QUESTION: Which plants are the best to grow in hanging pots? I’m adding some hanging containers to my garden and am excited for their first year. — Linda G.
ANSWER: Hanging pots are an easy way to add some extra drama to the garden. With many hanging container options, you’ll be adding a splash of color as well. Keep reading to learn about the options we recommend for hanging gardens.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
When you imagine a flourishing garden of hanging plants, you’re likely to be visualizing the Boston fern. It’s one of the most commonly grown hanging plants and is a solid choice for gardeners in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10-12. In other zones, you can grow the Boston fern indoors. Whether Boston ferns are growing inside or outdoors, they’re sure to add a dramatic splash of greenery.
Boston ferns are perennial plants and can reach up to three feet tall by three feet wide. They do best when planted in moist, acidic soil that offers plenty of drainage. Boston ferns should be grown in spots that get partial sunlight.
Bougainvillea are attention-grabbing choices for the hanging garden. What appear to be swaths of colorful blossoms are actually leaves like others on the plant, called bracts, that change their color. In addition to the original fuchsia bracts, you can find bougainvilleas in apricot, pink, violet, and other shades.
Bougainvillea can be grown outdoors as a hardy perennial vine in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11 or in indoor hanging gardens in other zones. They need full sun (at least six hours per day) and can reach heights of up to 20 feet or more and widths up to 40 feet, though smaller varieties do exist. Bougainvillea is a low maintenance choice for hanging containers. When bougainvillea is grown indoors, it should be kept mostly dry over the winter for best results.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
A popular choice for indoor hanging gardens, the Christmas cactus can be encouraged to bloom year after year. Different varieties are available that will blossom in shades of orange, pink, purple, red, and yellow. The leaves resemble pointy links in a chain, and the blooms are like miniature orchids.
The Christmas cactus flourishes when given a spot indoors that receives partial sun. Plants can reach heights of six to 12 inches and widths between one and two feet. Hanging baskets make the Christmas cactus especially gorgeous in the indoor garden.
Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)
The moss rose is especially hardy and flourishes as an annual in USDA Hardiness Zones two through 11. The blossoming period begins in early summer and continues until first frost in shades of orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. The plants are low-slung at maturity, reaching heights of nine inches tall and widths up to 12 inches.
Portulaca grows best when given sandy soil that’s neutral to acidic, with dry to medium levels of moisture and plenty of drainage. This annual flowering succulent needs full sun (at least six hours a day of direct sunlight) to perform best. In addition to moss rose, portulaca also goes by the names Mexican rose, moss-rose purslane, rock rose, and sun rose.
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)
When the sweet potato vine is grown as an ornamental, it’s an especially hardy annual. Ipomoea batatas grows quickly in trails of lime green, silvery gray, or deep violet foliage. Plants are wider than they are tall, with mature heights of under six inches and widths between three and six feet wide.
The sweet potato vine is an easy way to add dramatic flushes of color to your container garden, whether it’s indoors or outside. The foliage is especially lovely spilling out of hanging baskets.
These five plants are the ones we recommend as best for hanging baskets. A few options can be grown indoors or out, while a few are best solely in an indoor hanging pot. Whichever of these plants you choose, you’ll have a flourishing specimen in no time, showing off its foliage in trails that sweep from the hanging basket container.