As the start of the growing season fast approaches, it is time to start thinking about the best plants for hanging baskets. Hanging baskets add to every landscape design there is, as they not only add beauty but color and texture as the plants come cascading down. If the thought of hanging basket plants intimidates you, you are not alone.
Many new gardeners shy away from it for fear they will do something wrong. The good news is there are so many flowers for hanging baskets to choose from; you really can’t go wrong with your design or your choices.
Planting hanging baskets is not nearly as hard as you might think, especially with all of the information you have available to you on the internet. Selecting the best plants for hanging baskets is hard, but only because there are so many different choices available. When it comes down to creating a hanging basket, it boils down to your personal preference.
- Choosing the Best Plants to Hang in Baskets
- How to Plant Hanging Basket Plants
- Caring for Flowers for Hanging Baskets
- Must-Have Hanging Basket Plants
- Tuberous Begonias (Begonia tuberhybrida) – Flowers for Hanging Baskets
- Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
- Best Plants for Hanging Baskets – Fuchsias (Fuchsia magellanica)
- Petunias (Petunia)
- Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) – Hanging Basket Plant
- Geranium (Pelargonium)
- Best Hanging Basket Plant – Lotus Vine (lotus berthelotti)
- Ivy (Hedera)
- Vervain or Tears of Isis (Verbena) – Best Plant for Hanging Basket
- New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)
- Flowering Hanging Basket Plant – Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
- Black Eye Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)
- Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas) – Hanging Basket Plant
- Lantana (Lantana camara)
- Flowering Hanging Basket Plant – Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime)
- Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
- Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) – Best Plants for Hanging Baskets
Choosing the Best Plants to Hang in Baskets
Before you begin selecting the plants for the hanging baskets, you need to figure out where you plan to hang the basket. Location plays a vital role in choosing plants as different plants have different light requirements. Keep in mind that sun position changes with the seasons, so something shaded and cool during the winter will be sunny and hot during the summer.
When selecting plants for a hanging basket, consider your growing zone. You can find lists of the best plants for hanging baskets all over the internet, but just because it isn’t listed doesn’t mean it won’t grow in your zone. Find your growing region on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Along with the growing area, think about each plant’s care requirements. Group plants with similar care requirements as it makes it easier to tend to the plants. Something else to think about when selecting plants for hanging baskets is the plant variety.
Just because one type of plant won’t work well in a hanging basket doesn’t mean you have to skip the plant altogether. Look to see what other variety of plant that species offers. The perfect example is plants that typically grow in mounds; many of them provide a trailing variety that is ideal for hanging baskets.
How to Plant Hanging Basket Plants
Before you can begin planting the hanging baskets, you need to find a hanging basket. The best hanging baskets are between 14 to 16 inches wide, as this gives you ample room for a variety of plants. If you go into the garden center of local home improvement stores or some big-box retailers, you will find a large selection of hanging baskets to choose from.
Some are just plain plastic hanging baskets, while others offer intricate designs. Choose any hanging basket style you like, but if it doesn’t come with a liner, purchase one separately or create your lining with a bag of coco coir. Coco coir liners, which come with some hanging baskets, are the best choice for lining the inside of your baskets.
When buying soil for your hanging baskets, don’t grab the cheapest dirt you find. Choose a good quality planting soil. The best planting soil to use for hanging baskets is a soil that contains a mixture of perlite and peat moss.
Caring for Flowers for Hanging Baskets
Caring for your hanging baskets involves fertilizing, watering, and deadheading your flowers inside the hanging baskets. How often you feed your plants depends on the plant, as each one has its unique fertilizing requirements. In general, add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before you begin planting and then fertilize according to the plants’ needs.
Hanging baskets require more water than regular container plants. Remember not to let the soil dry out, so check the dirt daily and water as needed. A good rule for hanging baskets is to water every day in the sun or every other day if in the shade.
Outside temperatures will also play a part in how often you water. During extreme heat, hanging baskets require more water even when situated in the shade.
Must-Have Hanging Basket Plants
Don’t forget to consider aroma when choosing your hanging basket plants. If you are sensitive to smells, you probably do not want one of the fragrant houseplants. Select a plant without a distinctive smell but that is lovely to look at and all your senses will be happy.
Tuberous Begonias (Begonia tuberhybrida) – Flowers for Hanging Baskets
Tuberous begonias offer colorful flowers and are the perfect choice if you are looking for something showy in your hanging baskets. With tuberous begonias, you have the choice between upright or trailing plants with ruffled, double, or single flowers in a variety of colors with either green or burgundy leaves. In container gardens, tuberous begonias can reach up to three feet tall.
Plant tuberous begonias when temperatures are steadily above 50°F, as anything below can damage the plant. These flowers require partial shade or filtered sunlight, and they thrive when they receive afternoon shade and morning sun.
They die back each year, so decrease water late in the summer until early fall. As the foliage begins to yellow, trim it back and dig up the tubers before the first frost comes. Clean and dry tubers for about a week and store tubers wrapped in newspaper or paper bags for the next year.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
One of the best fly repellent plants for hanging baskets are Nasturtiums. Aside from keeping flies away, these plants thrive in poor soil with plenty of sunlight and very little care. These are annual plants, so you will need to replant them each year. During their blooming season (six to eight weeks after planting) they provide plenty of colors and require minimal watering.
The semi-trailing nasturtiums are ideal for hanging baskets, but other varieties like dwarf nasturtiums and climbing ones are excellent choices for window boxes. When adding potting soil to a hanging basket for nasturtiums, avoid using any rich mixtures or soil with fertilizer added as that will limit the blooms.
When watering, only water when the top three inches of soil are dry and only water enough until water drains from the drainage hole. Allow soil to dry again before watering.
Best Plants for Hanging Baskets – Fuchsias (Fuchsia magellanica)
Fuchsias are shade-loving plants that add a splash of color in your hanging baskets. Fuchsias are often grown as annuals in hanging baskets, so they require fertile potting soil that offers excellent moisture retention. Never place fuchsias in full sun and make sure you water them consistently. If not watered regularly, they will start wilting. Hot spells may require more frequent watering.
For the best planting results, use either nursery starts or cuttings, or you can also create your cuttings with a two to three-inch piece from the end of a branch. As for hanging plants, fuchsias can be placed four inches apart in baskets or containers. Bring these cold-sensitive plants inside for winter, but only after you have clipped all leaves back, so they are no longer than six inches.
Store the basket in a dark location and water up to three times and bring back outside four weeks before the last frost. Use a homemade spider mite killer to control any infestations.
For a hanging flower, your best choice is a Grandiflora petunia as it offers more abundant flowers than the other group of petunias. This group is better suited for containers and baskets because the flowers are more likely to become damaged from rain. When planting petunias, it is best to do as a transplant.
These flowers require full sun and well-draining soil. If planted in areas that receive even partial shade, you will notice fewer flowers blooming. In baskets and containers, use a potting mix that doesn’t contain soil.
Although petunias are heat-tolerant if planting in baskets or containers, they do require frequent watering. To ensure optimal growth, fertilize your flowers once a month. To encourage longer blooming periods, remove any faded or dead flowers as they appear. With their numerous color choices, petunias are a great choice to opt for when it comes to plants that filter air.
Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) – Hanging Basket Plant
Many people use Bacopa as a filler plant for hanging baskets, as it trails down beautifully, and it is easy to grow. Bacopa offers dainty looking blue hanging flowers or white flowers against pretty green foliage.
Don’t let its delicate looks fool you, though; it is one of the most robust plants you can add to your hanging baskets. Not a tall growing plant, the foliage of Bacopa tends to creep down the sides of planters or along edges of beds and does well in zones 9 through 11.
An easy to grow perennial that has a long growing season, you will notice the blooms from springtime until the first frost appears. This flowering plant requires full sun to part shade and does best in soil that is kept moist.
Bacopa is an herb that is commonly used to treat anxiety and memory disorders, among other issues. As an herb, the plant does well when planted in baskets with other herbs. The best way to keep flies away involves planting specific herbs that Bacopa will grow nicely with.
A great addition to any hanging basket is the easy to grow, pleasant smelling, and colorful geranium. Planting them in a hanging basket makes it easier to bring the plant indoors for the winter in climates that don’t provide enough sunlight for it to continue thriving. Your healthy plants will have no discoloration on the leaves and offer sturdy stems.
These plants require baskets or containers with holes for drainage to prevent root rot from forming. Baskets should be placed in a location where they receive up to six hours of sunlight a day. Geraniums require regular watering but allow the soil to dry in between each watering.
Reduce water during the winter months, but never let the roots get completely dry. Remove spent flowers to encourage new blooms to appear.
In the spring you may repot as necessary. When bringing the plant in for the winter, cut back the stems in a nice shape where they are no longer than eight inches and only water in winter when leaves begin to droop.
Best Hanging Basket Plant – Lotus Vine (lotus berthelotti)
The Lotus Vine may be declining in its natural areas, but it is so easy to grow from seed or cuttings that they are a popular choice in hanging baskets. The Lotus Vine features green-gray needle style leaves, which are deceiving. The leaves are not pokey as one would assume; instead, they are soft to the touch.
What catches your eye is the flowers, which resemble flames in color and shape. When caring for these plants, it’s good to know that aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites are known pests to watch out for. Other than that, routine care for the plant involves soil, location, and watering.
Plant these beauties in potting or garden soil that offers good drainage. If using potting soil, add a small amount of sand to improve drainage. Keep the soil moist, and avoid over or under-watering. Place the plant in full sun for the best results.
Ivy is an evergreen perennial that makes an excellent choice for hanging baskets as it requires very little care. It’s one of the best plants to grow and (almost) forget.
Ivy makes wonderful hanging plants for indoors at your home or office or for the outside on your porch or patio. The best part about growing it outdoors is that it doesn’t need direct sunlight and thrives in full to partial shade.
Ivy is ideal for hanging baskets as it provides the perfect green background for every color of flower available. It’s important to note that you will have to trim back and shape your ivy vines regularly, as the woody vines can spread up to 15 feet or more if left unattended. Ivy requires protection from hot weather and winter winds, so consider where you plan to hang your basket or move it as necessary.
Before watering ivy, always check the soil, as ivy prefers partially dry soil rather than moist. Use well-draining soil when planting ivy in containers and repot occasionally depending on the size of the plant.
Vervain or Tears of Isis (Verbena) – Best Plant for Hanging Basket
Verbena, also known commonly as Tears of Isis, works wonderfully in hanging baskets as it’s a spilling type of plant. For Verbena to thrive, give it at minimum six hours of sun a day and plant it in well-draining soil. The plant does well in a variety of soil conditions, as long as it’s well-drained.
The one downfall to Verbana is that if you do neglect it, there is usually no hope of saving it. The plant requires regular care and attention to prevent it from dying; hanging baskets and containers require more attention than the plants in the ground. The trickiest party in caring for Verbena is in its watering.
Overwatering or soil that doesn’t drain well increases the chance of the plant falling victim to stem rot. Not enough water and the plant quickly shrivel up and die.
During the hotter months, check the basket daily to see if the plant requires water. Look for limp foliage as a sign that it is time to water, along with dry soil. Cut off any spent foliage once a month to keep the plant looking its best.
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)
New Guinea Impatiens is an excellent plant for hanging baskets as they are a long-blooming flower that does well in sunny locations. These plants have very few pest problems, but it is still advised to keep homemade wasp killer on hand. The colorful flowers feature five thick petals and sit above the glossy variegated, burgundy or dark green leaves.
A known nectar producer, New Guinea Impatiens attracts butterflies and requires little care. They will bloom all season long without any deadheading; all they need is the right amount of sun and water.
These plants require full sun for at least half of the day and in hot temperatures, the other half of the day is best spent in the shade. Water these plants regularly; they are not drought-tolerant but should not be kept in soggy soil as that encourages the crowns to rot. Avoid watering from the top as much as possible.
Flowering Hanging Basket Plant – Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
When choosing Lobelia, it is best to view the plant as a seasonal plant. Lobelia does best in moderate temperatures, so you will notice it thrives during the early spring. During these cooler temperatures, you will see hanging baskets covered with tiny blue flowers with white throats just spilling over the sides.
By the time summer temperatures hit in early June, the plant is done blooming. Rather than waste time saving it, consider planting something else in the basket to take its place. Lobelia can grow just about anywhere, and once established, it requires very minimal care.
The main concern in hanging baskets is ensuring the plant receives enough water, so water frequently. Keep the soil moist, without being soggy and never allow the roots in the soil to dry out. To keep the plant looking its best, deadhead spent flowers as needed.
Black Eye Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)
The easy to care for Black Eye Susan vine provides a pop of color in hanging baskets. The flowers offer a solid colored center surrounded by almost clear colored petals. From a distance, the flowers look quite similar to daisies, but as you get closer, you will notice their tubular shape.
The center of each flower is a purple-brown color meant to mimic the center disk that you see with the perennial Black-Eyed Susan. The flowers are nestled among coarse green leaves in either a heart or lance-shaped form. If no support is found in the basket, the vines will flow over the edges of the container.
As these vines will take over the basket, plant alone or with another vine it can intertwine with. Place your basket of Black Eye Susan Vine in full sun for the healthiest plant with the most flowers. If your climate is on the hotter side, it may be beneficial to place the basket in afternoon shade.
These vines require organically rich soil with a neutral pH and they do not like overly wet or overly dry soil. To keep the soil evenly moist and prevent the roots from rotting, mulch around the base of the plant.
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas) – Hanging Basket Plant
If you are looking to add interesting foliage to your hanging basket, consider the Sweet Potato Vine with its trailing stems that reach up to ten feet long. The plant offers foliage in a variety of colors, including black, brown, red, bronze, gold, chartreuse, green, and purple. What makes the foliage of this vine plant so attractive is the heart-shaped leaves.
Older varieties will occasionally sprout lavender or pink tubular flowers, but the attractiveness doesn’t lie in these flowers but the leaves themselves. Sweet Potato Vines require a sunny spot and well-draining soil. These plants thrive in desert climates as their native habitat offers hot and humid conditions.
You will need to lightly prune and shape the vines as they can quickly outgrow their space. Use a quality potting mix in hanging baskets or containers and use a water-soluble fertilizer once a month. Sweet Potato Vine requires weekly watering but may need more water during hot spells.
Lantana (Lantana camara)
If you want to add an evergreen with a broadleaf to your hanging baskets, Lantanas are an excellent choice. Although classified as shrubs, these plants act a lot like vines. That behavior makes them a great option for hanging baskets as it gives their branches plenty of space to spill over.
The most striking thing about Lantanas is the round clusters of small, brightly colored flowers. Most people do dislike the way the flowers smell, but the citrus-scented leaves make up for it.
The drought-tolerant plants stand up well to salt spray, making them a popular choice in coastal locations. In the North part of the United States, this common perennial is treated as an annual and offers a fluorescent coloring of petals with different colored petals on the same flower.
You may bring the baskets inside for the winter, but these plants do not work well as houseplants. While they will grow in a variety of soils, they prefer slightly acidic soil that offers excellent drainage.
Flowering Hanging Basket Plant – Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime)
If you are looking for a drought and heat tolerant plant for your hanging basket, look no further than Sweet Alyssum. As a naturalized plant in the United States, Sweet Alyssum thrives in a variety of growing regions. The plant belongs to the mustard family but is named for its sweet and pleasant fragrance.
Although the plant is capable of self-sowing, it is not frost-tolerant, so plan accordingly if you want to enjoy the following years. These small plants grow about six inches tall and provide hanging baskets with clusters of tiny flowers that bloom in white, purple, yellow, salmon, and pink, depending on the variety.
Blooms begin to show in June and will last through October if you remember to cut back the dead flowers. Sweet Alyssum requires moderate moisture and well-draining soil and should not be transplanted outside until there is no risk of frost. These low-maintenance plants need full sun and are prone to stem rot and leaf blight if the sun requirements are not met.
Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
Million Bells are one of the best flowering plants for hanging baskets as they bloom continuously from spring until the first frost appears. The plant grows over the sides of hanging baskets, but it offers a dense trail of foliage rather than a spindly one. The one-inch blooms on the million Bells plant offer numerous primary petal colors with a throat that contrasts this color beautifully.
The flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds sit among compact, bright green foliage. Plant your Million bells in a location that receives full sun. Shaded areas with a sprinkle of sunlight or areas of afternoon shade should be avoided, as it will limit the number of blooms your plant produces.
In hanging baskets, use soil-free potting mix amended with compost to ensure optimal draining. Never let the soil dry out; it requires even moisture.
Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) – Best Plants for Hanging Baskets
The bright colors and trailing habit of the Moss Rose make it an excellent choice for hanging baskets. The Moss Rose grows up to eight inches tall with a 24-inch spread. The plant has a low water requirement but does need to be in full sun to thrive. At a minimum, this plant requires six hours of direct sunlight; shaded areas will cause it to close up its blooms.
The colorful flowers will remain closed on cloudy days and will close themselves up each night. Unlike other trailing plants, Moss Rose behaves and doesn’t outgrow its space, so it also makes an excellent ground cover. Although Moss Rose is easy to care for, it does require well-draining soil.
Although the plant is considered a succulent and drought-tolerant, it is not too related to cacti and needs regular watering, but will tolerate periods of dryness. Drip irrigation works best for the delicate blooms.
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