Rita Randolph is a published photographer, lecturer and garden writer in Jackson, Tennessee.
 

 
 

Some Strings Attached
by Rita Randolph - posted 07/27/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us remember macramé hangers or still use them! It’s easy to tie a few simple knots and make a hanger for any pot size. It all depends on how sturdy your hook or nail is!

 

String gardens differ from macramé in that the original growing container is removed and the root-ball is wrapped with another product like moss or coconut fiber.


I grew up in the nursery/greenhouse business. When I was in high school, the “houseplant boom” of the 1970s was in full swing. My mother ran the greenhouse part of the family nursery business and she allowed my sister Magda and me to go on a plant hunting expedition to Florida. Two teenagers quickly took off in a 1974 Pinto Station Wagon in search of “stock plants.” We came back a few weeks later with the car packed full, and immediately started propagating them.

We could easily sell small tropical plants for terrariums and macramé hangers. Everyone was hungry for the newest shade-loving vine or flower they could hang in a window, and I made macramé hangers for the local music store! These hangers were made from jute rope, everything from the simplest twine to bead-laden intricate knots. I even had a small teacup planted with a “piggy-back plant” hanging from the rearview mirror of my VW van.

 

Left: Wrap the root-ball loosely with plastic and poke holes in it. I want to reduce evaporation but also allow it to drain well. Middle: I chose cocoa fiber to wrap this evergreen. Holding it in place, I wrapped twine around the roots several times. When I ended back where I started I simply tied it off. Another string is attached for hanging. Right: One easy way to hang plants is by using ready-made chain for hanging baskets that are available at most garden centers. Simply hook the attaching parts together to make a sling.
 

After you’re finished, water your new piece by simply dunking it in a bucket of water, or water gently with a hose or watering can in good weather. Mix a little fertilizer in the water every month during the growing season to maintain nutrition.


In the last few years there has been a new method developed called “string gardens.” The nice thing about these hanging plants is that anything goes. They come in a multitude of sizes – tiny little things wrapped in colorful fabric and tied with embroidery thread or very large specimens in burlap, hung with a chain. They can be pottery, glass containers, or as natural as a moss-wrapped root ball. These are plants that have been wrapped in a variety of materials and hung from windows, beams, or ceilings.

String gardens are used to dress up a window, but during good weather they can be hung outside as patio arrangements. It’s up to your imagination of what kind of décor you wish to complement. From the funkiest work of creativity to the formal garden setting, these fun plantings work almost anywhere.

This is also a fun project for families to get children involved. They can pick out a plant, choose moss, coco fiber or some other fabric or wrapping material and construct their own little creation. They make great little inexpensive gifts!

 

A version of this article appeared in a July/August 2016 print edition of State-by-State Gardening.
Photography courtesy of Rita Randolph.

 

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