9 Best Colorful Plants for Hanging Baskets

million bells in a hanging basket

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Because most hanging planters are suspended at eye level or even higher, not all plant varieties work well. Many upright plants, especially those with flowers at the top, don't look great when viewed from this angle, because you end up looking at a lot of stems instead of flowers. In a hanging basket, the best options are plants that look good naturally when viewed from the sides or the bottom, and qualifying plants tend to be those with mounding or draping/trailing growth habits. 

Here are nine plants that meet that description.

Tip

Plants in hanging baskets require more frequent watering than the same plants require when planted in the garden. In warm weather, you will often need to water hanging baskets daily, since they will dry out quickly when exposed to sun and wind. Potting soil that is rich in organic material, such as peat, will retain water better than dry, porous potting mixes.

  • 01 of 09

    Bacopa (Chaenostoma cordatum or Sutera Cordatum)

    A hanging basket of bacopa
    Kerry Michaels

    A favorite container plant is Chaenostoma cordatum, also known as Sutera cordotum, or more commonly as bacopa. This charming beauty produces tons of small, five-lobed flowers that will cheerfully drape over the sides of your hanging basket. Bacopa comes in many colors, including blues, white, and pink; the blue-violet blooms of ​Sutera 'Cabana Trailing Blue' are especially pretty in baskets. Bacopa blooms all summer long if it is fertilized regularly and kept moist. It does not bloom as vigorously in severe heat, and it appreciates more shade under these conditions. 

    One thing about bacopa: It won't wilt—not even when thirsty. But if it does dry out, it will drop its flowers and buds, so keep this plant moist and never let it dry out between waterings. If your bacopa gets too dry, don't despair; with proper care, it should come back within a couple of weeks.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11; usually grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: Blue, lavender, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, fertile; slightly acidic
  • 02 of 09

    Fuchsias (Fuchsia Spp. and Hybrids)

    A closeup of fuchsias
    Stephen Ehlers/Getty Images

    There are many different kinds and colors of fuchsia, with ruffled, bell-like blooms that are so beautiful that they have every right to behave like little divas. Fuchsias range in size from tiny to towering to trailing to upright—and they all look gorgeous growing in hanging baskets.

    While you might want an upright fuchsia for the center of your hanging basket, trailing fuchsias look great around the edges, either on their own or paired with other plants. But be cautious when pairing fuchsias, because they tend to come in dazzling colors that can easily outshine other plants. Look for balance in your pairings, or grow them all alone by themselves.

    Fuchsias can be a little temperamental, preferring temperatures of 55 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also thrive in high humidity, making it almost impossible to grow them in hot and dry climates. They like to be moist but not soggy, and they're susceptible to root rot, so be sure to use a fast-draining potting soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white, violet, purple, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade; a few varieties tolerate full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moisture-retentive, fast-draining
  • 03 of 09

    Verbena (Verbena x)

    Tall Verbena
    AYImages / Getty Images

    Verbena plants are tough and easy to grow. They are heat- and drought-tolerant and will flower prolifically all summer if you feed them regularly, give them lots of sunlight and make sure they have good drainage. Verbenas do tend to get a little leggy as the season progresses, so don't hesitate to give them a light pruning every so often. While many varieties do not need deadheading, verbenas look a lot better if you deadhead spent blooms. Many verbenas will bloom well into fall.

    There are lots of different colors from which to choose, from single-color to variegated white to shades of pink, coral, red, and violet. Verbenas pair well with many plants, including calibrachoa, creeping Jenny, sweet potato vine, bacopa, Nemesia, and Diascia.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11; usually planted as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Pink, coral, red, violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 04 of 09

    'Million Bells' (Callibrachoa Group)

    A closeup of double purple Million Bells
    Kerry Michaels

    A hanging planter staple, million bells (Callibrachoa) plants are exceptionally easy to grow and will bloom prolifically throughout the season if given enough water and fertilized regularly. The 'Million Bells' variety (a trademarked name) loves full sun and moist but not wet soil; they are a little prone to root rot, so water them only when the soil begins to dry out on top.

    During the growing season, 'Million Bells' can get a little leggy and spread out. If your plant starts to look frazzled, simply cut it back, and it should grow back quickly and even fuller than before. They pair well with almost anything and will spill over the edges of your baskets, as well as fill in between other plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Color Varieties: Violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Diamond Frost (Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Inneuphe' DIAMOND FROST

    A closeup of Diamond Frost
    Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Diamond Frost is the trademarked name for a spurge cultivar, Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Inneuphdia'. Complicated name aside, this is one of the most popular and useful container plants out there—one that can make a mediocre hanging planter look finished and fabulous. Each plant grows to about 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, producing clouds of tiny white flowers from spring to fall.

    Though this plant looks as though it could be finicky, it is extremely easy to grow. Both heat- and drought-tolerant, Diamond Frost doesn't need much fertilizer. This type of Euphorbia plays well with others and will go with almost any plant, filling in empty spots and spilling over the edges of your hanging planters. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–12; usually grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 06 of 09

    Lobelia 'Richardii' (Lobelia erinus 'Richardii')

    flowering hanging lobelia (Lobelia erinus cultivar Richardii) (Lobelia Richardii)
    Justus de Cuveland / Getty Images

    'Richardii' is the cultivar of Lobelia erinus that has a trailing growth habit. It is available in many cultivars, such as 'Azuro', 'Saphire' (with deep blue flowers), and the 'Pendula' series. These varieties have narrow, dark-green oval leaves that are largely hidden by a mass of blue flowers that continue to produce in profusion all season long.

    Lobelias prefer soil that is a bit sandy but also rich in organic material, require regular water, and need to be fed every two weeks. They require plenty of space to grow, so don't crowd them in the basket. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 –11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Blue to violet, with yellow to white throats
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained
  • 07 of 09

    Dichondra 'Silver Falls' (Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls')

    Dichondra argentea silver falls ponysfoots green plant
    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    Every large combined basket requires something to balance the brightly colored flowers. Silver-leaved varieties of Dichondra are great trailing plants to fill in baskets with a neutral color. Unlike some other popular choices such as nepeta, Dichondra is virtually immune to mildew. 

    Dichondra argenta 'Silver Falls' has tiny heart-shaped leaves on long, trailing stems that grow very quickly. It provides an excellent backdrop for bright-colored flowering plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–12; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Greenish-yellow to white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 08 of 09

    Trailing Petunias (Petunia Group)

    Beautiful pink colored petunias flowers with sunlight in the garden. Petunia flowers in the garden. Petunias wave.
    3283197d_273 / Getty Images

    Although sometimes considered common, the ubiquitous petunia group, especially the trailing variety, is still an excellent choice for hanging baskets. More upright, bush varieties also work well in the center of large baskets.

    With new colors and patterns available each season, no flower provides the ongoing profusion of color as petunias planted in a sunny location. While early versions tended to become straggly and untidy if not cut back, more recent varieties are free from this habit. The 'Tumbelina' varieties are especially good for baskets, with double flowers that are fragrant and long-lasting. 

    Varieties with blue and mauve flowers can be especially good in very sunny spots. Petunias may suffer a bit in very wet, humid conditions. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: All colors except brown and black
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Trailing Begonias (Begonia spp., hybrids)

    Like fuschias, begonias can be an ideal choice for shady spots. Trailing versions are available in both corm and tuberous forms as well as seed-grown versions sold as bedding plants. Tuberous varieties include hanging basket hybrids (begonia x tuberhybrida) that have tender, drooping stems with large, wing-shaped flowers and huge flowers with neon-glowing flowers in deep shades of red, yellow, and purple. They are quite stunning on a deck or patio. Some seed-grown bedding varieties also work well in baskets, including those with semi-double flowers, such as 'Million Kisses'. 

    While corm/tuberous begonias require near full shade in very hot climates such as the southwest U.S., in cooler climates they ideally need an hour or two of sun daily. Seeded bedding-plant forms of begonia require more sun than the corm/tuberous varieties.

    Begonia baskets can be overwintered indoors if you can keep the humidity levels above 50 percent. Some gardeners also have luck digging and saving the tubers over winter for planting the following spring. Store them in a cool but dry area for the winter. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, yellow, salmon, rose, orange, white
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Light, porous, moderately rich