Pick Drought-Resistant Plants
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. Tie two hanging baskets together to create a fun DIY succulent orb, perfect for a spot in full sun.
A. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) — 1
Go With Old-Fashioned Favorites
Even though they're old-fashioned, geraniums are still a top pick for hot, sunny garden beds—and they mix well with just about everything. It's no wonder they're tried-and-true favorites for hanging baskets, too. This red geranium is dressed up with a flowing skirt of draping ivy, blue lobelia, and a top hat of a simple dracaena for a classic look in a full sun location.
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 geraniums and petunias or the bold yellow marigolds. 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. This basket will sizzle all summer long in a sunny spot.
Test Garden Tip: If your home is set back on your lot, bright colors help draw the eye and 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
Hanging baskets often rely on a bunch of different plants for creating contrasts in color or texture. But you can create equally good looks without going overboard, even in a shady spot with impatiens in similar colors. They will fill a hanging basket with their delicate-looking blooms from early summer to frost.
A. Impatiens 'Victorian Lilac' — 3
B. Impatiens 'Xtreme Pink' — 3
Pick Plants with Bright Foliage
Golden and chartreuse foliage are an excellent choice for adding color and excitement to a shady spot. Here, the yellow tones of a sweet potato vine contrast well with the hot pink blooms of a fuchsia. This combo will do best in a part sun location.
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 unusual annual plants can add lots of interest to your hanging basket. Old-fashioned impatiens and wax begonias are no-fail choices for shade—but in this basket, they're enhanced by purple-leaf alternanthera and purple-flowering torenia. All of these plants will do well in part shade.
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
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 one-of-a-kind baskets your friends will ooh-and-ahh over. Here, butterfly orchid, an underused but long-blooming tomato relative, does the job perfectly. This colorful combo will prefer a shady spot, and will stop blooming once summer heat sets in.
Test Garden Tip: Always check the growing conditions that an unfamiliar plant needs so you can be sure it's appropriate for the location you have in mind.
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. Plus you'll get the bonus of the wonderful scent—heliotrope is one of the most fragrant flowers you can use in hanging baskets. Place this basket in full sun to part shade.
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 by using 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
Think Small But Still Lovely
Small baskets can create as big an impact as larger ones—you just need to pick the right plants. The secret for success is to go for plants that stay smaller but have colorful leaves like coleus and variegated varieties of favorites like vinca. Add in an impatiens, and you'll have a colorful basket sure to brighten a shady spot all summer long.
A. Vinca 'Variegata' — 1
B. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens 'Sonic White') — 1
C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Trailing Plum') — 1
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 shady nook with the rose-like flowers of tuberous begonia and double impatiens. They'll add that little something extra to your hanging basket and keep on blooming all summer long. Look for double impatiens in a wide range of colors, 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 combination for fans of all things pink: begonias, impatiens, and sweet alyssum in various shades, set off with a few white impatiens. Hang these beauties in a shady spot, then stand back and watch the show.
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-to-grow plant that thrives in full sun. One of our favorites is Easy Wave Blue—its deep purple-blue tones make it a showstopper by itself or combine it 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. This basket will do best in a part shade location.
Test Garden Tip: Streptocarpella can make a great houseplant at the end of the growing season. Just pinch off tips of new growth before the first frost and stick them in a little potting soil. Keep them watered and they'll root in a couple of weeks.
A. Streptocarpella 'Concord Blue' — 2
B. Bacopa (Sutera 'Snowstorm') — 2
C. Osteospermum 'Orange Symphony' — 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, sun-loving combo is perfect for dressing up a front porch where you can relax with a good book and a glass of lemonade.
A. Calibrachoa 'Flamingo' — 2
B. Petunia 'Supertunia Priscilla' — 2
C. Verbena 'Wildfire White' — 2
Make Magic With 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 sunny spot where you entertain (like a deck or patio) because of its energizing, festive colors.
A. Petunia 'Supertunia Priscilla' — 2
B. Verbena 'Aztec Silver Magic' — 2
C. Calibrachoa 'Starlette Yellow' — 2
D. Diascia 'Diamonte Apricot' — 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
Use contrasting colors to add an eye-catching display to your garden. Orange and purple are a no-fail mix that will always make an impact. To enhance the effect, this arrangement weaves in some silvery tones from licorice vine. Try it in a full sun to part shade location.
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
Heat Things Up With Warm Colors
These warm reds and pinks combine into a fireball of color sure to add a touch of drama to your landscape. We especially love the inclusion of the coleus; its deeply colored foliage adds beautiful depth to the planting. Place this basket in a spot with full sun for best color.
A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Trailing Rose') — 2
B. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Light Pink' — 2
C. Verbena 'Wildfire Rose' — 2