|The bromeliads in the foreground are mounted directly on a tree stump.|
These are just some of the ways you could put these suet basket planters to use:
- Hang them on a chain
- Mount them on wood
- Hang them from a tree
- Surround them with old picture frames
- Make a living roof for your birdhouse
- Arrange them in a grid to cover a fence
- Hang one in a brightly-lit shower (like this)
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- A suet feeder basket – Find them at the dollar store or anywhere else bird feeders can be found.
- Sphagnum moss – Long grain sphagnum moss works best.
- Florist’s wire – It’s affordable, easy to use and keeps your bromeliad in place.
- A bromeliad - Any bromeliad will do. Since I live in zone 9a, I chose cold hardy types that I can leave outside.
- (Optional) Cuttings - I like to use Rhipsalis, (an epiphytic cactus) Hatiora, (another epiphytic cactus) Peperomia (another epiphyte) and Tahitian Bridal veil, but sedums and any other easily-rooted succulents will also work.
How to Make Your Own Suet Basket Garden
Step One: Stuff the Basket
Stuff the suet basket with moistened long grain sphagnum moss. Insert small cuttings (Such as Tradescantia, Sedum or Rhipsalis species) and close the basket. If you’re using a top-loading suet basket, you can tuck the cuttings in afterwards instead. I even went back and tucked Tahitian bridal veil (Gibasis geniculata) stems into each of the baskets when I was done so that they’ll form a lacy screen over the metal frame.
Step Two: Attach Bromeliad
Place a bromeliad, orchid or succulent against the basket. Fold a long florist’s wire (or any flexible wire not containing copper), in half and wrap it once around the woody looking stem. Pull the wire through the basket tightly and twist the two ends together on the other side to attach the bromeliad. The bromeliad will need to stay upright to collect water in its vase, so lightly wrap twine around the upper portion and the basket to gently hold it in place.
|To the left of the finished birdseed basket planter is an established Rainforest Drop.|
Hang the planted basket on a fence, tree or anywhere that receives the appropriate sunlight for the chosen plants. Most succulents prefer full sun, while epiphytes such as orchids, bromeliads and Rhipsalis do best with shade in the afternoon. As you can see in the photo above, I've used a metal rack. Read on to find out why I did it and how to make your own.
Epiphytic plants will be able to withstand some serious dry spells once they've become established, but first they have to form a good root system.Care for your new birdfeeder basket garden by keeping the sphagnum moss moist until roots begin to form. I rarely fertilize my rainforest drops or birdfeeder basket gardens nowadays and they still seem to do fine, but the plants will definitely take on a lusher look if you fertilize with compost tea or orchid food.
My Epiphyte Wall
You can use these planters in a multitude of creative ways, but I chose to turn them into a living wall because the fence was ugly and I wanted to create the illusion of more space. The metal supports make it easy to hang planters and move them around as needed; whether it's to make a new arrangement or to bring the orchids inside on cold nights. They also support the garden's weight, so I don't have to worry about a fallen fence. Here's what it looked like before...
|Before: This ugly fence needed a makeover.|
|I added mulch and played around with different ideas before finally attaching the metal racks.|
How did I find the metal racks, you ask? I was lucky enough to reclaim some retail fixture pieces that were headed to the landfill, but you can find something similar by looking around the dumpsters behind retail stores or by purchasing something similar online.
Another benefit of finding a sturdy support like this is that you can hang up pots to create a living wall of flowers, vegetables or ferns. I chose epiphytes and succulents because their lack of soil makes them lightweight and because they rarely need watering, especially during the summer rainy season.
|The mounting bracket (found at a hardware store) is hidden by the plants.|
Stay tuned to see how this vertical garden develops over time! I'm really excited about how it turned out and can't wait until it fills in to cover the metal frame. Since I've surely left out some important detail or instruction in this post, please leave a comment or send me an email (link in the sidebar) if you have any questions.