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Hanging baskets overflowing with gorgeous blooms are popular housewarming gifts. These colorful flowers make ideal decorations for porches, patios and decks, but matching hanging basket plants with sunlight requirements is essential to keep these beauties looking their finest. Let's take a look at some of the best plants for full-sun hanging baskets.

Choosing Flowers For Hanging Baskets

By far, intense sunlight and the speed at which soil moisture evaporates are the biggest concerns when hanging flower baskets in full-sun exposure. Choosing flowers which are well adapted to hot, dry conditions is recommended. Two popular choices are Calibrachoa and Black-eyed Susan vines

Also called million bells or trailing petunia, Calibrachoa were introduced in the 1990's and soon became a favorite in hanging baskets for full sun and heat. They produce an abundance of 1 inch (2.5 cm.) petunia-like blooms in a variety of bright colors. Hybrid flower varieties can also be two-tone, striped or patterned.

Calibrachoa don't require deadheading and are fairly drought resistant. Water only when the top inch of soil is dry. During the heat of summer, hanging baskets may require water twice a day. Calibrachoa hybrids produce few seeds and are primarily propagated from cuttings, which may be prohibited as many cultivars are trademarked.

The Black-Eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) has also become a popular choice of trailing plants for containers in full sun. Unrelated to the daisy-like Black-eyed Susan (Redbeckia hirta) from North America, the Black-eyed Susan vine hails from tropical climates in Africa. 

Thunbergia alata likes moderately moist soil and will wilt if it gets too dry. Hybrid Black-Eyed Susan vines are available in a variety of colors and deadheading is not required. This vine can be easily started from seeds, but will readily self-seed in warmer climates.

Additional Full-Sun Hanging Plants

Although Calibrachoa and Black-eyed Susan vines have gained dominance in the hanging basket market, let's not forget the following fun and traditional plants which are also well-suited to containers:

  • Petunia – These fast growing annuals are available in a variety of colors. To produce a proliferation of velvety blossoms, keep petunias evenly moist and fertilize weekly. 
  • Ivy geranium – Although similar in appearance to the upright or cranesbill geranium, ivy geraniums are a vining plant that is well-suited to hanging baskets. They prefer full-sun exposure, but do best with a bit of afternoon shade during the heat of summer.
  • Portulaca – Also called the Moss rose, these succulents are drought-resistant and heat-loving. For a daily show of color, choose a flat-leaf hybrid variety which has been bred to flower on cloudy days.
  • Trailing lantana – Although technically classified as a shrub, this perennial has a compact, low growth habit. Be sure to wear gloves when pruning this hanging basket favorite as the sap causes skin irritation.
  • Ornamental sweet potato vine – From bright green to deep purple, sweet potato foliage adds color and texture to hanging baskets. These heat-resistant, drought-tolerant ornamentals may require pruning to maintain their shape. Clippings can be overwintered indoors in a glass of water, then replanted in hanging baskets the following spring.
  • Heliotrope – As an old-fashioned favorite in hanging baskets for sun-loving plants, heliotropes are prized for their highly fragrant blossoms. To keep them blooming intensely throughout the growing season, water and fertilize regularly.
Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.