you use good fastenings to hold them on to the wall.
I also used some swivelly thingys (a very technical terms I know) to attach the baskets to the hangers. This allows you to turn the baskets every couple of days so that the ball gets even sunshine and promotes consistent and even growth all the way around.
Step 7: Enjoy
These hanging floral balls make a great display and are easy to maintain.
Keep them watered well, any excess will drain away, but do it at least once daily. In summer or hot weather they might need watering twice a day. The old finger in the potting mix will tell you if they need watering.
A note on replanting
When the plants have finished flowering it is easy to replace them. You don't have to dismantle the whole shebang. Just pull out the dead or finished plants, stick your finger in the hole to make a space the shove a new seedling in. Dead easy. The soil is just there to hold the plants in place and give the roots something to grow into. Your reservoir can be filled again and again through the hole in the top and you can add manure or a mix of it and slow release fertiliser.
I have found that Lobelia and some varieties of Petunia are perennial and I still have some growing and flowering from last season. The Lobelia does particularly well and gets bushier with time.