Hanging Railing Planter

It’s garden time again! Due to the traveling we did this spring, I didn’t bother starting any seedlings because they never would have made it. Thankfully I have some over-zealous friends who planted a ton extra so I got some of their bounty! I’m learning from some of my mistakes this year and utilizing our new deck to create some shadier spaces to keep the plants cool. They say they are full-sun, but they haven’t met the match of Colorado draught sun on a roof!

One idea I’m trying out this year is to use a “planter” of sorts that doubles as some extra shade for the plants below.

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What you need:

  • A fabric shower curtain or window cover (try thrift stores or discount stores) or a couple of yards of fabric. – Be sure it’s some sort of polyester  you don’t want the planter disintegrating byt he end of the summer.
  • A sewing machine. – I have a pretty basic machine that only does straight lines and zigzags and it was sufficient.
  • Heavy Duty thread.
  • Cord or rope to attach the planter to your railing. – You could also create some straps from fabric if needed. Again, keep it synthetic, cotton and hemp aren’t going to last.
  • Dirt – plan on 1 cu ft  bare minimum. This also depends on the amount of fabric you have and the final size of the planter. Bags of dirt never go as far as you think they will, be safe and go with 2.
  • Plants. – I went with some heartier plants that do ok in sometimes dry soil. These hanging fabric planters lose water faster than pots. I also bought some basil which isn’t the heartiest, but I wanted to give it a shot and have some fresh stuff on hand.
  • Gardening tools and extras you want. – those other things that you want, gloves, fertilizers, labels, etc.

Start of by folding your curtain in half, bring the bottom up to the top. If there is an obvious “outside” (a pattern or nicer seems) be sure to start off by sewing “inside out” and have the pattern on the inside. If you don’t have a curtain that is already reinforced at the top, it would be a good idea to create a sort of thick hem on top that will be strong enough to support the planter. If you do already have a reinforced top, leave a little bit of that uncovered to use to hang from.

Then, simply sew the edges together. My machine has a harder time with thick spots, so I just kept it right on the outside edge of the seems.

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Be sure to keep the top open, that is one of the slots you will be putting dirt in.

Then, reinforce those seems with a zigzag. There will be a lot of reinforcing on this project, wet dirt gets heavy!

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Once you have the sides sewn at least twice, go ahead and flip it right side out. Now you will have the pattern (or nice side of the fabric) facing outward. We will be working with it this way the rest of the project.

Next, sew a couple more pockets. I decided to just do 4 total, but you can split it up as much as you want. I kept the pockets larger since my plants need a bit more space for roots. Be sure to double sew these lines as well.

*On this project I did not leave extra space in between top and bottom pockets. If you are doing larger pockets like this, I recommend you put at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the top pockets and bottom pockets so your plants have more room to grow up. You can see in my later pictures my mint and lavender are a little “cozy” on bottom.

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At this point you have sewn at least a couple of “pockets” shut. Cut a slit in the top layer. Don’t cut all the way through both layers!

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Sew around the raw edges of fabric, you don’t want them to fray away into nothing.

Also, on the outside corners of the pocket opening run that zig-zag a few extra times and make a nice thick edge. The corners will take a lot of weight and want to split.

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You can really see my perfectionist sewing coming out on this project… look at all those not-so-straight lines. That’s my life, friends, I hate straight lines. You know what? This thing doesn’t have to look perfect to function well!

Sew some super reinforced “buttonholes”. No need for a fancy machine to serge this, just zig zag over itself multiple times, leaving a space you will soon cut open to run your cord/rope through.

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I put 3 on top, and 2 on the sides to keep it from blowing in the wind.

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Again, 3 cheers for imperfection!

Cut some small slits in the button holes, and strap your planter to your railing. If you know some fancy knots, you can make it so you can move the planter if needed. Otherwise, just tie it tight.

Fill your pockets up with dirt leaving a inch or two to the brim. That way if you get a downpour you won’t loose too much dirt. And plant your plants! Look at my herbs, nice as cozy:

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As I mentioned before, you can see how the lower plants are a little tight. They have room, but they have to dodge the pocket above them. If your pockets are smaller, this likely won’t be an issue. If you are doing larger pockets, be sure to create more space than I did.

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Here is the rest of my garden as well. A large variety of squashes  I found this lattice for a few bucks at our local ReStore (a crafters dream). I love beans, so decided to plant them late anyway. I’m also going to see if I can train the watermelon to grow up instead of out.

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A smattering of peppers, some hot and some sweet. The fruit crate planters are holding up well enough from last year.

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Our lonely tomato plant. Our friend didn’t have many extras, and since they didn’t do so well last year we decided to wait and see this time around. I will be giving this guy a lot of TLC, because there is nothing like a fresh grown tomato.

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A variety of leafy greens. They are doing better than I expected, so I will likely have to find a few more pots to put them in. Or possibly test them out in the pallet again, trying to keep it a little shadier. Also saving some space in the pallet for some more herbs!

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And I couldn’t resist getting some flowers this year. Even if we have another rough summer of draught, I can keep a little bit of bright color and life around with the cosmos. And maybe even get another bloom out of the Amaryllis!

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Here we go again, another summer of experimentation on the patio. Let me know what you think!