Plant Expert’s Guide to Best Flowers & Plants for Hanging Baskets

best plants to grow in a hanging basket

Assembling your own hanging basket with flowers and plants that match your style can be a satisfying experience.

But what flowers are best for hanging baskets?

I’ve been growing plants on our greenhouse farm for over 2 decades, and it’s clear that some plants grow great in hanging baskets…and some do not.

This post is a compilation of some of the top plants that are well-suited for hanging baskets, based on our experience of growing plants here in Pennsylvania.

Read on for some of the top flowers and plants to use in your next hanging basket.

Hanging basket flowers

Planting flowers in a hanging basket presents a challenge: choosing plants that will perform well, despite the limited growing room.

Fortunately, many varieties of annuals and perennials are a suitable choice for hanging basket flowers.

At Homestead Gardens, we grow hundreds of hanging baskets every spring for customers in Lancaster, PA, and the surrounding areas. Through the years, we’ve discovered a few types of plants that tend to grow especially well in a hanging basket.

Here’s our list of some of the best plants to grow in your hanging basket.

Top 20 plants to grow in a hanging basket

While many annuals and perennials can be grown in hanging baskets successfully, this list contains plants that we have found to be popular for their ease of care and beauty when planted in hanging baskets.

1. Ferns

Ferns in a hanging basket

Ferns are some of the most popular shade-loving plants for hanging baskets.

Since many hanging baskets are hung in shady areas like under a tree or a porch, ferns are a perfect option.

Given the proper care and length of the growing season, ferns will grow to be large and busy — making them stand out in a hanging basket.

Since they’ll grow to be large, make sure that you choose hanging basket companions that will be able to fend for their own. Typically, ferns are grown by themselves in hanging baskets.

Here’s how to water ferns.

2. Petunias

petunias in a hanging basket

Petunias, including wave petunias, can be great for hanging baskets as they tend to mound and pour out over the sides of the basket. The cascading effect of petunias, along with their plentiful blooms, makes for a beautiful addition to your home!

Wave petunia baskets are especially good for hanging baskets as they don’t require any deadheading.

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum can also be used in hanging baskets, but be careful you don’t overcrowd them, as these plants are even more vigorous growers than Wave petunias.

Here’s how to water petunias.

3. Begonias

begonias in hanging baskets

Most varieties of begonias grow great in sun or shade, making them a great, easy-care choice for a hanging basket.

Begonias are great for providing a full, spilling effect to your hanging basket. Some varieties, such as Dragon Wing begonias and BIG begonias will grow 2-3 feet tall and branch out with 5-inch long leaves.

Here’s how to water begonias.

4. Impatiens

Impatiens in a hanging basket

Impatiens are shade-loving plants, so they grow great in hanging baskets in areas that don’t get hit by the sun in the heat of the day.

Depending on the area, some Impatiens have been prone to Downy Mildew disease, so make sure this isn’t a common occurrence in your area. You can also find newer varieties of impatiens that are resistant to the disease.

Here’s how to water impatiens.

5. Fuchsia

Fuchsia in a hanging basket

Fuchsia plants have a unique flower design and love the shade (too much exposure to the sun will require more watering to avoid wilting down).

Fuchsia are normally grown when container gardening or in a hanging basket.

Here’s how to water fuchsia plants.

6. Succulents

Succulents in a hanging basket

Succulents are certainly a growing trend in the gardening world. Their desert origin allows them to withstand heat fairly well (depending on the variety), and their looks add beauty to your hanging basket.

7. Lantana

Lantana in a hanging basket

Lantana plants are beautiful mounding spreaders. These plants will produce small clusters of blooms with bright colors.

Due to their spreading nature, they are perfect for hanging baskets, as they’ll reach out over the edge and drape down the side of the basket.

Similar to succulents, lantana plants are drought resistant due to their origin, so they’ll want full sun in a hanging basket. If you have your lantana basket in part sun/part shade you may notice it doesn’t grow as many flowers.

Here’s how to water lantana.

8. Pansies

pansies in a hanging basket

Looking to grow a hanging basket in the early spring or fall? Pansies are a great option for this time of year.

Pansies are known for their hardiness with cold temperatures and they don’t grow the best in the heat so they are a great option for hanging baskets that are started early or later in the summer.

Here’s how to water pansies.

9. Verbena

verbena in a hanging basket

Similar to lantana, verbena will spread out in a hanging basket and produce flowers vigorously.

Here’s how to water verbena.

9. Sweet Alyssum

sweet alyssum in a hanging basket

Sweet alyssum, also called “lobularia maritima,” is known for its beautiful mini blooms that range from white to pink to purple.

Here’s how to water alyssum.

10. Grasses

Grasses in a hanging basket

Most types of grasses are great for hanging baskets. Some people like to have a thriller, a spiller, and a filler in their hanging basket, so adding ornamental grass helps to provide the height that a thriller would provide.

Here’s how to water grasses.

11. Calibrachoa (Million Bells)

Million Bells in a hanging basket

Calibrachoa, also known as Million Bells, is a favorite for hanging baskets. A 10″ hanging basket with just 3 Million Bells plants can make for a dazzling display of color and blooms.

Here’s how to water calibrachoa.

12. Lobelia

lobelia in a hanging basket

Lobelia‘s popular blue flowers and green foliage can make any hanging basket stand out.

Here’s how to water lobelia.

13. Portulaca

Portulaca in a hanging basket

Portulaca is a great choice for hanging basket flowers.

Their blooms’ wide variety of colors and succulent-like vines are often used for container gardening and filling a hanging basket up.

Here’s how to water portulaca.

14. Sweet potato vines

sweet potato vines in a hanging baset

Sweet potato vines are chosen as the spillers of many containers of flowers. Their vines can come in black, lime green, or darker green.

Here’s how to water sweet potato vines.

15. Vegetables or fruit

Strawberries in a hanging basket

Many produce vegetables and fruit plants will grow great in a hanging basket, especially strawberries, tomatoes, mini cucumbers, and lettuce.

16. Herbs

herbs in a hanging basket

Mint, chives, sage, oregano, thyme — all these herbs can all grow great in a hanging basket container.

Some growers will even start their herbs from cuttings and then pot them into a hanging basket.

Here’s how to water herbs.

17. Geraniums

geraniums in a hanging basket

Geraniums are good for hanging baskets as they add height and plenty of color with their large clusters of blooms.

Here’s how to water geraniums.

18. Ivy & vines

vines in a hanging basket

Similar to sweet potato vines, ivy is perfect for hanging baskets. Their beautiful foliage and lengthy vines can add a neat look to your porch.

19. Black-eyed Susan vine

Thumbergia in a hanging basket

Black-Eyed Susan plants, sometimes called thunbergia, can really look fantastic in a hanging basket. These plants will climb all over the basket, sometimes so much that you aren’t even able to see the basket.

20. New Guinea impatiens

New Guinea impatiens in a hanging basket

New Guinea impatiens are similar to impatiens but take slightly different care.

When growing your New Guinea impatiens, make sure to hang the basket in a shadier location. You’ll want to choose companion plants that can handle shade as well.

New Guinea impatiens will also grow well in other types of pots.

Here’s how to water New Guinea impatiens.

21. Mandevillas

Apricot mandevilla in our lancaster county greenhouse

22. SunPatiens


23. Dichondra


24. Supertunias

Supertunia Vista Paradise

25. Sun Coleus

Sun Coleus in a Hanging Basket

26. Marigolds

Watering marigolds

27. Creeping Jenny

vines in a hanging basket

28. Snapdragons

Watering snapdragons

29. Salvia

Watering salvia

30. Dusty Miller

Dusty miller plants

31. Portulaca

Portulaca in a hanging basket

32. Celosia

Watering celosia

33. Coleus

Coleus in a greenhouse

34. Zinnias

Watering zinnias

35. Gerbera Daisies

Watering gerbera daisies

36. Mexican heather

Watering Mexican heather

37. Spikes

Watering spikes

38. Bacopa

Close up of white bacopa

39. New Guinea Impatiens

Pink New Guinea impatiens blooms

40. Vinca

Vinca hanging basket

How many plants do you put in a hanging basket?

Another thing to consider is the size of the hanging basket. If you have a 10” (in diameter from the top) hanging basket, then you won’t be able to fit nearly as many plants in as you would a 13”+ hanging basket. 

Below is a helpful guide to how many plants to put in your hanging basket:

  • 10” hanging basket: 1-3 plants
  • 11” hanging basket: 1-5 plants
  • 12” hanging basket: 1-6 plants
  • 13”+: fill in the areas that you can.

When to buy hanging flower baskets

If you opt to purchase your hanging basket already planted, you’ll want to purchase your hanging basket as early as you safely can.

The advantage of having a hanging basket is that you can take the plant inside if you see it’s going to frost one night in early spring. 

After the chances of frost are gone, hanging baskets are great to be outside. The earlier you get your hanging basket purchased or planted, the more of its beauty you’ll be able to enjoy.

If you are buying plants to put in a hanging basket, make sure to wait until a good time to plant them outside.

Bonus: best hanging basket flowers to attract hummingbirds

Hummingbirds love flowers that provide them with the sweet nectar they crave. There are certainly some flowers that provide more nectar than others. Here’s a list of some popular flowers that hummingbirds love — you can plant these in your hanging baskets to attract these birds:

  • Fuschia: this shade loving plant is great for adding a pop of color to those darker areas of your lawn. Hummingbirds love the nectar these plants provide. These plants also have a unique flower type, which is attractive to both hummingbirds and humans alike!
  • Geraniums: geraniums grow great in hanging baskets and also help attract hummingbirds with their large clusters of striking flowers. Whether you are growing red, pink, white, or orange geraniums, they are great at attracting hummingbirds.
  • Mini petunias (Calibroachia): these plants provide hundreds of mini blooms to make up an impressive display of flowers. Hummingbirds enjoy feasting off the nectar on mini petunias.