The Best Plants for Hanging Containers

A gentle breeze sways the hanging baskets on your porch. Vibrant petunias cascade elegantly over the edges, their rainbow of colors brightening your outdoor space. I’ve always loved the charm and versatility of hanging containers. They allow you to add a touch of nature’s beauty to any corner, indoors or out.

In my twenty-year career as a gardener in Wisconsin’s lush landscapes, I’ve experimented with countless plants in hanging containers. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered which ones survive and thrive in suspended environments.

Join me today as we delve into the world of hanging container gardening! I’ll share my top tips on choosing the ideal vessels and suspension systems for your plants. Then, we’ll explore the best flowering, foliage, edible and succulent varieties to grow in hanging baskets and pots.

Understanding Hanging Containers

Before choosing plants, let’s consider the containers themselves. Hanging baskets and pots come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Take some time to think about your needs and style preferences before making a selection.

The Best Plants for Hanging Containers

Choosing the Right Container

The container material, size, drainage, and aesthetics are all critical factors when selecting hanging pots and baskets. Here are my top tips:

  • Material Selection: Material options abound, from weather-resistant resin and galvanized steel to natural rattan and terracotta. Consider longevity, durability, and weight when choosing.
  • Drainage: Proper drainage prevents waterlogged soil and root rot. Opt for containers with built-in drainage holes or reservoirs. You can also add pebbles to the bottom of the container to improve drainage.
  • Container Size: Select a size suited to the mature size of your plants. Avoid oversized containers, as this can lead to issues with soil moisture.
  • Design Aesthetic: From modern geometric shapes to classic wicker baskets, choose a style that fits your taste and decor. The options are endless!

Remembering these key factors, you can select the perfect vessels for your hanging plants. Now, let’s explore which plants are best suited to suspended environments.

The Ideal Plants for Your Hanging Baskets

When selecting plants for hanging containers, trailing varieties that cascade gracefully over the edges of the basket offer the most stunning displays. Here are my picks for the best cascading flowering plants, foliage, edibles, and succulents.

Best Flowering Plants for Hanging Containers

For gorgeous blooms all season long, you can’t go wrong with these flowering trailing plants:

  • Petunias: Available in almost every color, these heat and drought-tolerant blooms flower profusely from spring to fall. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers.
  • Begonias: With elegant cascading blooms in pink, red, and white, begonias thrive in partial shade and add graceful beauty to any hanging basket.
  • Fuchsias: The ballerinas of the hanging basket world, fuchsias dangle their delicate pink and purple blooms elegantly over the edges of containers.
  • Impatiens: Bright pops of color for shadier spots. Impatiens produce mounds of cheerful blooms from spring to fall.
  • Geraniums: Available in a rainbow of hues, geraniums trail abundantly from containers all season long. Remove spent blooms regularly to encourage new flowers.
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Hanging plants are a great way to add a touch of nature to your home

Best Foliage Plants for Hanging Containers

Looking for drama without the flowers? These trailing foliage plants offer striking textures and colors:

  • Ferns: With their delicate, lacy fronds, hanging ferns add an elegant touch to shady porches and patios. Keep their soil moist.
  • Ivy: Hardy and easy to grow, trailing ivy cascades amply over the edges of hanging containers. Prune occasionally to keep growth tidy.
  • Spider Plants: Speckled foliage and wispy baby spiderlets make this plant ideal for suspended containers. Thrives in bright, indirect light.
  • String of Pearls: Trailing strands of unique spherical leaves resemble pearls dangling over basket edges. Prefers partial sun.
  • Pothos: With its heart-shaped satiny leaves, golden pothos are almost impossible to kill. It trails abundantly in moderate light.

Best Edible Plants for Hanging Containers

In addition to visual appeal, edible cascading plants let you grow food anywhere:

  • Cherry Tomatoes: Perfectly petite for containers, cherry tomato plants produce abundant sweet fruit all summer. Give them full sun.
  • Strawberries: Imagine plucking sun-ripened berries as they cascade over your porch railing! Strawberries thrive in hanging containers.
  • Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and mint cascade beautifully over basket edges. Clip herbs often to encourage bushy growth.
  • Edible Flowers: Nasturtiums and violas add cascades of color plus edible blooms. Use them to garnish salads, desserts, and drinks.

Best Succulents for Hanging Containers

From sculptural rosettes to trailing strands, succulents are ideal for hot, dry spots:

  • Burro’s Tail: Cascading strands of plump leaves make this succulent look like a donkey’s tail swishing over the container’s edge.
  • Sedum Morganianum: Fluttering strands of tiny succulent leaves trail abundantly from suspended pots in the summer heat.
  • Echeveria: With symmetrical rosette shapes and colors, these sculptural succulents are perfect in hanging containers.
  • String of Bananas: Quirky dangling strands of succulent “bananas” will make you smile as they sway over basket edges.

With the right plants selected, it’s time to discuss care and maintenance to keep your hanging gardens thriving all season.

How to Care for Hanging Plants

Plant Care and Maintenance

While hanging containers may seem low maintenance, they require specialized care. Proper watering, fertilizing, sunlight, and pruning keep plants healthy and beautiful in suspended environments.

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Watering Your Hanging Plants

Plants in hanging containers dry out faster than their in-ground counterparts. Monitor soil moisture frequently and water when the top inch becomes dry. Here are some valuable tips:

  • Use self-watering containers or reservoir-equipped hanging baskets to reduce watering frequency.
  • Water thoroughly until water drips from the bottom drainage holes. This ensures the entire root zone gets hydrated.
  • Avoid wetting foliage, as this can promote fungal diseases in humid conditions. Water at the base of plants.
  • Add water-retaining gels or polymers to the soil mix to boost moisture retention.

Pruning and Deadheading

Regular pruning and deadheading keep hanging plants looking their best. Follow these tips:

  • Pinch and prune plants often to encourage bushy, compact growth that won’t get overly heavy.
  • Remove dead or damaged growth immediately to maintain plant health and appearance.
  • Deadhead spent blooms weekly to promote prolific flowering. Use pruners or simply pinch off old flowers.
  • Prune wayward branches growing inward or crossing over other branches for the best shape.

Sunlight and Placement

Most hanging container plants require full or partial sun/light shade. Here are some considerations:

  • Research your plant varieties’ specific lighting needs before choosing a hanging location.
  • Move sun-loving containers to progressively shadier spots as temperatures climb in midsummer to avoid scorching leaves.
  • Shelter containers from harsh winds can dry plants out quickly in suspended containers.
  • Provide bright supplemental lighting for indoor wintering of hanging baskets. Rotating the basket helps prevent one-sided growth.
How to Keep Your Hanging Plants Looking Fresh for Years

Feeding and Fertilizing

The lightweight soil mix of hanging baskets requires frequent feeding to fuel plant growth and blooming throughout the season.

  • Use slow-release fertilizer pellets at planting time to provide a steady nutrient supply for several months.
  • Feed plants weekly or biweekly with a diluted liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or compost tea. This gives an added nutrient boost.
  • Reduce fertilizer in the fall to help plants prepare for colder weather. Resume regular feeding when warmer spring weather returns.

With the proper care, your plants will keep growing and blooming abundantly in suspended containers for months!

Hanging Techniques and Installation Tips

Proper dependent techniques and hardware are essential to display your hanging container gardens to maximum effect.

Choosing the Right Support Structure

When selecting hanging supports, consider the size, drainage, and weight of your hanging container when determining weight limits.

  • Ceiling hooks are a popular option for heavier containers. Use sturdy hooks rated for ceiling installation.
  • Wall-mounted brackets can provide a compact solution for smaller containers in limited space.
  • Macramé plant hangers add bohemian flair but may not be suitable for large or heavy containers.
  • Shepherd’s hooks inserted into garden beds allow you to surround a focal point with suspended containers at varying heights.
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Creative Hanging Ideas

Looking for inspiration? Get creative with these charming ways to show off your hanging container gardens:

  • Suspend matching baskets at staggered heights on either side of your front door. Inherently welcoming!
  • Create a vertical garden of spray-painted wooden crates on a wall planted with cascading greenery.
  • Repurposed teapots, watering cans, and old boots make the hanging planters on a covered porch or patio quirky!

Let your imagination run wild when displaying your hanging container gardens. The possibilities are endless when you incorporate your unique personality and style.

Fresh hanging plants

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even experienced hanging container gardeners run into problems occasionally. Don’t be dismayed—most common issues are easily corrected with a few troubleshooting tips:

Addressing Overwatering and Underwatering

It’s a fine line between too much and too little water in hanging containers. Watch for these signs:

Overwatering: Wilting leaves, soggy soil, or root rot indicate excess moisture. Allow containers to dry out before watering again. Repot if necessary to address root issues. Add more drainage material.

Underwatering: Drooping, shriveled leaves, and dry soil signal underwatering. Increase watering frequency and volume. Use self-watering containers to maintain consistent moisture levels.

Pest and Disease Management

Good cultural practices help prevent most pest and disease issues. If problems arise, try these organic remedies:

  • Remove infested foliage immediately. Prune for improved air circulation.
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control soft-bodied pests like aphids, mealybugs, or mites.
  • Add organic fungicides like neem oil or baking soda spray to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Consider beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings to control pests naturally.

With attentive care and swift treatment of any issues, you can enjoy season after season of lush beauty cascading from your hanging containers.

Conclusion

These tips should inspire you to try your hand at creating stunning hanging container gardens! Choosing the ideal trailing plants, containers, and suspension system may initially seem daunting. Still, this guide prepares you to dive into the addictive world of hanging basket gardening.

These versatile gardens allow you to decorate any space with vibrant, living colors and textures. After following my suggestions, cascading blooms will soon be swaying gracefully on your porch, balcony, or inside your home.

As we say here in Wisconsin’s magnificent landscapes, happy planting and growing, friends! This season, I’d love to hear about your beautiful hanging container gardening adventures. Please share photos, questions, or tips in the comments below! Let’s nurture community along with our gardens as we grow together.

Happy growing! As always, I’d love to see photos and hear updates on your hanging container gardens.