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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Making My Coir-Lined Basket Hold Moisture So My Plants Don't Die Again This Year

You know this one -- the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Whelp, that's what I've been doing each summer with this one hanging basket. It's one of those coir lined baskets that I've been using for planting nasturtiums. The coir has a lovely natural look. However, it just doesn't hold water very well. 

For the last couple of years, I'd plant the basket with nasturtiums, herbs, and salad greens, as I also did in my other baskets which are made of plastic. The plants in the coir basket drain too quickly and the soil would dry out so fast. My plants would dry out by early summer. But I kept planting in this basket, thinking "this year my plants won't die." But they always did. I had told myself I'd remedy this soon. Yet, still this year I planted the nasturtiums in the soil without changing anything -- insanity.

Of course, the plants were drying out before June even arrived. Although, not the ideal time to fix this situation, as I'd already planted the basket for the season, this week I decided to bite the bullet and fix things while I could.

I carefully removed the plants, then dug the soil out of the coir liner.

I took a piece of heavy plastic (a mailing bag that I repurposed) and cut it to roughly the size of the interior of the basket, making a couple of small slashes in the bottom for drainage. I lined the coir with the plastic.

I then trimmed the top edge so the plastic wouldn't be visible. I mixed 1/2 teaspoon of water absorbing crystals into the dirt then scooped the dirt back into the basket inside the plastic lining. After replanting the basket, I topped off the soil so that any bit of the plastic liner wouldn't be seen once the basket is hanging.

Hopefully this will fix the situation. But even if it doesn't, I tried something instead of continuing to do the same thing while expecting different results.


  1. I hope your efforts pay off. I think they will. I generally don't do hanging baskets because they seem to need constant watering. In the heat of the summer, I've had to water some 2x/day to keep them alive. But I didn't do anything extra to remedy the situation as you did. So after the water absorbing crystals absorb the water, when or how do they release it?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I'm not sure how they release the water, exactly. The crystals are a little like gelatin particles. When you water the crystals, they expand 50 fold or so. They're slightly sticky/damp once full of water. I suspect that what they do is two-fold:1) they slow evaporation by holding water better than soil does and 2) prevent all of the watering water from flowing out drainage holes in pots. One article I read described the polymers as being like sponges. The instructions say to mix the crystals into the bottom layer of soil in a pot, presumably to release water to the root zone of plants.
      I don't know if my explanations help.
      My basket experience here -- we're cooler in summers than many other parts of the US. And we have a lot of trees surrounding our house. I have to water them daily when it's sunny. But I don't have to water them more than two or three times a week this time of year when it's damp, cloudy, and cool. I discovered last year that I can get salad greens from the baskets through most of July. By the end of July, the baskets are pretty much done and it's just too dry and sunny. I suppose I could put something in that's more sun/heat tolerant in late July. We'll have to see if I have time for that this summer.

  2. You'll have to keep us posted! I also have trouble with hanging baskets and have given up on them.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'll let you know if this helps this coir basket.


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