11 Flowers and Vegetables to Create Stunning Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets are a great way to add color and texture to any outdoor space, and are particularly useful for small balconies or porches where space is at a premium. Hanging baskets can be planted with a variety of flowers and vegetables, and the right varieties will also attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden.
Nasturtiums, impatiens, begonias, lobelia, and petunias are excellent traditional options for hanging baskets, or you could branch out and try something new with trailing snapdragons and pansies, portulaca, dichondra, and even a few vining vegetables like cherry tomatoes and peas.
In this article, we will go over the steps to create a hanging basket using these varieties, plus how to care for stunning hanging baskets to keep them looking fresh all season long.
Choosing the Right Flowers for Your Hanging Baskets
Just as with gardening in general, it’s important to consider your climate when planning hanging baskets. Most of the plants on this list are heat-loving annuals, so be aware of your area’s last frost, and don’t put hanging baskets out until the threat of freezing temperatures has passed.
Exceptions to this rule are pansies and snapdragons—these plants are more tolerant of cold weather, but bear in mind that hanging baskets don’t offer as much protection from cold temperatures as the ground, so be gentle even with cool-season flowers.
11 of the best flowers (and veggies!) for hanging baskets
Begonias, impatiens, and petunias are traditional choices for planting in hanging baskets, and while we do love these beautiful vining flowers, these aren’t your only options! You might branch out this year and try a spreading pansy or trailing snapdragon variety—or you might even try growing cherry tomatoes or peas in pots!
Planting nasturtiums in hanging baskets eliminates the need to trellis the plants vertically—instead, the vines and blooms hang down, looking effortlessly beautiful. Nectar-rich nasturtium blooms are a favorite food source for a number of pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies.
Impatiens are a classic option for hanging baskets, especially in areas that see some shade. Impatiens are susceptible to mildew, so elevating the plants in hanging baskets allows for better airflow and healthier blooms. Impatiens have moderate watering needs—moist but not overly wet soil.
Blue is the rarest color in nature, so add more beautiful blue blooms to your hanging baskets with lobelia. Lobelia tolerates full sun but growers in warmer climates will want to secure some shade for lobelia, or the plant may wilt in the heat. The tubular blooms are particularly nectar-rich and are a hit with hummingbirds and butterflies.
A favorite choice for hanging baskets for their wide range of colors and tolerance of heat, no front porch would be complete without a few begonia plants. Begonias are known for being quite prolific, blooming from late spring well into fall. Regular deadheading will keep plants looking fresh and encourage even more flowers.
Can’t get enough snapdragons in your garden? You’ll love the Cascading Lantern variety. These pastel-colored blooms have an almost tropical fragrance capable of turning your porch into a beachside cabana.
With so many colors to choose from, you’d be remiss to not include petunias in your garden. Petunias are one of the most popular flowers among gardeners and pollinators alike—hang a few baskets of petunias on your porch and you’ll see what we mean! Give your petunias at least 6 hours of sun a day and weekly feedings for the biggest, most vibrant blooms.
Pansies may typically be thought of as a groundcover or bedding plant, but Cool Wave Trailing Hybrid Mix is just perfect for hanging baskets. Big, beautiful ‘faces’ stem from vines that only grow half a foot tall but spread more than two feet.
More commonly known as moss rose, portulaca is a low-maintenance succulent option for hanging baskets. Hardy and tough, portulaca is better able to withstand direct sunlight and drier conditions than other plants. Sundial Hybrid Mix is one of our favorite ornamentals for hanging baskets—this All-America Selections winner blooms two weeks earlier than other varieties and boasts large blooms in 12 different vivid colors.
Add color and texture to your front porch with hanging baskets overflowing with blue-green dichondra. This low-growing annual makes an excellent ground cover or a gorgeous container plant when allowed to overflow its container. Dichondra is fairly drought-resistant and heat tolerant, looking fresh all summer long.
10. Tumbler Tomato
You could grow any cherry tomato in a hanging basket, but they’re bound to become unruly eventually. Tumbler is bred specifically for hanging baskets—this variety has a compact and determinate growth habit where it gently mounds and gracefully spills over the edge of a hanging basket, looking as lovely as the fruits are sweet. One of the earlier tomato varieties to mature, Tumbler is harvestable in as little as 49 days.
Want to save space and effort? Grow peas in hanging baskets rather than in the ground. You won’t have to trellis the plants, since the vines will just dangle down, and you can snack on fresh peas to your heart’s content.
How and where to hang your baskets for optimal growth
Hanging baskets are traditionally placed on porches, but you can hang your planters anywhere! Anywhere you can place a pole with a hook, you can set a hanging basket.
Containers and soil
It’s always important to only use planters that have drainage holes, and nowhere is this more essential than hanging baskets. You’ll also want to make sure that the containers are big enough to accommodate a full-size, mature plant. Fill the container with a potting mix that holds moisture but drains well.
Tips for hanging baskets in different settings
If you decide to place hanging baskets outside, out from underneath any kind of cover, bear in mind that heavy rains and wind might affect how the arrangement looks. Of course, if your hanging baskets are protected from the weather, you must remember to water them.
The importance of proper sun exposure
Take notice of how the light hits your hanging baskets at different times of the day. Buildings and trees will cast shadows that move throughout the day, so take note of where and when direct light hits your garden. Know if your plants need full sun, partial sun/shade, or full shade, and place them in an area where their lighting needs will be met.
If you want to plant multiple species in the same hanging baskets, make sure that the plants have similar light requirements.
Continuous care of hanging baskets (watering, fertilizing, and pruning)
The key to keeping hanging baskets looking nice is to consistently water, fertilize, and prune.
How to water hanging baskets
Most plants need consistent and regular watering to thrive, and some plants (like petunias) need even more moisture than usual. Because hanging baskets are elevated and exposed to wind, they may dry out more quickly than other containers and may need to be watered more frequently. Check hanging baskets daily for moisture, but only water if the surface soil has begun to dry out.
Best fertilizers for hanging baskets
Just like in-ground plants, hanging baskets require regular feeding. A balanced 20-20-20 blend will keep most flowers looking their best. Whatever fertilizer you decide to use, dilute to the manufacturer’s specifications and apply a stronger concentrated solution weekly or a less concentrated solution biweekly.
Prune plants regularly
It’s always a good idea to prune dead flowers and foliage, but this is especially true for plants in hanging baskets. Pruning promotes better airflow, which in turn results in less disease and less transference of disease between plants.
Plants that are good choices for hanging baskets are, by nature, more prone to breakage because of their vining habit. Keep the plants cut back to promote new growth and keep your arrangements looking more attractive!
Companion planting hanging baskets for beautiful and functional arrangements
When it comes to companion planting, the rule of thumb is to match plants with similar lighting, watering, and nutritional needs. You might also want to think about color schemes, staggered bloom times, and complementary textures to get the most out of your floral display.
Advantages of companion planting
Companion planting is a fantastic way to make the most of your hanging baskets. When done correctly, companion planting can minimize pest pressure and disease, attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and promote healthy plant growth.
When arranging hanging baskets, plant taller plants towards the center of the basket and shorter plants around the edges. Mix colors for an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, and vary textures for a more dynamic look.
5 perfect hanging basket pairings
These hanging basket combinations are a match made in heaven.
Create contrast but keep the maintenance to a minimum by planting different colors of the same species. Plant Easy Wave Blue, Easy Wave Red, and Easy Wave White together for an Americana hanging basket in time for Independence Day.
Vibrant shade garden annuals
Add some fiery color to the shadiest corners of your garden with begonias and impatiens. Both the white Santa Barbara Begonia and the scarlet Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia look striking when paired with any impatiens variety, but we love Double Athena Hybrid Mix for its roselike semi-double blooms that range in color from blush to ruby.
Cool-toned hardy annuals
Regatta Formula Mix Lobelia pairs perfectly with Cool Wave Trailing Hybrid Mix Pansy in terms of color scheme and growing conditions. These blue spring bloomers appreciate cooler temperatures, so they can be set out in the garden earlier than most.
Textured hanging basket
Silver Falls Dichondra and Alaska Mix Nasturtium certainly take the cake for the most stunning foliage. Dichonra’s petite, silvery green leaves contrast beautifully with the variegated lily pad-like leaves of nasturtium. Plus, both plants prefer full sun and are fairly drought tolerant, standing up to even the hottest summer days.
Edible hanging basket
If you’re a foodie, you’re probably pleased to learn that both Tumbler Tomato and Snak Hero Snack Pea are good candidates for hanging baskets. But did you know that these two vegetables are excellent companion plants as well? Peas are nitrogen-fixers, which really works to the benefit of tomatoes.
This is the only combination that you don’t want to plant at the same time—peas are cool-season crops that like to be planted outside several weeks before the last frost, whereas tomatoes are frost-sensitive. Plant peas in the basket first, and save room for tomatoes to be planted later on. Your basket may be a little asymmetrical since the peas will have a head start, but that will only add an edgy, cool vibe to your hanging garden!
Gardening enthusiasts and flower lovers alike are sure to appreciate the beauty and versatility of hanging gardens. From snapdragons to petunias, pansies to portulaca, and dichondra, this guide will introduce you to some of the best plants for hanging baskets, and offer tips and tricks for making the most of them.
Now that you have a foundational understanding of which edibles and ornamentals to use in hanging baskets, which plants to pair them with, and how to care for hanging baskets, consider yourself free to put your newfound skills to work!