Hanging baskets are a great way to fill your patio, balcony or even doorway with long-lasting, colorful floral displays that don’t take up too much space. But what flowers are suitable for your hanging basket?
It can be difficult to know what flower combinations to plant. This guide to hanging basket flowers will take you through various planting ideas and floral suggestions. We will also explore how to plant a hanging basket and the best time to start planting your flowers.
Flower filled hanging baskets are a great way to introduce color and interest to your garden.
How to Plant a Hanging Basket
There are many different styles and sizes of hanging baskets. Aim to select one that is large enough to hold all your flowers. For most people, a 14″ to 16″ wide hanging basket is ideal and not too heavy when fully planted.
Before filling it with soil, you need to line the hanging basket. Coco coir is a suitable lining material. Some, such as the LUCCK Hanging Basket, come with a fitted coco coir lining.
After lining, fill your hanging basket with good quality, lightweight, peat-free potting soil. A product that contains both peat moss and perlite is ideal.
Once you have hung your baskets up, watering and fertilizing the plants can be tricky. Instead, work a slow-release granular fertilizer into the soil before planting. This provides all the nourishment your flowers need throughout the growing season. You can also work a water-retaining gel or Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals into the potting medium. This helps to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.
Water your plants every day if they are in a full sun position. If you are growing in partial shade, water every two days.
Don’t worry if your hanging basket looks sparse to begin with; once settled the plants soon start to flourish.
Generally, annuals or tender perennials are best when looking for hanging basket flowers. These are bred to flower throughout summer before dying in the fall or winter. However, with some extra care, you can also plant perennials for a hanging basket display that returns every year.
When Should You Start Planting?
When planting a summer flowering hanging basket, start the plants off early in the spring. This gives the plants time to establish themselves before flourishing.
If you don’t have anywhere suitable to keep them undercover, plant in mid to late spring after the frosts have passed. At this stage, it should be warm enough outside for your plants to survive.
If you want to give your plants a head start, you can plant up summer flowering displays in early spring and keep them in a greenhouse or conservatory until the frosts have passed. This gives the plants time to establish themselves before moving outside later in the spring.
Winter displays can be planted early in the fall.
Now that you know how and when to plant, it is time to look at some of the best hanging basket flowers for your garden.
What Should I Plant?
When it comes to planting a hanging basket, a combination of different types of plants is often used to create a pleasing, colorful effect that makes the most of the space in and around the basket.
Planting a mix of different plants creates a pleasing display.
When selecting your plants, consider how the different plants will work together. Try to choose plants that are suited to your climate and share similar light and water needs. This makes maintenance easier and ensures all the plants are happy.
The best planting combination utilizes the ‘thriller, filler and spiller’ planting technique. Here ‘thrillers’ are the standout plants in the center of the display, adding height and attracting attention. They are often large, colorful flowers.
‘Fillers’ fill in the gaps around the main plant. These are often more low-key plants, think foliage plants or small, dainty flowers. Finally, ‘spillers’ are vining or trailing plants that fall over the edge of the container, adding drama and drawing the eye.
Full Sun Hanging Basket Flowers
The following combinations of plants are suitable for full sun positions.
1 Red or Purple Petunias, Yellow Coreopsis and Variegated Plectranthus
Adding long-lasting color and interest to your garden, this sun-loving, thriller, filler and spiller combination works in partial shade.
Petunias are reliable hanging basket flowers that produce long-lasting single or double blooms in shades from dark purples to light whites. You can also find bi-colored, double and even double-ruffled types such as the ‘Thumbelina’ series.
Petunias are a reliable choice.
Another petunia variety, ‘Easy Wave’, is also a popular choice. This is a spreading variety that provides eye-catching, lush floral displays. Finally, ‘Spreading’ is another good petunia for hanging basket flowers. It is a spreading or trailing variety that thrives in full sun positions and creates a wave effect as it grows.
2 Yellow and Orange Nasturtium, Yellow Coreopsis, magenta Calibrachoa’ Million Bells Trailing Magenta’
Moving away from the idea of thriller, filler and spiller planting, incorporating only spreading or trailing plants can create a pleasing effect, particularly if your display is quite high. When placed on either side of a doorway or around a patio, masses of tumbling blooms make a pleasingly colorful effect.
Calibrachoa, also known as Million Bells, is a tender perennial that is commonly grown as an annual. Popular for their colorful, trumpet-like blooms, there is no need to deadhead the spent flowers.
You can find Calibrachoa blooms in various colors, including white, orange, yellow, red, pink and purple, making it ideal for a wide range of planting schemes.
Million bells are reliable trailing plants.
You can also plant yellow trailing daisies. In fact, some of the best hanging basket flowers are trailing plants or vines such as million bells and petunias. So easy to care for, trailing daisies also flower profusely. Available in various colors, make sure you pick trailing and not mounding types.
Other good full sun hanging basket flowers are:
- Osteospermum, famous for its colorful daisy-like blooms that last from summer to fall, is an excellent addition to most floral displays. Osteospermum is also popular with pollinators. Remember to take some cuttings to grow new plants for next year.
- Verbena produces small blooms in a rainbow of colors, including pink, red and purple. This is a classic choice for hanging basket flowers. Upright varieties can be used to provide the thriller element of your display. At the same time, trailing types can be planted to spill over the sides.
- Begonia, commonly used in shadier positions, are popular hanging basket flowers. Begonias are available in various colors and last all season long.
Perennial Hanging Basket Flowers
Hanging basket flowers are usually annual plants. This is because growing in such confined conditions is an intensive form of planting that drains soil nutrients.
Consequently, it is better to start with new plants and fresh soil every year. However,
gardeners in milder climates can try planting perennials. As long as the plants are hardy enough to survive the winter and with a bit of care, the right perennials can last for several years.
When selecting your plants, remember that some perennials are classed as tender, meaning they don’t cope with frosts. However, you can still grow these hanging basket flowers; you just need to overwinter them inside.
3 Deep Maroon Petunia, Pink Geranium and Sweet Potato Vine
In this combination, petunias and geraniums provide floral interest while the sweet potato vine spills from the basket.
Geraniums are a colorful choice.
Sweet potato vines tumble from your planters, filling the space below with large, colorful leaves. A quick-growing plant, the foliage emerges in shades of green, red, purple and bronze. A relative of the sweet potato, this ornamental variety won’t produce fruit.
The sweet potato vine is a herbaceous tender perennial. You can overwinter this alongside the other plants in the container or take cuttings to grow fresh plants next year.
Petunias, like geraniums, are commonly treated as annuals and are also available as perennial plants. While you can find annual types, petunias can, like geraniums, also be cultivated as perennials with the right care.
4 Blue and White Petunias with Lobelia Erinus
Mixing various petunias with lobelia Erinus is a great way to create a long-lasting perennial display.
Lobelias are amongst the most reliable bedding plants that you can find. Lobelia erinus is a trailing variety ideal for planting in summer displays. Flowering in a range of whites, purples, pinks and blues, this cultivar produces masses of small blooms from spring until fall.
Popular with pollinators, lobelias are a colorful choice for your planters.
Lobelia is best planted in full sun; however, many varieties also grow well in partial sun positions. While no deadheading is required, these plants can start to struggle if the soil is allowed to dry out.
5 Red and White Petunia and Million Bells, Red Geranium and Variegated Plectranthus
This scheme uses Plectranthus instead of lobelias to provide visual, trailing interest. Plecanthrus is part of the mint family and is popular for its colorful, aromatic foliage. You can find both annual and perennial varieties. You can either overwinter Plecanthrus alongside your other hanging basket flowers or take cuttings and root these on for new plants the following year.
Plectranthus foliage adds texture and fragrance to your planting scheme.
A flower-heavy combination, mixing petunias with million bells helps to create a colorful, long-lasting effect. Using a red Geranium, such as ‘Ivy,’ further complements the color scheme.
6 Light Pink Petunia, Purple Verbena and White Nemesia
Nemesia is a popular bedding plant; however, trailing varieties such as ‘Sunsatia Cranberry’ are ideal for planting as hanging basket flowers. A white variety such as ‘Safari White’ is perfect in this planting scheme.
Nemesia is a tender perennial. Make sure that you cut it back before overwintering; this encourages lots of healthy new growth the following year. Regularly trimming the stems also enables the plants to become more bushy; this is particularly useful if you are growing these plants in containers, where they have a tendency to become straggly.
Nemesia flowers can add masses of color to your planters.
7 Pink Geranium, Light Purple Petunias and Fuschia
Amongst the most popular hanging basket flowers, fuschia plants produce attractive bell-shaped bi-colored blooms that last throughout the summer. Trailing varieties in shades of pink, purple, white and red are available. They can be used to compliment your other plants.
Resilient and low maintenance, the fuschia is a half-hardy plant. This means that in cold climates, you need to overwinter these attractive plants.
Elegant fuschia blooms drape attractively from planters.
As we have already noted, geraniums are popular hanging basket flowers because they are easy to care for and are available in a range of colors. Classed as hardy perennials, the plants return year after year with the proper care. In addition, Ivy leaf varieties such as ‘Mini Cascade’ are easy to grow and colorful.
You can also grow pelargoniums, a close relative of the geranium, in your display. However, they are more tender than geraniums and are better treated as annuals.
Other Perennial Plants
Many perennial plants are suitable for including in floral displays; some of the most distinctive include:
- Sweet Alyssum is a fragrant plant producing small purple and white blooms.
- Erigeron Karvinskianus is a daisy-like flower that is ideal for cottage garden schemes.
- Dianthus or Pinks are blousy hardy perennials that last for a few years. Easy to propagate from cuttings, these fragrant blooms are a great way to add interest to your hanging basket.
Dianthus can be an effective choice for pots and planters.
Shade Loving Hanging Basket Flowers
Shade-loving plants may not produce as many blooms as other plants, but their foliage does provide long-lasting interest, color and texture throughout the year. With some judicious planting, you can create colorful displays packed with interest for even the shadiest of spots.
Some ideal shade-loving plants include:
8 Orange or Yellow Tuberous Begonias, Yellow Coreopsis and Creeping Jenny ‘Goldilocks’.
A reliable shade combination that adds a burst of yellow to your garden, you can use other types of trailing daisies if you don’t want to use Coreopsis.
Tuberous types of begonias are perfect plants for shady spots. Providing long-lasting color and interest, ‘Inferno’ is a particularly eye-catching variety.
Creeping Jenny produces small, yellow blooms; however, the plant’s main attraction is its golden foliage which trails down from your planters, providing an elegant backdrop for other, showier plants.
Creeping Jenny spills over the edge of planters for a dramatic effect.
9 Caladium, Asarina Scandens ‘Snow White’, Lysimachia ‘Goldilocks’ Creeping Jenny
Another colorful shade combination, here Caladium and Creeping Jenny combine to provide a colorful backdrop against which Asarina Scandens’ Snow White’ can flourish.
Caladium’ Rose Glow’ or ‘Celebration’ are ideal thriller plants; their foliage provides a long-lasting splash of color to your baskets.
A foliage plant, Caladium provides a dramatic backdrop for flowering plants.
10 Orange or Yellow Tuberous Begonias, Tradescantia Zebrina and Sweet Potato Vine
Tradescantia zebrina or the Wandering Jew is commonly grown as an indoor plant. However, in warm or humid areas, you can also plant outside. Elevating your Tradescantia zebrina means you can better appreciate the deep purple undersides of its leaves. The top of the leaves are striped purple and green.
You can also plant lobelia Erinus and variegated Plectranthus alongside your sweet potato vine for a fuller effect.
11 Pansies and Violas
A more simple but no less colorful idea is to fill your display with masses of pansies and violas. Mixing up many colorful varieties provides an eye-catching display that thrives in cooler climates.
Pansies and violas can make a colorful display.
Other Shade Plants
The following plants are also suitable for including in a floral basket:
- Ferns are a great shade option, providing your baskets with lots of lush texture and acting as a backdrop for showier plants. Boston Ferns are a great choice; in moist soil and away from direct sunlight, they produce masses of lush green foliage.
- Heuchera is an evergreen perennial popular for its vibrant foliage that adds color and texture to planting schemes. Heuchera foliage comes in a range of colors, from deep bronze to silvers. During the summer months, Heuchera also flowers.
- Bacopa are dainty, partial shade plants that look great in floral pots and planters thanks to their trailing growth habit. Flowering from summer to fall, these are low-maintenance plants that produce masses of pink, purple and white blooms.
Low Maintenance Hanging Basket Flowers
Floral displays can require a lot of work if you want to keep them looking their best.
If you want a colorful display but don’t have the time to spend tending to your plants, there are many low-maintenance options. Some of the following plants are not only low maintenance, but they practically thrive when neglected.
Low maintenance pansies are a great choice.
Already included higher up on this list, pansies are a brilliant low-maintenance choice. Happily growing with minimal care, all pansies really require is an occasional drink of water. While it is recommended that you deadhead the spent blooms, many varieties continue to produce new flowers regardless of whether the old ones are removed or not.
Flowering during the darkest months of the year, pansies are a reliable choice for winter and fall hanging basket flowers. You can find both annual and perennial types of pansy.
13 Golden Pothos
Unlike other plants on this list, golden pothos, or the Devil’s Ivy, may not flower, but its colorful foliage makes it a popular choice for indoor and outdoor planters. In addition, Golden Pothos is a low-light plant with a reputation for surviving in conditions that few plants tolerate. This makes it an ideal low-maintenance choice.
14 String Of Pearls
A common indoor plant, string of pearls can be planted outside in direct light. A succulent, once-planted string of pearls doesn’t need regular watering.
In late spring, the plants produce white blooms that add color and release a pleasing cinnamon fragrance.
Whether you are growing them inside or out, planting string of pearls in an elevated planter is a great way to keep children and pets away from its poisonous sap.
15 Edible Hanging Basket Flowers
Planting edible plants alongside flowers is a great way to add texture and grow some tasty snacks at the same time.
Bush varieties of cherry tomatoes, such as Losetto, are not only ideal but are also tomato blight-resistant. Hundreds and Thousands or Tumbling Tom are also good choices.
You can also grow edible plants.
Alternatively, you can also plant strawberries alongside your hanging basket flowers. A great way to protect the fruit from slugs and snails, plant in a sunny spot and soon the plants will be producing masses of pink and white flowers and flavor-filled fruit.
Many herbs can also be planted in elevated planters, some of the best are:
Hanging basket flowers come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors. The variety on offer means that you are certain to find something that is suitable for your garden.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.