The Best Colorful Plants for Hanging Baskets

million bells in a hanging basket

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Because hanging baskets are suspended at eye level or even higher, some plants show better at that height than others.  Many upright plants are not suited to being viewed at eye level or higher because at that height you are likely to be viewing plant stems and the undersides of leaves instead of blooms. In a hanging basket, the best plants to choose have visual interest when viewed from all sides or from the top. Plants that meet those criteria tend to be those with mounding, draping, cascading, or trailing growth habits. 

Tip

Plants grown in hanging baskets require more frequent watering than those grown in a garden bed. In warm weather, you will often need to water hanging baskets daily because they don't contain very much soil and 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 hanging basket plant is Chaenostoma cordatum, also known as Sutera cordotum, or more commonly as bacopa. This charming beauty produces small, five-lobed flowers that will drape over the sides of your hanging basket. Bacopa comes in several colors, including blues, white, and pink; the blue-violet blooms of ​Sutera 'Cabana Trailing Blue' are especially pretty. Bacopa blooms all summer if it is fertilized regularly and kept moist. To keep blooming during periods of severe heat, it requires shady conditions.

    One characteristic of bacopa is that it won't wilt when it's thirsty. However, it the soil does dry out, bacopa will drop its flowers and buds, so keep this plant moist and never let it dry out between waterings. If bacopa becomes too dry and stops blooming, don't despair; with proper care and enough water, blooms should reappear within a few weeks.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9–11; usually grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, blue, lavender
    • 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, ranging in size from tiny to towering to trailing to upright. While you might want an upright fuchsia for the center of your hanging basket, trailing fuchsia varieties look great around the outer 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 plant pairings or keep things simple and dedicate the hanging basket only to fuchsia.

    Fuchsias have a few specific growing conditions. They prefer temperatures of 55 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive in high humidity, making it difficult to grow them in hot and dry climates. They like to be kept moist but not soggy, and they're susceptible to root rot, so be sure to use a fast-draining potting soil.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10–11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white, salmon, 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)

    Trailing verbena in a basket

    Mark R Coons / 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, plant them in full sun, and make sure the soil is well drained. Verbenas can become 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 verbena varieties will bloom well into fall.

    Verbena is available in many different colors. Blooms can be solid-colored, have light or dark eyes, or can be bicolored. Verbenas pair well with many plants, including calibrachoa, creeping Jenny, sweet potato vine, bacopanemesia, and diascia.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9–11; usually planted as annuals
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, coral, red, peach, magenta, blue, purple, and violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 04 of 09

    Million Bells (Calibrachoa Group)

    A closeup of double purple Million Bells
    Kerry Michaels

    A hanging basket staple, million bells (Calibrachoa) are exceptionally easy to grow and will bloom prolifically throughout the season if given enough water and regular feeding. Calibrachoa thrives in full sun and moist but not wet soil; they can be prone to root rot, so water them only when the soil begins to dry out on top.

    During the growing season, Calibrachoa can become leggy and sprawling. If your Calibrachoa starts to look less full than you'd like it to be, simply cut it back, and it should grow back quickly and fuller than before. Calibrachoa pair well with most mounding or trailing plants and will spill over the edges of your hanging baskets, as well as fill in gaps between other plants.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9–11
    • Color Varieties: Violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze, white; solid or bicolor, single or double blooms
    • 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 registered trademarked name for a spurge hybrid, Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Inneuphdia'. Plants grow to about 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, producing clouds of tiny white flowers from spring to fall.

    Although this plant looks as if it could be finicky, it is extremely easy to grow. Both heat- and drought-tolerant, 'Diamond Frost' Euphorbia doesn't need much fertilizer. It combines well with other plants, fills in gaps between plants, and spills over the edges of hanging baskets. 

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

    Lobelia (Lobelia erinus 'Richardii')

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

    'Richardii' is a cultivar of Lobelia erinus that has a trailing growth habit. This trailing lobelia has narrow, dark-green oval leaves that are hidden by a mass of blue, purple, or white 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.  Sun requirements depend on the cultivar so be sure to read plant labels carefully. Traditionally, lobelia was grown in partial shade, but newer varieties can tolerate full to partial sun.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10 –11; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: White, many shades of 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

    Dichondra argenta 'Silver Falls' has tiny heart-shaped leaves on long, trailing stems that grow very quickly and quite lengthy. Every large hanging basket requires something to balance brightly colored flowers, and 'Silver Falls' is an accent plant that provides hanging baskets with an often-needed neutral color. 

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10–12; usually grown as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Silver foliage and stems; tiny greenish-yellow to white flowers in spring
    • 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 varieties) is still an excellent choice for hanging baskets. More upright, mounding varieties also work well as the center focal point in a hanging basket.

    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 hybrids tended to become leggy and untidy if not cut back, more recent varieties are free from this habit. The Tumbelina series of petunias are especially well-suited for hanging baskets, with fragrant, long-lasting, double flowers. 

    Petunias can suffer a bit in very wet and humid conditions. 

    • USDA Hardiness 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 are 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 begonia 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. 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 require a few hours of sun each day. 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 Hardiness 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