Thinking of planting up your hanging baskets and balcony planters? What are the best plants to choose that will keep on blooming right through the summer season and into fall?
What are the latest trends? If you haven’t bought plants for hanging baskets for a few years you might be surprised by just what is available. The array of seasonal plants for hanging baskets gets bigger every year as new varieties are introduced by breeders.
The naming of bedding plants is rather confusing because of this; therefore I will avoid naming too many specific varieties here.
What to look for:
When you plant your hanging baskets and containers and put them outside will depend where you live. Many seasonal bedding subjects are not frost hardy so they will need protection until danger of frost has passed.
Buy young, healthy plants that look good when you buy them. Avoid dry plants and those with yellowing leaves and faded flowers that look like they have been hanging around for a while.
Choose colours and flower forms that work together and don’t mix too many varieties in a container. The trend is towards two or three subjects, several plants of each as necessary.
Similar flower shapes of different sizes will give that “patterned” look that is so in vogue. For example team up callibrachoa with bacopa. Or a small flowered petunia with callibrachoa.
My top 10 plants for hanging baskets are:
A pretty trailer with small green leaves and lots of delicate little single flowers in shades of white, mauve, pink and blue. A great mixer and ideal near the edge of baskets and containers.
Bacopa keeps flowering right through the season and doesn’t wither and fade when the weather gets warm. Succeeds in full sun or part shade.
Also called Million Bells, callibrachoa is a member of the petunia family. It has fine stems and small, narrow, pale green leaves and profuse, tiny trumpet-shaped blooms throughout the summer months.
It tends to be quite fragile and needs handling carefully as a young plant. Once established it has great staying power. Fantastic colour range from pastel to vibrant to suit any colour scheme.
The terracotta shades are great for sunset colour mixes or with blues. Try them with pale blue petunias.
Seed raised lobelia may be a hanging basket favourite, but once you have tried one of the selections of Lobelia richadii you won’t go back to it.
This is a cutting-raised lobelia, grown as individual plants, rather than clumps of seedlings. It produces fine, strong training stems with dark green leaves.
The flowers are sapphire blue, profuse and just keep coming. It does not give up and shrivel half way through the season. Different coloured forms are now available.
Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’
We used to grow trailing nepeta as the cascading foliage subject for hanging baskets. The problem is that it gets mildew – especially if the potting mix gets a bit dry.
Dichondra is a superb plant with tiny, heart-shaped shining silver leaves. The long training stems grow quickly providing a real impact from early in the season. A lovely foliage addition to any planting combination.
The trailing verbenas are well suited to sunny situations. Their stiff, trailing stems and pretty fern-like leaves are very wind and weather resistant.
The flower clusters are long lasting and are produced continually through the season, well into fall. Great colour range including some deep, dark reds and purples and vibrant pinks: go subtle or psychedelic.
Petunia – trailing:
There are a great many different training petunias, some raised from seed and some from cuttings. The early Petunia surfinia varieties were very rampant and became straggly and untidy during the season if they were not cut back.
My favourites are the doubles; many derivatives of Petunia tumberlina. These have fragrant, long-lasting blooms and a more compact habit.
The deep blues and mauves are lovely for a sunny spot: they do need full sun to do well and dislike a wet summer.
Begonia – trailing:
If you are planting a basket for a shaded spot begonias are ideal. Some can be grown from corms but you will find an amazing range amongst the seasonal bedding plants.
The ones with semi double, starry flowers: ‘Million Kisses’ and similar varieties are brilliant and their flower power is just amazing.
Fuchsia – trailing:
Trailing fuchsias are also good in semi-shade as well as in full sun. They flower throughout the season into fall and have a wonderfully graceful character.
Do position them where you can really appreciate the beauty of the hanging flowers. Although they mix well with other subjects trailing fuchsias lend themselves to solo planting. The pale pink ‘Heidi Anne’ on its own in a hanging basket takes some beating.
Nasturtium: Nasturtiums are very trendy at the moment in pots, in borders, the vegetable plot and in hanging baskets. There are many different varieties, bush and very tailing or climbing.
Avoid the most vigorous trailers for hanging baskets. Those with small dark leaves and vibrant flowers are worth looking out for.
Pelargonium – Ivy leaf:
Stiff, rather brittle trailing stems and waxy, shining ivy-shaped leaves and heads of single or double, long lasting flowers through summer.
These old favourites still have a wonderful character and presence. Choose a favourite colour and partner it with beautiful foliage.
This is a favourite combination of mine: deep burgundy blooms and the lacy aromatic foliage of a scented pelargonium. Full sun essential.
Keep watering, feeding and dead-heading where necessary throughout summer to keep your hanging baskets in tip top condition. Use a high-potash fertiliser such as tomato feed for more flowers.