The shape and size of your container plays a big part.
hanging baskets filled with floral plants outside

Not all beautiful plants make for beautiful additions in a hanging basket. Think about it: It's very likely you've never seen hanging baskets filled with some of your favorite towering plants, such as allium bulbs, sunflowers, or delphiniums—even if you have, chances are all you really saw were stems. As it turns out, choosing the right plants for hanging baskets is about so much more than just choosing the varieties that look good from below. According to Lester Poole, Lowe's live nursery specialist, there are a few factors home gardeners need to consider before building their hanging baskets. Here are three tips to help you choose.

Look for Sun and Shade Loving Plants

Poole says plants that thrive in hanging baskets are those that love the sun but can also tolerate partial shade. "Most people like to display hanging basket plants on a balcony, front porch, or back patio, which aren't always guaranteed spots for sunlight access all day," he explains. Plants such as begonias, sweet alyssum, or sweet potato vines are good options. As an added bonus, "the colorful leaves of sweet potato vines like full sun, but can tolerate drier conditions," he says.

Consider the Container Shape

"Container shape and size is crucial for the health of the plants in your hanging baskets," says Poole. It's a smart idea, then, to have your container picked before you go plant shopping. According to Poole, "the hanging basket needs to be large enough to allow root growth." And so, when you look for plants, be sure to read their tags to see how big they'll grow when they mature. If your container is on the smaller side, smaller flowers—such as impatiens, lantana, or pansies—make wise choices. "If you aren't sure," Poole says, "go with the larger container, as they dry more slowly and provide more even root conditions for all plants."

Mix Up the Colors

When it comes to hanging baskets, "there is no such thing as being too bold," says Poole, who recommends "a mix of red calibrachoa with yellow bidens for a strong, colorful finishing look." A good base for any color palette, though, is the Boston fern, a classic hanging-basket plant that "is prized for its glossy green foliage and fan-favorite shade tolerant characteristics," says Poole. The Boston fern is easy to grow, too: "After its first year in its basket or hanging pot, water it just two times per week," says Poole. "It's easy to care for and a fun accent no matter the region."


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