The Q&A Archives: Hanging Baskets

Question: I want to plant 5 or 6 hanging baskets. Mustly shade/ some sun. I want nice full baskets. What plants/ what order?

Answer: The best plants for hanging baskets are those with trailing growth habits so they can hang over the sides. Here are a few suggestions:

Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas): This lovely cascading annual is grown for its foliage and while related to sweet potatoes grown as vegetables, the potatoes from this ornamental plant are small and bitter. The bright foliage of the sweet potato vine is anything but bitter however. Stunning green, dark black or variegated green and pink leaves (different cultivars are available) adorn the 2? trailing stems.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum Majus): Unlike the sweet potato vine, nasturtiums are grown not only for their gently cascading foliage, but for the bright and cheerful flowers which also happen to be edible! Nasturtium blooms have long been used as colorful garnish for salads and deserts, and the seeds as a peppery seasoning. Nasturtiums often have a cascading growth habit with trailing stems that are lovely in the garden for containers, mixed borders, or hanging baskets. The ?Gleam Series? nasturtiums are the best climbing or trailing varieties and can grow 2-5? long when given lots of sunshine or part shade where summers are very hot. If conditions are too hot in the summer nasturtiums may stop flowering.

Edging Lobelia (Lobelia erinus): This annual variety of lobelia is well suited for adding color and form to any garden spot and is not to be confused with the perennial form of lobelia, the Cardinal Flower. The trailing forms of lobelia grow to a maximum of 2-3? long and produce cheerful blue flowers most of the spring and early summer. Other cultivars may have white, scarlet or yellow flowers but all are attractive to butterflies. Technically a tender perennial lobelia will die anywhere north of zone 11 but often suffers from mid-summer dieback from the heat as well. Ideal for containers or to provide interest before summer blooming perennials take off.

Wave Petunia: The ever expanding group of petunias known as 'Wave Petunias' are excellent cascading or spreading form annuals that perform well not only in raised beds, containers and hanging baskets, but also in mixed flower beds where they are able to quickly fill in gaps between larger perennials. These petunias have large 3? flowers that are brightly colored in pink, purple and red hues of every shade, and grow on trailing, weeping stems about 3? long.

Fragrant Trailing Scandent Begonia (Begonia solananthera): While there are several varieties of annual Begonia that exhibit this trailing ? scandent (climbing) begonia, known as 'Brazilian Heart', is one of the nicest. Fragrant flowers are plentiful all spring, and the glossy heart shaped foliage is beautiful all season as well. The trailing begonias, like most varieties, do best in part shade; if the plant looks leggy with too-long stems it needs more light while if the leaves bleach out the begonia is getting too much sun.

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