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by Pernell Gerver

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"Grow Vertical! The Best Indoor Hanging Plants"

When you think of hanging plants, thoughts of overflowing pots of summertime petunias and other trailing annuals come to mind, but there are numerous house plants that grow well in hanging pots. What's more, they don't take up any room on the windowsill. Hanging house plants help decorate the home and are a great addition to any house plant collection. Some hanging house plants that are easy to grow include pothos, strawberry firetails, philodendron, Begonia fuchsiodes, and creeping fig. Click on a plant name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Pothos 'Marble Queen'Pothos has large, heart-shaped leaves on long, trailing stems. The stems can grow four to six feet long. The stems have aerial roots that cling so it can be grown either in a hanging pot or on a support like a climbing plant. There are both green-leaved types as well as variegated varieties. Variegated varieties have splashes of gold, yellow, or cream on their leaves. It does best in bright filtered light, but it can tolerate lower light. Pothos 'Marble Queen' has heart-shaped leaves that are irregularly splashed with creamy white, giving them a marbled appearance.

Strawberry firetails Strawberry firetails is a trailing house plant with small, deep-green leaves on semi-woody long stems. Its flowers are fuzzy, red "tails" that appear in the axils of its leaves near the ends of its stems. The flowers of strawberry firetails are long lasting. In addition to growing indoors, I also grow strawberry firetails in container gardens outdoors during summer, where its long, trailing stems hang over the edges of the container.

Heartleaf PhilodendronPhilodendron is a large genus of house plants. There are many different species of philodendron some with huge leaves over a foot long and others with small leaves. The smaller-leaved types are perfect for growing in a hanging basket. Heartleaf philodendron is one of the more popular small-leaved philodendrons. The heart-shaped leaves are four inches long or so and about three inches wide. New leaves are bronze-green. They mature to a deep, glossy green. Its long, trailing stems grow several feet long. Occasionally pinching off the growing tips helps keep it bushy. This philodendron is one of the easiest house plants to grow. Bright filtered light is recommended, but I have a hanging pot of one growing in a north window. It's been growing there for several years and it does very well in this relatively low-light condition. Heartleaf philodendron can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from normal room temperatures to as low as 55 degrees.

Begonia fuchsiodesBegonia fuchsiodes is a lesser-known begonia I discovered a few years ago. I've really come to like this plant and use it both in the garden during summer in containers and indoors as a hanging house plant during the winter months. It's not a true hanging plant like creeping fig, but its stems are long and have a graceful, arching habit. They reach well out over the edge of the pot. New stems grow upright in the center of the plant, then arch downward, especially when in bloom. This begonia has tiny, oval leaves less than an inch long. It bears small, fuchsia-like, coral-pink flowers that dangle down from its stems. It blooms nearly all year long. I dug up several I had growing in a railing box outdoors in the garden this summer and they're still blooming now. In addition to growing it in a hanging basket, it also looks nice placed on a table. Begonia fuchsiodes grows well in bright light. It prefers warm temperatures. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings and fertilize at half-strength while it's actively growing.

Creeping FigCreeping fig (Ficus pumila) has small, heart-shaped, paper-thin, green leaves on long, trailing stems. It is often grown on moss-lined topiary forms. The stems cling to their support with aerial roots. It can be grown in a hanging basket or as a groundcover in a large pot. It grows well in low-light conditions.

Swedish IvySwedish ivy is a bushy house plant with stems that can reach three feet long or more. It's a very fast-growing plant. It has small, oval leaves about an inch and a half long. The leaves have attractive, scalloped edges. Its stems are rosy-pink, making an attractive contrast to the glossy, green leaves. It bears short flower spikes that are held above the stems. The pale-blue flowers resemble coleus flowers. Swedish ivy grows well in bright light. I have a large hanging basket of Swedish ivy hanging in an east window and it has grown to over three feet long.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Blossom-End Rot on Squash Can Be Prevented"

Q. For the past three seasons I've had problems with my summer squash crop. I am hoping you can advise me. The squash plants grow big, green, and healthy and produce many beautiful large yellow blossoms. From the yellow blossom emerges a nice healthy-looking squash. However, when the squash gets to be the size of a small cucumber, the end of the squash withers, rots, and dies. My zucchini squash is affected the same way. Only about five to ten percent of them reach maturity and are harvestable. The soil is a friable, rich loam, enriched with compost. I apply a generous amount of cow manure and 10-10-10 fertilizer. Prior to planting I apply lime. My garden gets plenty of sun and when it gets dry I water it. What's the problem with the squash?

A. The problem you describe is most likely blossom-end rot. It's a fairly common problem on squash, as well as tomatoes, and it's called blossom-end rot because it occurs at the blossom end of the fruit. It is caused by a lack of calcium, irregular watering, early, rapid plant growth that is followed by dry conditions, and excess nitrogen.

To prevent blossom-end rot this season, there are a number of things to do. It's pretty easy to remedy once you know what is causing the problem.

First, add calcium to the soil. The best way to add calcium to the soil is by adding limestone. Crushed egg shells in the bottom of the planting hole are also an excellent source of slow-release calcium.

Avoid letting the plants dry out, especially as they are forming fruit. To retain consistent soil moisture, mulch the plants and water regularly. Plants should receive an inch of water a week, either through natural rainfall or watering.

Avoid using fresh cow manure. It is high in nitrogen and contributes to the problem. Compost fresh manure for a season and give it a chance to leach out before putting it on the garden. Also, avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, the first number on the label. A fertilizer with a high middle number (phosphorus) like Electra Plant Food and Electra Bloom Food will help promote flowering and fruiting.

Click here to read more about Electra fertilizers and order them from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

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