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 those tend to be those with mounding or draping/trailing growth habits. Fortunately, there are lots of plants that meet this description.
01 of 09
Bacopa (Sutera Cordata)
A favorite container plant is Sutera cordata, commonly known as bacopa. This charming beauty produces tons of small, five-lobed flowers that will cheerfully drape over the sides of your hanging basket. It actually looks better in a hanging basket than it does planted in the garden. 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 thrives in full sun to part shade locations, and it 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. Even when it's thirsty, it will not wilt. If it does dry out, it will drop its flowers and buds. So you'll want to 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.
02 of 09
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 of the basket, 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. Though there are some that will tolerate full sun, most fuchsias are happiest in full to part shade.
Despite being fussy, beautiful fuchsias are well worth the trouble.
03 of 09
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, and some are hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
04 of 09
Million Bells (Callibrachoa)
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.
Calibrachoa comes in a fabulous array of colors, from very cool oranges, terra-cottas, and reds, to yellows, purples, and pinks. They pair well with almost anything and will spill over the edges of your baskets, as well as fill in between other plants.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Diamond Frost (Euphorbia 'Inneuphdia')
Euphorbia 'Inneuphdia' Diamond Frost 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 and is happy in full sun to partial shade.
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.
06 of 09
Lobelia (Lobelia richardii)
Lobelia richardii is a trailing form of lobelia that is available in many cultivars, such as 'Azuro,' 'Saphire,' with deep blue flowers, and the 'Pendula' series. They 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, and they are flexible plants, performing well in both full sun and part shade. They 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.
07 of 09
Dichondra 'Silver Falls'
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 has tiny heart-shaped leaves on long, trailing stems that grow very quickly. It provides an excellent backdrop for bright-colored flowering plants.
08 of 09
Trailing Petunias (Petunia Group)
Although sometimes considered common, the ubiquitous petunia group, especially the trailing versions, 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 tumberlina varieties are especially good for baskets, with double flowers that are fragrant and long-lasting.
Varieties with blue and mauve flower can be especially good in very sunny spots. Petunias may suffer a bit in very wet, humid conditions.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Trailing Begonias Trailing Begonias
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 of the Northeast or Midwest, they actually require at least an hour or two of sun daily. The potting soil should be light and porous, and moderately rich in organic material. Keep the soil neither soggy wet nor very dry. 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.