I contemplated the hanging hover dish planters that Loree of Danger Garden has posted about several times (one such post here) but couldn't justify the expense (the cheapest model starts at $95). Besides, my plant is too small for any of those. Maybe if they made one about 6" in diameter, that would be perfect for a small bromeliad like this to grow in indefinitely.
So, I started looking at materials I could turn into a hanging planter: pots (an obvious starting point), funnels, cans for recessed lighting, etc. I was about to pick something out from the latter option, but I wanted to see what I could find at second-hand stores first. While perusing the offerings at Goodwill today, I found something that just might work.
I know, beautiful, right? Why would anyone donate this? I'm sure it must have mistakenly fallen into the box marked "give away" when someone was doing their spring cleaning. Ok, so it's not my taste at all and I shouldn't make other people ashamed if they do like it, but the shape of that metal shade is what caught my eye. With a little fiddling at the store prior to purchase, I found I could do this:
It comes apart! And while it's hard to tell with the glare, that bottom piece is solid and fits perfectly into the narrow end of the shade. It even has a loop at the top (see previous photo) that can work to suspend the whole thing from. Now, pause for a moment to contemplate what on earth could be done with the little amber disco ball... I know at least one person who works with glass. Maybe he'll chime in... and move on.
First step, remove the structure inside the shade.
A combination of heavy-duty wire cutters and pliers accomplished that.
Next step: Forget to photograph the base before and after drilling drainage holes in it. Then, proceed to find some way to attach the base to the shade. It's a fairly close fit, but needs an adhesive to really secure it. Oh, look, silicone! It's waterproof and you can put down a big, gobby line of it to make sure things are really stuck together. The shade only actually touches the base on a razor edge, so that big, gobby line is important to fill in the gap for a better hold. And once the cryptanthus is planted, nobody will see how ugly the inside of the container is.
Continue to admire your ugly handiwork with the silicone while you think of how to suspend the planter, since the structure you were going to use to hang it from came off while you were drilling the drainage holes. Hey, look at that, a couple lengths of chain that have been sitting on the window sill for years are the perfect length to double up and use as a hanger.
You briefly toy with the lazy idea of using the silicone to attach the chains inside the dish, but then you spot the bonsai wire on the window sill and decide to go with a more attractive and secure method, instead. Measuring four spots roughly equidistant around the edge of the dish, you drill the holes. Using the pliers again, you curl four short lengths of wire and use those to attach the chains to the dish.
Another length of wire at the top holds the chains together and gives you a hook to hang the whole shebang. Tada! It even kind of matches the color of the plant.
I managed to wait until the next day to plant it, giving it time to dry. One issue I may correct later: the chains didn't leave much headroom once the plant was actually in, and I had to get the pliers back out to detach the chains to plant it and re-attach the chains once I was done. But look!
I think it looks pretty good! The cryptanthus appears to fill the container already, but they have small root systems that make planting in small pots like this possible and even preferable. The only plants I pair with pots so relatively small compared to the foliage are bromeliads, orchids, and succulents (and bonsai, back when I had a few).
The existing pup broke off during the repotting process, but luckily it was big enough to separate and was even producing a couple root nubs. The main plant has several more stolons forming, and may produce even more now that the first pup has been detached. This pup is destined for the local fall plant swap (along with the already-rooted Cryptanthus behind it).
And that was my quick afternoon project. Now I've got a taste, I want to make more containers like this, but I've got lots of other BIG projects that will probably keep me busy for the foreseeable future.