The Q&A Archives: annuals

Question: What type of outside flowers can i buy to put in hanging baskets that will cascade rather than stand straight up..I have asked the people at my local home depot garden center and they dont know. Thank you

Answer: Here are some great trailing plants for hanging baskets:

CALIBRACHOA - commonly called 'Million Bells'. The small petunias like flowers cover the plants from mid-spring, right up to early autumn. We have several colors in our garden, but prefer the rose-red, pink, white and violet ones. They also come in yellow, violet, bluish and brownish-orange and a few in-between shades. Flowers standout above the small, narrow bright green leaves. The new growth on this year's basket hung about 3 feet long. I particularly like the fact that it cleans itself, you do not have to pick-off the spent flowers. Use this plant by itself or in mixed baskets. Use it in full sun for best color.

BIDENS (ferulifolia)- we grow the trailing form of this prolific yellow flowering plant. There are several varieties like 'Golden Flame', 'Goldie' and 'Gold Marie', plus others. The lacy leaves are covered with yellow flowers all summer. It can grow a little spindly, so pinching will encourage a bushier growth habit. Varieties vary in growth from 10 to 18 inches or more. We find this most effective in mixed baskets. Ideal for a bright sunny spot.

SCAEVOLA - this is another great 'foolproof' trailing plant. The fan-shaped lavender to purplish, half flowers cover the plant all summer. This is another plant that is self-cleaning, you do not have to remove the spent flowers. The two varieties we have grown are 'New Wonder' and 'Purple Fan'. However there are new varieties like 'Fancy' that look very promising. We use this by itself or in mixed baskets. Ours grow about 12 to 18 inches long. Does very well in full sun, although we have grown it part sun and shade.

BACOPA (Sutera)- we have thoroughly enjoyed this trailing plant in our mixed hanging baskets. We use the white flowering varieties, and especially like 'Bridal Showers', although 'Bridal Bouquet' is also nice. Newer varieties like the 'Penny Candy Series' (pink, rose or violet) are worth a try. The variety 'Green-n-Gold' has very attractive variegated yellow and green leaves with white flowers. Our older plants hang 12 to 18 inches and pretty well clean them selves, so there are no spent flowers to pick. They like full sun, or part sun and shade. They are best-used in mixed basket plantings. Ours has survived the past two, mild winters, but don't count on that happening every year.

LICORICE VINE ( Helichrysum petiolare) - the silver gray leaves of this vine are a nice addition to any hanging basket. I also like Artemisia 'Silver Brocade' for its silver gray leaves, but it dies back, in late fall, while the licorice vine foliage stays nice weeks later. There are several varieties that merit a place in any hanging basket. Our favorite is 'Silver Licorice Vine' with its velvety gray leaves; closely followed by 'Limelight' which has lime green leaves. These plants will sometimes hang 2 to 3 feet. Grows very well in full or part sun, in soil that is well-drained.

TRAILING VERBENA - of course Verbena's have been around along time, but the newer trailing Verbena's are great hanging basket plants. We also use them in containers and cascading over retaining walls. The 'Tapien Series' was probably one of the first trailing types. But today, the 'Babylon', 'Twilight', 'Wildfire' and 'Aztec' strains, plus others merit a place in any hanging basket planting. Several will hang 12 to 18 inches or more and flower almost all summer. The spent flowers need to be picked, to keep the plants looking at their best. They are available in a wide range of flower colors, including, pink, rose, red, purple, lavender and white. The flower clusters of some varieties have a pleasant soft fragrance. Although they grow and flower best in full sun, they will also perform well in part sun and shade.

These are six of my favorite newer hanging basket plants. However, that doesn't mean the old standards should be overlooked. In the sun it's hard to beat ivy geraniums, lotus vine, creeping Charlie, trailing lobelia, ice plant, trailing snapdragons and all the new wonderful varieties of petunias, just to name a few. In the shade, fuchsias, hanging basket begonias, New Guinea Impatiens; standard impatiens, creeping Jenny, coleus and fiberous begonias are superb hanging basket plants.

Best wishes with your hanging baskets!

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