Use these easy plant-by-numbers recipes to put together the most beautiful hanging baskets in your neighborhood.
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.
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.
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. Tip: If your home is set back on your lot, choose bright colors to create more impact from the street.
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.
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.
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.
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. Tip: You can create big impact, even without blooms, by picking plants with great foliage such as this alternanthera. Also consider coleus, sweet potato vine, dichondra, and plectranthus.
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.
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 colorfrom 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.
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.
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. Tip: Do your research before growing a new plant so you can be sure it’s appropriate for your spot.
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.
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. Tip: Other top picks for fragrance include heliotrope, sweet alyssum, and nicotiana.
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.
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.
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.
With their gorgeous shape and graceful hanging blooms, it’s no wonder fuchsias are favorites for cool, shady spots. They’re unmatched for their elegance. Fuchsias offer a great bonus, too: Hummingbirds love them.
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. Tip: Cool-season plants will usually stay looking good longer in summer if you grow them in a shaded spot.
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.