Designing a Hanging Basket

hanging baskets

The world of contemporary container design is full of possibilities and innovation. Container gardening allows you to experiment with a range of colors, textures, classic floral favorites, and new, exotic blossoms. Hanging baskets are a much-loved form of container gardening, because you can really play around with combinations of trailing plants and create a gorgeous overhead canopy of greenery. While a simple basket full of colorful petunias remains the standard go-to for hanging baskets, why not try something different and curate your own eye-catching display?

A Simple Formula for Hanging Basket Designs

Those of you who are well-versed in container design are probably familiar with the standard container design formula: thrillers, fillers, and spillers. You’ve got your thrillers: the flashier flowers and plants that take center stage. The fillers are more subtly attractive mounding plants that help balance out shape and texture. Finally, the spillers are trailing plants that pour out from the basket. With typical container gardens, the thrillers are the main event, but when it comes to hanging baskets, the spillers are perhaps just as prominent, if not more so. Some folks prefer just a little bit of spillage from their baskets, but others like a really grand display that cascades down longer and longer as the season progresses.     

Choose Your Hanging Basket Plants Wisely

When pairing up different plants to live together in a hanging basket, it’s best to choose plants with similar needs in terms of water and sunlight. If one plant needs constant watering, but the one right next to it prefers drier conditions, it will be difficult to keep both plants happy. You should also consider the speed of your plants’ growth— a particularly aggressive grower could end up smothering some of your slow-growing plants and hoarding all the soil nutrients for themselves. Do a little background research on your plants’ growing habits before popping them into the basket, just to make sure they’ll be compatible neighbors.  

If you’re really set on a combination of two or three plants that aren’t quite well-suited to living together, don’t worry, there’s a way to cheat the system! You can always fill a series of smaller containers, and then arrange them all inside a suspended basket. No one will be the wiser! However, it’s important to note that if you are choosing to use this method and are working with plants with different watering needs, you won’t be able to simply use your hose wand to water. These baskets will need to be taken down to target the plants that need the water, while leaving the others alone.

Trailing Plants for Hanging Baskets

We love the drama and vibrancy that long, vining plants add to hanging displays. With so many stunning options, it can be tricky to choose just one, but we’ve compiled a list of some favorites to help you on your way:

  • Golden Creeping Jenny: The bright lemon-lime foliage of this popular spiller plant will make a big statement, without taking away from the showy blossoms of your thriller plants. Water it regularly, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
  • Petunias: Ah yes, the quintessential hanging basket plant. These flowers can be aggressive growers, so pair them with a hardy upright plant that stands its ground. Osteospermum, alyssum, or ornamental grasses will be able to coexist peacefully with petunias.
  • Fuchsias: These distinctive hanging flowers are total showstoppers with tons of personality. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re particularly popular among hummingbirds!
  • Million Bells: This slightly smaller cousin of the petunia is one of the best hanging basket plants, producing densely packed blossoms in a whole spectrum of bright colors. They’re also self-cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about deadheading the spent blossoms.
  • Sweet Potato Vine: For a vibrant foliage plant that will complement the colorful blossoms of your thrillers and fillers, look no further than the sweet potato vine. Its sunny chartreuse leaves spill out into a waterfall of greenery, growing quite quickly with regular watering and lots of sun.  Keep an eye on this aggressive grower in case it starts to take over the container and prune it back if necessary.
  • Bacopa: Delicate white blossoms adorn this sweet and feminine spiller plant, creating a look that’s softer and less grandiose. Fun fact: bacopa has been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine for centuries, as it’s said to have a beneficial effect on brain function, blood pressure, and inflammation.
  • Burro’s Tail: We love how fun and quirky this trailing succulent is. Keep in mind that succulents are slow-growers, so this guy will do best in a container with other succulents, like echeveria and aloe.

It’s incredible how much a collection of hanging baskets can transform your patio or landscape into a colorful paradise. Who says flowers need to remain at ground-level? Suspend some hanging baskets along your property and enjoy the sights and scents of your magnificent displays for many months to come.

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