Whether they’re mounted on a fence, suspended from a trellis, or bordering your doorway, hanging baskets are one of the most stylish ways to display plants in your garden and provide interest at eye level.
So what should you plant in them? There are hundreds of species that are suitable to be grown in hanging baskets, ranging from colourful flowers and bedding plants – to shrubs, evergreens and trailing climbers.
You can stick to one genus of plants, or you can plant a mixture, to achieve a more varied and multi-coloured look. If you’re doing this, you should also take into account the different flowering periods and care requirements for each of your plants.
To help you choose varieties that are right for you, we’ve put together this collection of 27 of the best plants to use in hanging baskets, in the hope that it will inspire you to add some blooming marvellous baskets to your garden.
Petunias are one of the most popular flowers to plant in hanging baskets – and for good reason. These pretty flowers bloom well, and come in a wide range of colours, from pink and purple, to yellow and black. Cascading varieties will fill and flow over the edge of baskets, creating a full look.
Trailing petunias are easy to care for – just hang baskets in locations with full sunlight, water frequently, and make sure the basket has at least one hole for drainage.
If your hanging baskets are in a partially shaded location, begonias can make for an excellent choice. Begonia ‘Million Kisses’ series is a semi-trailing variety, ideally suited to hanging basket growth.
These autumnal-coloured flowers will bloom throughout summer and into autumn. Be careful not to overwater your begonias, as they are susceptible to root rot.
Bright pink and purple fuchsias are another popular choice. They flower continuously from mid-summer until the first frosts, and their pendant-shaped blooms will give your hanging baskets a tropical look.
Choose a small, hardy variety, and plant in your basket in early summer. Keep them in a sunny or partially shaded location, and water the soil every 2-3 weeks to keep it moist, but not waterlogged.
Most sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are annual climbing vines, with small, showy flowers that are known for their sweet scent. Dwarf climbing varieties are the best choice for hanging baskets – their trailing vines will cascade over the sides.
Sweet peas prefer full sun or dappled shade. Make sure to deadhead them regularly throughout the growing season, to encourage new flowers.
The ‘Million Bells’ series are trailing annuals from the Calibrachoa genus. Their small, petunia-like flowers range from pink to yellow to blue and grow densely and abundantly throughout summer and autumn.
They can thrive in hanging baskets, as long as they have good drainage, and prefer a sunny, sheltered location. Million Bells are generally pest-free.
Fill your hanging pots or baskets with bold geraniums (Pelargonium) to add a splash of bright colour to the exterior of your home. These evergreen perennials can have red, pink, purple, orange or white flowers.
Geraniums love the warmth and will thrive best in a sunny spot. They do not fair well in frost, so you will either need to bring them inside over winter or replace them each year.
Lantana can be an evergreen or perennial shrub and is characterised by its wrinkly leaves and clusters of small flowers approximately 1cm wide. It grows well in hanging baskets and containers, providing they have good access to sunlight, and the soil is kept moist, but well-drained. Bring it inside or into a greenhouse during winter, to protect it from frost.
Black Eye Susan
Black Eye Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) gets its name from the dark brown conical disk at the centre of its orange or yellow flowers. This climbing vine flowers in late summer and early autumn, so plant it alongside an earlier-flowering plant if you want your basket to bloom for a longer.
Lobelia is an annual flowering plant with neat, compact foliage, and flowers that are usually blue, purple or white. It grows best in hanging baskets that are in full sunlight and prefers moist but well-drained soil. Add a liquid fertiliser every 2 weeks during the flowering period to encourage growth.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is an annual climber with simple lobed leaves and funnel-shaped flowers of red, orange or yellow. It makes a great trailing plant in a hanging basket. Grow in full sunlight and poor soil for the best results, as too many nutrients will encourage the growth of foliage, instead of flowers.
Portulaca is known for its needle-like foliage, as well as its colourful, cup-shaped flowers. Other names for it include rose moss and sun plant – it’s not surprising then that it prefers the sun. Place it in a South-facing location, and the tropical blooms in red, pink, purple and yellow will add a summery feel to your garden.
Lotus vine is also called fire vine, or parrot’s beak, thanks to its unusually-shaped red and orange flowers. A member of the pea family Fabaceae, this trailing vine makes a great addition to a hanging basket, where it will cascade over the edge. The blooms are short-lived, but the fine, bluish-green foliage is attractive in itself.
Another trailing plant that looks fabulous cascading from a hanging basket is sweet alyssum. Thread the shoots of this bushy plant carefully through the slits in your hanging basket to create a more full-bodied effect. The plant produces racemes of small and fragrant flowers, that will enrich your outside space.
Viola can be annuals, biennials or perennials, and feature clumps of distinctive, 5-petalled flowers. Colours range from blue and purple, to yellow and pink, often with a contrasting eye. These are another sweet-smelling flower, so perfect for placing in hanging baskets at nose level. Grow in nutrient-rich, moist soil, with good drainage.
Part of the viola genus, pansies are another highly popular choice for hanging baskets in the UK. These annual flowering plants flower profusely and produce blooms in a wide range of colours – deadhead regularly to prolong flowering. They’re also a good option for winter hanging baskets.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) are a symbol of springtime and make a bright and uplifting addition to your garden. The flowers are usually yellow and form in clusters on leaf rosettes. They are vulnerable to pests, including aphids, slugs and glasshouse red spider mite, so make sure to keep a close eye on them.
Of course, it’s not only flowering plants that are suitable for hanging baskets – you can also grow herbs and edible plants, such as cherry tomatoes. Place the tomato plant in the centre of the basket, and make sure to keep it well-watered. Hang it in a sunny location in your garden (wait until May or June to plant, to avoid the risk of frost).
If you want to grow a larger flower in your hanging baskets, tulips are a great option. These popular blooms produce vivid colours early in the year, so they’re suitable for winter hanging baskets – plant your bulbs in October or November, and your baskets will be filled with beautiful red and pink tulips come spring. Grow in fertile soil, in a sunny location.
This pretty, pale pink dwarf rose variety is perfect if you want to include roses in your hanging basket, as the flowers grow in small sprays, and don’t reach more than 2.5cm wide. For the best blooms, position your basket in full sun, plant in fertile soil, and apply liquid fertiliser in spring and summer.
Verbena can be annuals or perennials, and usually have small flowers with 5 petals, on toothed leaves. The flowers come in a wide range of colours, from cool blues and purples to hot pinks and reds, as shown here. They pair well with other plants in hanging baskets and will attract desirable pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, into your garden.
Upright lavender makes an excellent choice for the centre of a hanging basket. This perennial plant is characterised by its purple flowers and distinctive fragrance – you can expect blooms from late spring until mid-summer. Lavender is ideal for country cottages and modern gardens alike.
Clematis is a hugely popular plant for UK gardens and is suitable for hanging baskets. There are many different varieties, each with different sizes, flower colours and flowering periods – it’s best to choose a small, compact variety for container growth.
Spider plants make for another popular and attractive hanging basket plant. They are tender plants and are therefore usually grown inside as house plants, but they can be placed outside if the conditions are right. Move your spider plant outside during periods of warm, dry weather, and then bring it inside when it gets cold.
Diascia’s cup-shaped flowers are usually various shades of pink, and make an excellent way to add colour to your garden during summer. They prefer full sun, so try to find them a South-facing spot, and keep soil moist, but well-drained.
Impatiens produce sprays of spurred flowers in all colours. They are easy to grow and can flourish in partially shaded locations, as long as they are sheltered from the wind. Some protection from the rain is also appreciated, as the flowers are susceptible to grey mould in damp growing conditions.
With its cascading foliage, Million Hearts (Dischidia ruscifolia) will add lush greenery to your hanging basket display. This is another one that fairs well in partial shade, and it’s also tolerant to drought, so you don’t need to panic if you forget to water it.
Last but not least, ivy makes a good-looking and easy addition to a hanging basket. This climber grows well in a variety of conditions, including full sun and shade, and can tolerate most soil types. The Pittsburgh cultivar is compact and particularly suited to container growth.
How many plants do you put in a hanging basket?
How many plants to put in your hanging basket depends on the type and size of the plant. As a general rule, for small plants, you should aim to plant one for every 2.5cm of basket diameter. For example, if you have a 20cm basket, aim for around 8 plants.
For larger plants, such as fuchsias and geraniums, you will only need half this amount. When planting, place trailing plants around the edge of the basket, and carefully feed them through the slits on the side, whilst filling the centre with upright plants.
When should you start hanging baskets?
The best time to start a hanging basket depends on the types of plants you’re growing, and when they flower. For summer flowering plants, you should aim to plant in mid to late spring, ideally after the last frosts have passed.
If more frosts occur after you’ve planted, you will need to protect your plants by bringing them inside or into a greenhouse. For winter hanging baskets, you can wait to plant until autumn, around September or October.
How do you look after hanging baskets?
You should look after your hanging baskets according to the requirements of the plants you’re growing in them. Generally speaking, you should place them in a sunny, sheltered spot, and water regularly (as soon as the top of the compost feels dry).
You can also add a liquid plant food every few weeks during the growing period. Keep your plants looking their best by deadheading throughout the season, to encourage new flower growth.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.