7 Best Trailing Plants For Hanging Baskets – Create A Delightful Summer Display

Hanging baskets are a staple of the summer patio. Use these plants to create trailing masterpieces that add beauty and elegance to your outdoor space.

Petunias and lobelia trailing out of hanging basket
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There are so many ways to use pretty summer annuals: edging beds, in tiers of containers, and of course, when arranging hanging baskets.

Hanging planters add another dimension to an outdoor space. They create vertical visual interest and can even be used to provide some shade from the sun on a porch or patio.

The best trailing plants for hanging baskets drape elegantly over the sides in a romantic fashion. You can combine these with other types of plants in a thriller, filler, spiller design, and mix flowers with interesting foliage for a full composition. Or you can choose to highlight just one spectacular plant per container.

Whatever else you add, you must have trailing plants to make the most of a hanging basket. Here are some of the best options.

1. Fuchsia

Purple and white fuchsia flowers in hanging basket

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Trailing fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) is a long-time favorite for hanging baskets. You can find many varieties of this striking hybrid, but be sure to get a trailing type for your basket.

It should drape over the sides with plentiful, tubular, and brightly-colored flowers. Among the many hybrids, you’ll find mostly bi-colored flowers in shades of red, pink, purple, and white.

Only hardy in the warmest USDA zones, this is a popular annual plant in most of North America.

Fuchsia is perfect for shady areas and will even tolerate full shade. Provide soil that is fertile and retains moisture. Fuchsia plants need plenty of humidity.

2. Petunias

Red petunias in hanging bakset

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Petunias (Petunia x hybrida) are South American native flowers that comprise several species and many cultivated hybrids popular as annuals in North America.

You can find petunias in a rainbow of colors from white to nearly black. They are often used in beds and as borders, but petunias are also well suited for hanging baskets and will trail over the sides while filling up the top of the container.

Petunias need full sun, well-drained soil, and medium moisture. They tolerate poor soil.

One reason petunias have been popular for so long is that they reliably produce blooms from spring to fall. To ensure good continuous flowering, deadhead petunias regularly. It’s also important to pinch stems back periodically to avoid legginess.

3. English Ivy

English ivy trailing out of hanging baskets

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English ivy (Hedera helix) is a pretty vine that can be problematic in many areas of the garden. It is an invasive plant in most regions of North America, crowds out native plants, and can even cause structural damage.

A basket is a great, safe way to enjoy the pretty foliage of ivy as it spills over the sides of a hanging container. The glossy, dark green leaves are a nice contrast to bright annual flowers.

Ivy is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, so you can leave baskets in place through the fall and even longer for winter visual interest. English ivy is easy to grow. Provide it with average soil and medium moisture and a partially or fully shady spot.

4. Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) trailing

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Also known as moneywort, creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a ground cover native to Europe that trails nicely in hanging baskets. Mostly grown for its round, lime-green leaves, creeping Jenny also has pretty yellow flowers.

As with ivy, it can be invasive in North America, so keep it in containers only.

Grow creeping Jenny in full sun or partial shade. The leaves will be greener in shade and more golden in full sun. Use fertile, moist soil that drains well.

A fun fact about creeping Jenny is that you can also grow it in water. It makes a pretty pond or aquarium plant.

5. Million Bells

Hanging basket filled with yellow and red million bells or calibrachoa

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Million bells (Calibrachoa x hybrida), also known as calibrachoa, produce waves of trumpet-shaped flowers, a lot like petunias. They come in various colors and unlike petunias do not need to be deadheaded.

Flowers are small but prolific and come in shades of red, orange, coral, yellow, pink, and purple. There are double-flower varieties and some with two colors.

This is a good choice for hot climates. Million bells tolerate high temperatures and drought. They will grow in partial shade but bloom less vigorously.

The best conditions for million bells plants include rich, moist soil that drains well and full sun. It should bloom from early summer through the first frost of fall.

6. Boston Fern

Boston fern in hanging basket on porch

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A classic hanging porch plant, the Boston fern (Nephrolepis exalta) is easy to grow and provides interesting foliage. The gracefully arching fronds spill nicely over the sides of baskets, filtering and dappling sunlight.

Although you can add flowers, Boston ferns are striking enough on their own in a hanging container.

Grow Boston ferns in dappled or even full shade. They tolerate the heat of summer well as long as you keep the soil consistently moist. They grow best with ample humidity.

7. Lobelia

Trailing lobelia flowers in purple, blue, and white

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Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) is very popular for use in all kinds of containers. It comes in a range of colors but is most prized for various striking shades of blue and purple.

The flowers bloom profusely in a mound that spills over the sides of containers. Look for trailing forms for your hanging baskets.

Lobelia grows in full sun or partial shade. It prefers organically rich soil that stays moist and drains well.

You’ll get the best blooms from lobelia in spring and early summer. It may fade back a little in the heat of summer, so use it with heat-loving annuals like million bells or petunias.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.

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