What plant(s) do I want?
July 22, 2020 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Our three-season porch gets a lot of sun and has two hooks for hanging plants. They need to be non-toxic to cats (cats have taken bites of all of our previous plants, including cacti) and I would like them to dangle somewhat. We are in Zone 6b so this porch does get cold in winter, but we could move them to another room at that point. What are my options?
posted by chaiminda to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Spider plants are animal safe, and do the dangle impressively once they reach size. Certain ferns might work well, (Asparagus and Boston ferns are both animal safe). Baby's Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) might do well there too? They prefer more dappled shade....I can't keep them alive to save my own, but YMMV.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

You could grow nasturtiums, which are safe and tasty for humans and cats to eat. They come in both mounding and trailing varieties (like, I pulled up 8+ feet runners when I finally whacked mine back early this summer). I'm not sure in zone 6 how much of the year they would bloom, but I'd think you'd get a couple months at least.

Cutting them back before they trail too low will encourage new growth, and when the flowers die they drop seeds (size of a dried chickpea, easy to find and pick up) and you can drop some back into the pot and top up with a bit of soil; they'll likely sprout the following spring. The whole plant will die back when it gets cold, that's normal for them even in my mild climate, but it sounds like you might not be using that space during their dormant time anyway. When it warms up the roots will send new shoots out.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:45 PM on July 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Donkey tail sedum are unique and interesting, and they trail beautifully. Also non-toxic to cats/dogs/kids.
posted by SamanthaK at 5:00 PM on July 22, 2020

Geraniums can be cut back for winter and will come back in spring. Reds/ pinks/ white Some geraniums will trail. Buy plants.
Nasturtiums are pretty, the generic varieties are orange-y, but you can get seeds for all reds or yellow. In Maine, they don't re-grow, but may self-seed. Pretty easy to grow from seed. They have pretty leaves, too.
Petunias don't get a lot of love, but they are pretty hardy and bloom profusely. So many colors.

You can grow tomatoes upside down or hanging, esp., cherry tomatoes.
posted by theora55 at 5:21 PM on July 22, 2020

Petunias are gorgeous and non-toxic to pets, but I never had a lot of luck with longevity until I watched this video (brief summary in case it ever becomes unavailable: deadhead often, and be sure to pinch or cut off the little "holders" of the dead blossoms, because this is where the seed is, and leaving those means the plant goes to seed and stops blooming; also, cut back petunias a lot, like a third of the plant every week or two). For me, petunia care takes hands-on time every day or two, though it's only a couple of minutes, but if your plant is hanging high enough that it's a bit of a pain to manipulate (if you have to fetch a footstool or whatever), they may not be the best choice for a hanging basket.

On the positive side of cutting them back, btw, even though it hurts to cut off full, beautiful blooms, you can put these in water and they will last several days — so, some cut flowers for the house!

Also, re watering: I've read completely contradictory advice, from very stern warnings to water very little, to the guy in the above video who waters a lot. You just need to see what it takes for your location. I make sure mine always feel at least just slightly moist. My petunias shouldn't even be surviving, much less thriving, because it's so hot now and the sun here in Greece is so intense and I have them in mostly full-sun locations (on purpose because I needed something colorful that could handle that much sun), but they are still doing great, though I do move one of them out of the very worst of the scorching afternoon sun for a couple of hours every day.
posted by taz at 4:14 AM on July 23, 2020

Spider plants are damn near impossible to kill and they work well in hanging baskets. If they're allowed to get too dry they just go dormant; start watering them again and they come good completely in about two weeks. Plus, the little daughter plants are the easiest thing in the world to propagate by air layering, because that's pretty much what they do by themselves in the wild.
posted by flabdablet at 5:16 AM on July 23, 2020

Oh, one "PS:" to my petunia comment above is that if you worry that trimming back so much means you have only a smattering of blooms left, it doesn't! You can start with less, say a quarter of the mass if you feel worried and see how it goes, but if you cut back a third on a full blooming plant with an eye to proportion (don't cut all in one place), it's not even visible that they've been thinned, except maaaybe to you. Also, with one of mine, I started this technique (proper deadheading, beginning by getting all of the remaining bloom "cups" out, and aggressive trimming back) on one of mine when it only had 2 blooms (but healthy leaves) and within days it was shooting out blooms like mad. It was a pretty amazing transformation.
posted by taz at 5:38 AM on July 23, 2020

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