10 Outdoor Hanging Plants That Feel Totally Fresh (No Petunias Here!)

published May 16, 2024
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Whether you have only a small outdoor space or an entire porch to fill, outdoor hanging plants are a great way to squeeze in lots of greenery. Your local garden center or nursery is probably stocked up with tried-and-true hanging plant classics like petunias and Boston ferns, but there are actually a lot of plants that will grow happily in hanging planters.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with adding a splash of color with petunias or ferns, or even pink impatiens or cheery purple pansies — all are favorites! But this year, consider incorporating some more unexpected easy-to-grow flowers and other greenery into your outdoor hanging plant selections. Whether you choose these expert-suggested selections solo or combine them with other plants, here are 10 options to upgrade your classic hanging baskets.

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1. African Daisy

African daisies, scientifically known as osteospermum, are perfect for sunny patios. Plus, these outdoor hanging plants come in multiple tones that can complement your home’s exterior color or coordinate with other plants in your garden.
“Osteospermum comes in a variety of bold colors, and the roundness of the blooms makes for a nice pop of color in the basket,” says Laura Janney, owner of The Inspired Garden.

Encourage more flower growth in your African daisies by ensuring the plant gets full sun and deadheading any spent booms.

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2. Silver Ponysfoot

Trailing plants are a must for hanging baskets, and Jessica Mercer, PhD, of Plant Addicts, sings the praises of the eye-catching silver ponysfoot.

“The metallic foliage has a cooling effect on hot-color plantings and pairs well with petunias, coleus, lobelia, and calibrachoa,” Mercer says.

Silver ponysfoot can also provide a sleek, modern look on its own.

Mercer also stresses that silver ponysfoot is easy to care for and has no significant pests or diseases of concern. Put this outdoor hanging plant in an area that receives anywhere from part sun to full sun.

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3. Cherry Tomatoes

When short on garden space, consider hanging baskets for housing your veggies. Carrie Spoonemore, the cocreator of the From Seed to Spoon app, says cherry tomatoes flourish in hanging baskets.

“As a superfood and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium, it’s a popular choice for home gardeners,” Spoonemore says.

Plus, the trailing vines of a cherry tomato plant mean a tasty snack is always within quick reach once the fruit appears.

Cherry tomato plants require lots of sunlight to thrive.

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4. Ranunculus

With its delicate whirl of leaves, ranunculus is a highly sought-after flower for cuttings and arrangements, which can give an unexpected element to your summer hanging baskets.

Not only are ranunculus flowers on trend on their own, but they can also stand out when paired with more traditional picks. “I love using this as its bloom is so bold with a round shape, and its structure will stand out,” Janney says.

Choose ranunculus flowers in shades of orange, pink, or yellow to make a statement, or pick white for an understated look.

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5. Nemesia

One perk of flowering plants is that they often have a lovely scent that wafts through the air. Such is the case with Nemesia, an outdoor hanging plant that doesn’t mind cool nights and has a long blooming season.

“The more harsh-textured, small, compact leaves and darker hue of green foliage add a nice contrast to other, more soft foliage,” Janney advises.

With tones like purple, red, and yellow, the small flowering Nemesia is a lovely addition to others or can stand out independently.

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6. Oregano

If you don’t have enough sunlight on your windowsill to grow an indoor herb garden, try growing herbs like oregano in outdoor hanging planters instead.

Spoonemore recommends frequently used varieties like oregano and thyme, which are perfect for hanging plants due to their compact growth. “As cooking staples, these herbs require minimal maintenance, are drought tolerant, and thrive in well-drained soil, which is easy to achieve in hanging baskets,” she says.

Herbs also attract pollinators, which will help make the rest of your garden happy, too.

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7. Loropetalum

As a less commonly known flower, loropetalum’s wispy blooms will add textural interest to your outdoor hanging planter.

Linda Vater is a plant expert for the Southern Living Plant Collection and recommends loropetalum due to its seasonality. “It can anchor a hanging planter while cold/hot weather annuals or seasonal adornments are added as extras to set the tone,” she says.

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8. Scaevola

Janney also suggests adding trailing scaevola to baskets because of its interesting blooms. More commonly known as the fan flower due to its fanlike petals, scaevola’s sleek flowers and vertical leaves are perfect for anyone who’s looking for something beyond the traditional.

“Its very clean lines will give a modern feel,” says Janney. “It makes a nice contrast to more soft foliage.”

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9. Kale

If caterpillars and slugs keep claiming your kale plants, putting them at a higher elevation — that is, in a hanging basket — can help protect them. Plus, if you add other leafy vegetables to your planters, your hanging baskets can double as miniature lettuce gardens.

Spoonemore says lettuces “offer nutritious, tasty leaves, perfect for salads and cooking, and they’re hardy enough to withstand cooler temperatures.”

Having your veggie garden close can also help you harvest and eat more greens throughout the summer.

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10. Lantana

Do you often forget to water your outdoor plants? Then lantana may be the perfect fit for you. Not only is this flowering plant drought-resistant, but according to Janney, the smell is intoxicating, and the blossoms are lovely. “It’s so vibrant with its clusters of tiny flowers, and its foliage will add a bright and different look to your traditional planters,” she says.