The Best Hanging Flowers

Hanging baskets overflowing with flowering plants are a colorful way to beautify porches, entryways and outdoor living spaces and can be used in shady or sunny places. Many flowering plants are suitable for hanging baskets, which can contain a single plant variety or several different flowering specimens. To create a mixed hanging basket, put upright plants in the middle and spreading plants around the outside. Hanging baskets should be watered often and plants should be fed regularly with a balanced plant food. Deadhead spent flowers to promote rebloom.

Upright Plants for Sun

Old favorites like zinnias, geraniums, gerbera daisies, pot marigold (Calendula) and dahlias make excellent upright specimens for hanging baskets in sunny locations. Nothing beats sweet-scented heliotrope for fragrance. Choose medium-size varieties of the various plants; taller specimens are too large for most hanging baskets.

Upright Plants for Shade

Large New Guinea impatiens, with their showy flowers and glossy leaves, make great upright specimens for baskets. Some varieties also have dramatic variegated leaves. Tuberous begonias also combine colorful flowers with an upright habit. Keep large flowerheads from flopping over by inserting a short stake, which can be hidden by foliage.

Spreading Plants for Sun

Petunias and their relatives, the calibrachoas, are star fillers for hanging baskets. Calibrachoas have smaller flowers than petunias, but are borne in greater profusion and come in lots of colors. Portulaca, verbena and lantana also work well in sunny situations. Ivy-leafed geraniums fill space well and spill over the edges of containers.

Spreading Plants for Shade

Try fuchsia, with pendulous, solid or bi-colored blossoms in shades of cream, rose, pink and purple. Small-flowered, hanging basket-type tuberous begonia varieties are also good spreaders. Wishbone flower (Torenia), with blue-purple flowers, also works well, as do regular impatiens.

Trailing Plants

Many traditional trailing plants, like various ivies and the sweet potato vine, are known for foliage rather than flowers. However, there are a few that produce cascades of blooms. Some of the vining nasturtiums, like the lovely "Variegated Queen" variety, work well in sunny locations. Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia) and creeping gloxinia (Asarina) are good trailers that can thrive in partial shade.

Keywords: hanging baskets, container plants, annuals for containers

About this Author

Elisabeth Ginsburg, a writer with twenty years' experience, earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and has done advanced study in horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Her work has been published in the "New York Times," "Christian Science Monitor," "Horticulture Magazine" and other national and regional publications.