Even the smallest garden space has room for a hanging basket. Hanging baskets can also be surrogate gardens for apartment dwellers with patios or balconies. Some plants, like lime green or black sweet potato vines, provide colorful foliage. Others bloom from the final spring to first fall frosts, rewarding minimal effort with months of color. Many hanging plants thrive in full summer sun.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum) is a bushy, climbing or trailing hot weather annual between 1 and 10 feet long and up to 3 feet wide. Blooming from May to September, nasturtium has round leaves that vary in color from green to reddish purple or variegated. Trumpet-shaped, spurred flowers up to 2.5 inches wide are available in a host of warm colors from creamy white to shades of yellow, orange, red and mahogany.
Bushy, trailing nasturtiums suitable for hanging baskets include the Gleam and Jewel series, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant them in infertile to average, well-drained acidic (pH below 6.8) soil and full sun. Rich soil encourages foliage production at the expense of flowers. Plants appreciate afternoon shade during extended hot spells. Note that except for its roots, nasturtium is completely edible with a radish-like flavor.
Million bells (Calibrachoa) is a sun-loving, hanging plant hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Standing from 3 to 9 inches high and spreading up to 2 feet, the plants live up to their name with non-stop bloom from June until frost. Their trialing stems have dense, narrow, elliptical 1/2-inch green leaves. Rising above the foliage are 1-inch, trumpet-shaped blooms. Flower colors include white and numerous shades of yellow, pink, gold, blue, purple and bronze. Plant largely insect-and-disease-resistant calibrochoa, advises the Missouri Botanical Garden, in full sun and fertile, moist well-drained soil. Low-maintenance, it thrives in summer heat and needs no deadheading (removal of spent flowers to prevent seeds from setting).
Petunia (Petunia) is a tender perennial hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 9 and 12 inches high and spreading up to 3 feet, petunias bloom from spring until first frost. Their low-maintenance and long bloom makes them exceptionally popular as bedding and hanging plants, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Petunias have elliptical, 2-inch green leaves and funnel-like to double blooms. Flower size depends on cultivar, but can be as large as 4 inches across. Cascading hybrid varieties are suitable for baskets. Petunias come in dozens of solid and variegated colors. Most are sweetly fragrant.
Plants may suffer from root rot, gray mold, aphids, snails or a handful other problems. Give them averagely fertile and moist, well-drained soil and full sun. Deadhead to encourage new buds. Cut back plants that become too tall or decline in summer heat.