Best plants for hanging baskets: 10 picks for stunning displays up high

Make the most of your plot's vertical space with these best plants for hanging baskets – from colorful flowers to cascading foliage

best plants for hanging baskets: million bells in bright colors
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Looking for a stylish pick-me-up for your plot? Then take a look at these best plants for hanging baskets. As it happens, these showy displays are making a comeback, and it's easy to see why.

Whether suspended from a pergola, wall bracket, or even a sturdy tree branch, hanging baskets are a fast and fun way to add tons of color and texture to a plot. And the best part is, they take up zero floor space, so are great for smaller gardens. Whether you go for romantic styles in pastel tones, vibrant block colors, or modern flourishes of foliage, they're a reliable way to bring a dose of good cheer to a patio or porch.

But before you get started, you'll probably want to know the very best plants for hanging baskets out there. That way, you can be sure that your display will turn heads for all the right reasons. So, we've rounded up our top favorite blooms and foliage, to help you create the perfect hanging basket for your garden. Just keep scrolling to discover them. 

And once you've got to grips with these gorgeous picks, head over to our hanging basket ideas for even more inspiration.

Best plants for hanging baskets: our top 10 picks

1. Petunia

best plants for hanging baskets: pink petunias

Available in tons of colors and sporting a prolific display – petunias have to be one of the best plants for hanging baskets

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If you've ever wondered how to make a hanging basket, then petunias have surely been on your radar. They're one of those best plants for hanging baskets that are truly timeless.

Available in a huge range of colors, it's easy to find a petunia that will complement the rest of your plot. From vibrant speckled looks and striped patterns (see 'Sweetunia Starfish'), to frilly double blooms and even velvety black tones (try 'Back to Black'), petunias can easily steal the show. Not to mention, they're hugely prolific too – a happy petunia plant will offer tons of blooms all summer long.

Trailing varieties are best suited for hanging baskets, however you could use the standard kinds to accent other trailing blooms, if you're going for a mix of plants.

In terms of maintenance, water and feed them weekly throughout summer. Deadhead spent flowers as soon as possible to improve the appearance of the plant and allow it to channel its energy into producing more blooms. Cut off any dried or shrivelled stems too, to keep it looking tip-top. And don't forget, petunias love sun, so be sure to position your display in a spot where it'll get plenty.

2. Lobelia

best plants for hanging baskets: indigo colored lobelia

Pretty lobelia will always turn heads with its jewel-like hues

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A stalwart of summer bedding and containers, trailing lobelia is a great filler plant. Available in white, blue, purple and pink varieties, it sports mounds of small, eye-catching flowers that will tumble over the edge of your hanging basket. Try 'Cascade Blue' for a gorgeously soft tone that would look lovely alongside our cottage garden ideas.

Lobelia is another of the best plants for hanging baskets that will flower all summer long. It's easy to grow, too. Plant it in partial shade, keep the compost moist and add a liquid feed regularly to keep the flowers coming. Try trimming the plant back after flowering to encourage a new flush of blooms.

3. Begonia

best plants for hanging baskets: red trailing begonias

For a show of vibrant color, begonias are definitely one of the best plants for hanging baskets

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A traditional favorite for hanging baskets, begonias offer bright blooms throughout the summer. Water regularly, but take care to avoid getting the leaves wet. They like sun or partial shade and a weekly high potassium feed (tomato fertilizer works well).

The experts at Perrywood Garden Centre recommend the 'Million Kisses' range, which is a group of trailing show-stoppers in bright shades of red, orange, and white, with dark foliage. They also have to be one of the most vigorous-growing begonias out there. The team suggest to use it as the 'spiller' for your basket (recommending to opt for one 'thriller' and up to three 'spillers' per display). What's more, it needs very little maintenance, the Perrywood team continues, and it isn't too fussy about sun or shade.

You can find lots of double-flowered begonias too, and some are pleasantly scented. 'Non-Stop Joy Mocca White' is an elegant number in a crisp white tone, which works well as part of a pared-back scheme.

Looking for more advice? Find out how to grow begonias in our guide.

4. Viola

best plants for hanging baskets: lilac violas

If you're looking for the best plants for hanging baskets for the cooler months, violas are a good choice

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Hardy pansies are one of the best plants for winter hanging baskets, but if you're after a more delicate look, then the smaller-sized violas are a must-have alternative. And, even though their flowers aren't as big, they will offer many more blooms per plant compared to pansies.

You can find all kinds of lovely color combinations – 'Johnny Jump-Up', for example, is a pleasing blend of bright purple, yellow, and white. Jewel-like amber tones look brilliant in hot-hued planting schemes, or go for a classic style with pretty white blooms.

They make great choices for spring and autumn displays as don't need the warmer temperatures to thrive. Pinch off spent flowers to encourage new blooms and keep well-watered.

5. Pelargonium

best plants for hanging baskets: pink pelargoniums in basket

Hot pink pelargoniums are a lovely choice for summer baskets

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The team at Perrywood Garden Centre recommends the brightly-colored, upright pelargonium as one of the best plants for hanging baskets. These blooms are most commonly seen in red, pink, and white, so choose the one to match your color scheme, the team suggests. It makes an excellent centerpiece, or 'thriller', and will continue flowering all summer long if watered, fed and deadheaded, they add.

These container and bedding plant favorites are commonly referred to as geraniums, however, pelargonium is in fact the correct name. Whatever you call them, they will provide welcome height, structure and long-lasting color in your basket. Trailing varieties are also available, and make a good option for baskets.

Maintenance-wise, pelargoniums do well in full sun. Take care not to overwater, but water well once the compost has dried out. 

They look lovely in all kinds of gardens, but are particularly reminiscent of hot, sunny terraces in the Med, so why not try pair them with our Mediterranean garden ideas?

6. Calibrachoa

best plants for hanging baskets: million bells in bright colors

A miniature version of the petunia, million bells makes a good contender for the best plants for hanging baskets

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Calibrachoa, otherwise known as minitunia or million bells, is a member of the petunia family. Its profusion of flowers looks good in a hanging basket alongside full-sized petunias, creating a nice play on scale. They come in a huge range of hues, including lemon-yellows, deep purple, and snow white. You can get double-flowering varieties too, such as 'Double Orange Red Eye'.

Calibrachoa grows well in sun and shade, and can even cope with the odd summer shower. Unlike petunias, they don't even need deadheading and just about look after themselves, so are fantastic if you're looking for low maintenance garden ideas.

7. Ivy

best plants for hanging baskets: three-tiered display with green foliage

Try adding some foliage to your hanging basket with trailing ivy

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The best plants for hanging baskets aren't just about flowers. For a shot of refreshing green, think about foliage too.

English ivy makes a wonderful choice for containers hung up high, as it trails down elegantly, will do well in shade, and is easy to grow. It's a good pick for winter hanging baskets (it's hardy against frost), but can be used in summer displays too. Plant alongside flowers, or take inspiration from the image above and let it take center stage. Look for variegated kinds for extra visual interest – try 'White Wonder', for example. Whatever look you go for, be sure to keep them well-watered.

You can grow ivy in containers both indoors and out, so it's also a good choice if you're after indoor garden ideas. However, if you do use it to brighten up your home's interior, remember to mist it frequently as it prefers humid conditions.

8. Fuchsia

best plants for hanging baskets: fuchsias

Fuchsias are a classic choice for hanging displays

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'For summer baskets, you can't go wrong with fuchsias,' says Chris Bonnett of GardeningExpress.co.uk. He suggests to combine them with pelargoniums, trailing petunias, vibrant bidens and cascading foliage plants for a gorgeous display.

Depending on the type, these plants can be sizeable hardy shrubs, or smaller plants fit for bedding and pots. The tender varieties with their exotic-looking pendant frilly blooms make a lovely addition to a hanging basket. Try hot pink and white 'Golden Swingtime', which has double flowers and vibrant green leaves. Gardening expert Mark Lane also recommends the trailing varieties. 'This bright, beautiful plant adds vibrancy and lasts all summer,' he says. 'I recommend planting around the outer edge of the baskets.' Try 'Rapunzel' for pale pink and purple flowers – it can grow over 50cm long.

Fuchsias prefer cooler, shadier conditions, and don't like full sunshine, particularly if summer temperatures reach 27°C (80°F) or more. Check them regularly for bugs, particularly where the stem and leaf meet, to prevent them taking hold and destroying the plant. Unlike hardy shrub fuchsias, these tender plants require protection from frosts from autumn until late spring. 

Find more tips on how to grow these fabulous plants in our guide on how to grow fuchsias.

9. Nemesia

best plants for hanging baskets: closeup of nemesia

Great for pollinators and sweetly-scented, nemesia is one of our favorite best plants for hanging baskets

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The perfect hanging basket and container plant, nemesia will flower for months during the summer. You'll find white, cream, lilac, blue, pink, red and yellow flowering varieties, and sometimes a combination of two colors and contrasting centers. Most varieties are pleasantly scented and are a real magnet for bees and beneficial insects.

Do not plant outside until late spring to early summer, to avoid the risk of frost. Add vermiculite or perlite to the potting mixture to improve drainage and position in full sun.

Want to welcome more pollinators to your plot? Take a look at our best bee friendly plants.

10. Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls'

best plants for hanging baskets: silver falls foliage

Dichondra argentea is one of our best plants for hanging baskets and looks stunning alongside small blooms

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Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls' is another of the best plants for hanging baskets if you're after striking, trailing foliage. Trailing to 1.2m, this plant is also known as silver nickel vine, and it's definitely worth its weight in (ahem…) silver. It produces a mass of heart-shaped leaves on silvery stems and is a great hanging basket filler. 

This plant flourishes in a sheltered spot in full sun, in well-drained compost. It really is easy to care for as it is very resistant to bugs and diseases. Move to a frost-free place to overwinter.

When should you plant a hanging basket?

best plants for hanging baskets: purple flowers

Pale purple blooms makes for an elegant feature

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According to the RHS, the best time to plant summer hanging baskets is from April onwards, so they make a great addition to your spring garden jobs. However, it's best to keep them protected under the cover of a greenhouse until all risk of frost has passed. From the middle of May, it should be warm enough to plant and hang your baskets up in their proper place without worrying about the temperature dropping too much to harm them.

There's more leeway for planting winter hanging baskets as you'll be opting for hardier plants that won't mind frost. If you plant them up in September and October, you'll be able to enjoy them in the autumn sunshine.

How do you make the best hanging baskets?

best plants for hanging baskets: petunias and verbena in bright arrangement

Once you know the best plants for hanging baskets, it's relatively easy to make a gorgeous display

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When it comes to making the best hanging baskets, these top tips from Chris Bonnett of GardeningExpress.co.uk will come in handy:

  1. 'Choosing different blossom sizes is key to creating a visually pleasing basket,' Chris says. 'Try using bigger blossomed flowers such as begonias in the middle of your basket and use smaller flowers such as lobelia around the outside.'
  2. 'Make sure that when planting up your basket you place the bigger flowers in first, to avoid squashing smaller trailing plants around the edges.'
  3. 'For the autumn and winter period, try using flowers like pansies and primroses, along with Cyclamen coum which has a distinctive spring fragrance that will brighten up even the dullest of January days,' Chris suggests. 'Combine with a few dwarf tête-á-tête daffodils in the top, and evergreen trailing plants like ivy.' Take a look at these best plants for winter pots for more ideas.
  4. 'Create a hanging basket that is as pleasing to your nose as it is to your eyes by opting for fragrant flowers,' Chris says. Creeping thyme, scented pelargoniums, or even fragranced begonias are good picks. 
  5. Gardening expert Mark Lane also suggests to add a climber or two to grow up the chains above your hanging basket. It's an often overlooked but lovely touch, he says. A sweet pea will look gorgeous whilst filling the air with a beautiful scent, or try a small variety of clematis.