Create Stunning Hanging Baskets
Pick Drought-Resistant Plants
Create a virtually no-care container with succulents. We've found the biggest challenge of growing beautiful hanging baskets is keeping them from drying out. You can make maintenance a breeze with a planting of drought-tolerant hens and chicks, echeveria, sedum, or other succulents. They're an unusual choice, but require next to no watering, even in hot, sunny situations.
A. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) — 1
Create a Contrast
Even though they're old-fashioned, geraniums are still a top pick for hot, sunny spots—and they mix well with just about everything. (No wonder they're tried-and-true favorites.) This red geranium is dressed up with a flowing skirt of draping ivy and blue lobelia and a top hat of a simple dracaena for a classic look.
A. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Designer Cherry') — 1
B. Dracaena marginata — 1
C. Lobelia 'Waterfall Blue' — 4
D. Ivy (Hedera helix) — 3
Make a Statement with Bold Colors
It's tough to pick which is brighter—the hot pink or the bold gold. Either way, they're great colors to catch the eye from a block away. Up close, the mix of bloom sizes creates visual interest on a more subtle level.
Test Garden Tip: If your home is set back on your lot, choose bright colors to create more impact from the street.
A. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Designer Cherry') — 1
B. Swan river daisy (Brachyscome iberidifolia 'Mini Yellow') — 1
C. Nirembergia 'Purple Robe' — 3
D. Marigold (Tagetes 'Lemon Gem') — 3
E. Petunia 'Supercascade Rose' — 1
Use Soft Textures
Plants with small foliage and flowers create a fine texture that adds a touch of subtlety to your landscape. We love this simple but effective combination—it's like a touch of snow in summer. This basket is best in full sun.
A. Swan River daisy (Brachyscome iberidifolia) — 3
B. Bacopa (Sutera 'Snowstorm') — 3
C. Asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengeri) — 1
Choose a Classic
A lot of the baskets we've shown you rely on a bunch of different plants for creating contrasts in color or texture. But you can create equally good looks without going overboard. If plant choices feel overwhelming, choose a classic such as shade-loving impatiens and fill a hanging basket with their delicate-looking blooms all summer long.
A. Impatiens 'Victorian Lilac' — 3
B. Impatiens 'Xtreme Pink' — 3
Pick Plants with Bright Foliage
Purple leaves are all the rage these days, but they don't work out so well in the shade because their dark color tends to fade away. Happily, golden and chartreuse foliage are also red-hot among gardeners—and they're an excellent choice for adding color and excitement to a shady spot.
A. Fuchsia magellanica 'Variegata' — 1
B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') — 1
Use a Mix of Colors
Here's a great example of how fun new plants can add lots of interest to your yard. Old-fashioned impatiens and wax begonias are no-fail choices for shade—but they're enhanced by two wonderful newcomers, purple-leaf alternanthera and purple-flowering torenia.
A. Alternanthera 'Ruby' — 1
B. Torenia 'Catalina Blue' — 2
C. Impatiens 'Accent' series — 5
D. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Prelude Red') — 2
Try a Patriotic Theme
Bold and bright—what's not to enjoy about a red, white, and blue combo? Use lush, trailing plants like these to overflow a traditional hanging basket and eventually cover it with a skirt of eye-catching color. This basket grows best in full sun.
A. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Purple' — 2
B. Verbena 'Aztec Cherry Red' — 1
C. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum 'Bells White') — 2
Keep It Bold, but Simple
You can't beat calibrachoa (also called million bells) for its incredible flower power. Filling a basket with waves of color from just one variety like this is a great way to create a stunning hanging basket without the work of having to pick plants that look good together. Because calibrachoa blooms in just about every shade, you can find one that's the perfect complement for your yard.
A. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Rose' — 4
Select Soft Colors
If bold, traffic-stopping colors aren't for you, put together a basket full of elegance with soft, pastel colors. (Soft shades of pink, lavender, and blue are especially useful for helping hot, exposed spots seem a bit cooler.) Here, trailing plants such as verbena create a soft, beautiful display perfect for gardens of any style—from cottage to formal. This basket is best in full sun.
A. Verbena 'Tuscany Lavender Picotee' — 3
B. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Nightlife Rose') — 4
C. Browallia speciosa — 3
Pick an Unusual Plant
While geraniums and petunias are classic favorites, don't be afraid to take a chance with a new plant to create baskets your friends will ooh-and-ahh over. Here, butterfly orchid, an underused but long-blooming tomato relative, does the job perfectly. Grow it in sun.
Test Garden Tip: Do your research before growing a new plant so you can be sure it's appropriate for your spot.
A. Schizanthus 'Treasure Trove' series — 5
B. Cyclamen 'Laser White' — 2
Create a "wow" moment by using colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Here, for example, rich purple makes a stunning contrast to golden-chartreuse. This basket does best in full sun. By the way: This container looks as good as it smells; heliotrope is one of the most fragrant flowers you can use in hanging baskets.
A. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight') — 2
B. Heliotrope (Heliotropium 'Marine') — 2
C. Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue' — 2
D. Vinca major 'Wojo's Jem' — 3
E. Clerodendrum thompsoniae — 1
Select Fragrant Favorites
Create a container that's as pleasing to your nose as it is your eyes—it's easy if you pick your favorite fragrant plants. This combo mixes the spicy scent of dianthus with the subtle sweetness of viola for a basket you'll want next to a window or on your deck or patio. This basket is best in full sun.
A. Osteospermum 'Serenity Sunburst' — 3
B. Viola 'Sorbet Purple Duet' — 4
C. Dianthus 'Cinnamon Red Hots' — 2
Limit Your Plant Choices
Small baskets can create as big an impact as their bigger cousins—you just need to pick plants carefully. A secret for success is to practice restraint. Instead of trying to pack in a bunch of different colors and shapes, unify your planting with just one plant of a couple of varieties. This is a great way to add color to a shady spot.
A. Vinca 'Variegata' — 1
B. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens 'Sonic White') — 1
C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Trailing Plum') — 1
Video: Design Tips for Hanging Baskets
Watch this quick video for more ideas to create stellar hanging baskets.
Let Your Houseplants Spend a Summer Outdoors
Here's a tip for saving money when creating hanging baskets: Use what you have. Many houseplants grow well outdoors in a shaded spot. Rex begonias, for example, play off each other to great effect. In fall, bring them back indoors to enjoy them for the winter season.
A. Begonia 'Black Fang' — 1
B. Begonia 'Chocolate Cream' — 1
Use Full, Double Flowers
You can't go wrong decorating a shaded spot with the full flowers of tuberous begonia and double impatiens. Their rose-like blooms appear all summer long and make a hanging basket feel richer and more complicated than it really is. We love simple, effective combinations like this! Tip: Look for double impatiens in a wide range of shades, from white to pink to red and even bicolors.
A. Impatiens 'Fiesta Rose' — 2
B. Tuberous begonia (Begonia 'Nonstop Yellow') — 1
C. Bacopa (Sutera 'Abunda Blue') — 3
Change Through the Seasons
Your baskets don't have to be the same from spring to fall. Keep your display looking great by choosing cool-season plants for spring, such as these violas, then heat-lovers for summer. When temperatures drop in fall, replace your spent summer plants with more cool-season beauties.
Test Garden Tip: Cool-season plants will usually stay looking good longer in summer if you grow them in a shaded spot.
A. Viola 'Cutie Pie' — 10
Pick Your Favorite Color
Let your hanging baskets reflect your personality by filling them with your favorite color. Here's a fun pick for pink lovers: Shades of fuchsia brighten up this shady spot all summer long.
A. Tuberous begonia (Begonia Nonstop Pink) — 1
B. Impatiens 'Fanfare Fuchsia' — 2
C. Impatiens 'Dazzler White' — 3
D. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia 'Snow Crystals') — 4
Create Interest with Rich Colors
You can't go wrong with any of the petunias in the Wave series for tons of flower power on an easy-growing plant for the sun. We're enamored with the rich, deep color of 'Easy Wave Blue'—it's a showstopper by itself or combined with softer, lighter colors for a bit of contrast.
A. Petunia Easy Wave Blue — 1
B. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret White' — 2
C. Diascia 'Salmon Supreme' — 2
Have Fun with Neat Plants
A lavender-blue streptocarpella (an African violet relative, actually) is intriguing enough that your guests won't be able to resist taking a closer look. This nonstop bloomer is a perfect companion for anything orange or yellow—such as the glowing orange osteospermum here.
Test Garden Tip: Streptocarpella is a cinch to propagate. Just pinch off new growth tips and pot them up in a little potting soil. They'll root in a couple of weeks.
A. Streptocarpella 'Concord Blue' — 2
B. Bacopa (Sutera 'Snowstorm') — 2
C. Osteospermum 'Orange Symphony' — 2
Create a Mound of Color
See the difference accent colors make? This container uses some of the same plants as the last one, but the warm, glowing shades create a completely different look. This exciting combo is well suited to a spot where you entertain (like a deck or patio) because of its energizing colors.
A. Petunia 'Supertunia Priscilla' — 2
B. Verbena 'Aztec Silver Magic' — 2
C. Calibrachoa 'Starlette Yellow' — 2
D. Diascia 'Diamonte Apricot' — 2
Use Soft Colors to Create a Romantic Look
Color can affect your mood—so use it to your advantage. This is a great example; pastel shades of lavender and fuchsia pop with a bit of white to create a soft, romantic look in a sunny spot. The soothing combo is perfect for your favorite spot to relax with a good book and a glass of lemonade.
A. Calibrachoa 'Flamingo' — 2
B. Petunia 'Supertunia Priscilla' — 2
C. Verbena 'Wildfire White' — 2
Consult the Color Wheel
Another secret that interior and garden designers often use is to mix colors that jump a couple of spots on the color wheel. Here, for example, pale yellow adds subtle interest to this otherwise pink-red color combo of sun-loving calibrachoa and verbena.
A. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Light Pink' — 2
B. Bidens 'Solaire' — 2
C. Verbena 'Patio Hot Pink' — 2
Try Contrasting Colors
Here's another great example of how you can use contrasting colors to add an eye-catching display to your garden. Orange and purple are a no-fail mix that will leave your friends complimenting your color-combining skills.
A. Osteospermum 'Symphony Orange' — 2
B. Licorice vine (Helichrysum petiolare) — 2
C. Bacopa (Sutera 'Abunda Blue') — 2
D. Verbena 'Aztec Grape Magic'
Select Super Bloomers
Lights. Camera. Action! Super bloomers like sun-loving verbena and calibrachoa are ready to start putting on a show as soon as you plant them. They're dependable performers and will keep up their starring role in your landscape all summer long.
A. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Purple' — 2
B. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum 'Luminaire Yellow') — 2
C. Verbena 'Aztec Cherry Red' — 2
Try Several Shades of One Color
Create drama in your landscape with a container that mixes several shades of your favorite color. Here, hues of pink fill out and trail down the sides of this hanging basket. We love the inclusion of the coleus; its deeply colored foliage adds beautiful depth to the planting. Grow this beautiful basket in a spot with full sun.
A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Trailing Rose') — 2
B. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Light Pink' — 2
C. Verbena 'Wildfire Rose' — 2