Have you ever tried growing plants in a hanging basket only to realize that your choice of plants couldn’t handle the shade? Well, you’re not alone! Drawing from my experience, I’ve learned that choosing the right plants for hanging baskets is vital, especially when it comes to shade.
I’ve had some unfortunate experiences with plants wilting away due to lack of sunlight. But after conducting some experiments and trying out different plant varieties, I’ve discovered that some plants prefer the shade and can thrive in low light conditions adding a beautiful touch to my hanging baskets.
This article explores some of the best plants for hanging in the shade, from creeping jenny to trailing ferns and everything in between.
We’ll cover outdoor options, shade-loving varieties, and even some flowering plants that can handle both shade and hot weather. You’ll learn how to care for these plants and how to get the most out of your hanging baskets.
Begonias are a fantastic option for outdoor hanging baskets in the shade. They add a splash of color to any space while also thriving in cooler temperatures.
These plants can handle a bit of neglect and still bloom beautifully. In fact, once I forgot to water our begonia basket for a few days, it still managed to thrive and put out new growth!
With their ability to handle partial to full shade and their low maintenance needs, begonias can be a real game changer for anyone looking to add some life to their outdoor hanging baskets.
Begonias come in a range of colors and different flower shapes, and when in full bloom, the hanging baskets look magnificent. Try planting different colors in one basket for twice the effect!
Fuchsias are one of my favorite plants- it’s something about their dainty bell-shaped flowers that struck me from a young age. The flowers always looked suitable enough to wear as a pair of earrings!
Because of their blooms that naturally hand down in such a way when they are planted in a hanging basket, they look stunning. These plants thrive in well-draining soil that has the moisture content of a damp sponge.
These plants are shade plants, but they need bright indirect light. So, choose a spot where they can get indirect light for around 6 hours daily. They can handle the morning sun but shouldn’t be left in the blazing heat of the afternoon sun.
I planted fuchsias in a hanging basket, and they have attracted so many hummingbirds I had to re-fill my feeder every other day!
So, if you want to attract feathered friends while adding beauty to your outdoor area, fuchsias are the way to go. Don’t shy away from planting these beauties- they flourish in the shade and make your hanging baskets a real head-turner!
Impatiens, also known as Busy Lizzies, are a fabulous option for hanging baskets in shady areas. These plants are easy to care for and can provide a long-lasting bloom with their vibrant, eye-catching flowers.
One thing to consider with hanging baskets is the wind and rain; the fantastic thing about impatiens is that they can withstand a bit of roughhousing from the wind and rain, so they don’t need any extra shelter.
So, if you want to add some jazz to your outdoor baskets without too much extra effort, impatiens is a perfect choice. Impatiens have been a popular summer annual over the years and are available in a wide range of colors from
Lobelia is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to add some depth to their shaded outdoor hanging baskets. These plants have a unique cascading growth habit making them perfect for trailing over the edges of a hanging basket.
I once planted lobelia on my front porch, and they created a stunning curtain of blue and purple flowers that caught everyone’s eye.
They’re also pretty low maintenance and can withstand drying out between waterings. Lobelias can even handle a bit of frost in the cooler months, making them perfect for areas with cooler temperatures.
Ferns are a classic choice for outdoor hanging baskets in shady areas, and for a good reason. These plants have a soft, elegant look that ties a space together, adding a touch of whimsy to any outdoor area.
Some of my ferns hang from baskets under my patio, creating a lush calming atmosphere perfect for relaxing and unwinding. They are also easy to look after and can bounce back from even the most challenging conditions, whether overwatering or drought. So, ferns are a perfect choice if you want to add some serenity to your outdoor space.
Boston ferns and Rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia) are some of my favorite fern varieties. The Davallia are great for hanging baskets with moss exteriors.
The roots of these ferns are so interesting when they reach out of the baskets; they attach themselves to the moss basket, making them really fascinating- but also a little bit on the spooky side as they do actually look like rabbit’s feet trying to climb out!
Ivy is a versatile and hardy plant that can make a great addition to your outdoor hanging baskets. Their trailing vine-like growth creates a lush backdrop in your outdoor space.
These plants grow pretty quickly, so you may need to give them a trim if they get out of control. Hedera helix is one of the common Ivys, and the deep green foliage of these plants adds a real woodland feel to your garden.
Because they were initially found on the forest floor, they can withstand a range of conditions. They prefer consistently moist soil and bright indirect sunlight. On the mature plant, it blooms yellow-greenish flowers that are dome-shaped and in clusters on the umbels.
The flowers are not the main attraction of this plant as they are generally grown for their rapidly growing woody foliage.
Spider plants make a charming choice for outdoor hanging baskets in the shade. These plants have long strappy leaves that look like spider legs giving them a playful appearance.
When in suitable condition, these plants produce tiny babies called spiderettes, which look fabulous hanging down from the mother plant. Because of these spiderettes, they are super easy to propagate, so you can create more plants at no extra cost!
I grew a lot of spider plants in the nursery, especially in hanging baskets, and they are pretty easy to care for. They flourish in well-draining soil and moist soil and can withstand temperatures as low as 35F for short amounts of time without damage. My spider plant hanging indoors makes a real feature in my living room.
So, if you want to add some spider-looking fun and a bit of personality to your outdoor or indoor space like offices without windows, these plants are a perfect choice.
The sweet potato vine consists of vibrant heart-shaped foliage that can come in shades of green and purple. It can spread to 4 feet or more; the trailing habit makes it a great candidate for hanging baskets.
The leaves spill over the edges of the basket and create textural interest. Although these vines sound like they are going to produce sweet potatoes, they are a different cultivar and are grown for ornamental purposes only.
They are fast-growing in the right conditions, so pruning them regularly will keep them in shape. Sweet potato vines look similar to morning glory plants, but for me, I find the sweet potato a less invasive option.
Sweet potato vines prefer warm sunny days similar to their native habitat and don’t do well in frost. The amount of sunlight these vines receive will determine the vibrancy of the leaves. They grow well in the shade, but the leaves will become more vibrant in the bright sun.
Creeping Charlie, also known as ground Charlie, is a hardy, versatile plant that can thrive in hanging baskets outdoors in the shade.
This plant has trailing stems with rounded leaves that are typically green or variegated with a hint of purple, adding a splash of color to your patio. This plant is great for beginner gardeners as it requires very minimal care.
The Creeping Charlie belongs to the Lamiaceae family (mint), which makes it an edible plant. It has a minty fragrance and is often used in salads or cooked in stews or soups. Generally, this plant is grown as a ground cover that reaches 8 inches in height, but the vines hang down the edges because of its creeping habit when planted in a basket.
The Creeping Charlie blooms clusters of blue-purple flowers that are pretty small which add a dainty, fragile look. This plant is usually seen as an invasive weed because it can lock into lawns and take over gardens, but keeping it in a basket can control its growth.
If you’re looking for a fast grower with delicate flowers, the Creeping Charlie is a great addition.
Creeping Jenny adds a pop of bright green color to a hanging basket in the shade. It has small rounded glossy leaves and trailing vines. This fast-growing evergreen produces long vines that can reach up to 30 feet. So, this is the way to go if you are looking for a plant that will hang down to a long length.
The Creeping jenny is an Asian native and produces bright yellow flowers that are pretty short-lived. It is part of the primrose family (Primulaceae) and also goes by the name of moneywort or Lysmachia; it is often found growing near waterways.
This plant is considered invasive, so avoid hanging it near a lawn or a flower bed where its seeds can drop and take over. In the full sun, the Creeping Jenny will showcase bright yellowy green leaves, whereas they will be a deeper color in the shade.
This makes them easily adaptable to areas that are mostly shaded with occasional direct sun.
Creeping thyme is a low-growing perennial herb that is perfect for hanging baskets in the shade. It has a delightful fragrance and produces tiny bright pink, white, or purple flowers in the summer. Its trailing habit makes it ideal for hanging baskets, as it will spill over the sides and create a lush cascading effect.
I always favor finding multi-function plants- herbs are remarkable for their aesthetic properties, repel flies, and can be used in the kitchen- triple win!
Creeping thyme can thrive in varying conditions, including shade, and it requires well-draining soil and regular watering- but not overwatered.
To keep it looking its best, prune it regularly and remove any dead or damaged leaves.
Snow in Summer
Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) is an evergreen perennial that produces a blanket of white flowers in the summer. Despite its soft, delicate look, it’s a hardy plant that can tolerate heat, drought, and even cold temperatures.
You can use Snow in Summer to add a touch of class to shaded areas when in hanging baskets. Its trailing growth habit and delicate white flowers make it a charming addition to any outdoor space.
It’s incredible resilience to nature and adaptability to varying weather conditions make it a perfect choice for beginner gardeners. Plus, the serene atmosphere of white flowers makes it perfect for relaxation after a long day.
One of my favorite features of this plant is the color of the leaves. They are a silvery grey color and have an almost velvety look to them- this can add a real softness to your garden. This plant is low growing and just reaches a height of 6 inches, but when in a basket, they hang down to 18 inches.
If you have a chance to see these in full bloom, you will see how they got their name!
New Guinea Impatiens are beautiful flowering plants that can add a splash of vibrant color to your patio or verandah. These plants bloom profusely and look spectacular in hanging baskets.
They are annual plants and love well-drained soil with partial shade. There’s no panic if the sunlight hits them for a short time as they can tolerate some sun.
The New Guinea Impatiens are available in various colors, from orange, pink, purple, red, and white, so you are sure to find a shade or two to suit your garden. The foliage of these plants is a statement of their own, as the leaves can vary from bronze to purple and dark green.
Because of their New Guinea origin, these plants are not tolerant to frost and don’t hold up well in cool temperatures. You should plant them after the risk of frost.
Torenia, also known as the wishbone flower, has trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue, and white. It’s sure to attract the attention of passers-by.
I have found the Torenia to be a resilient plant that can stand the occasional neglectful watering. Its low-growing trailing habit is often used as a ground cover, but when grown in a hanging basket, the nettle-like leaves cascade over the side of the basket.
What makes this plant so attractive is its violet flowers that look similar to tiny pansies or violas. The two-toned flowers come in colors of blues and yellows, and the flower’s stamen is shaped like a wishbone which is where its name comes from.
When it comes to caring for this plant, they do well in a well-drained soil part shade and are pretty fuss-free! So, if you like the look of pansy-style flowers that can grow in a hanging basket, then the torenia is a perfect match.
Trailing petunias are one of the most popular plants for hanging baskets. Their prolific blooms look like a waterfall of flowers spilling over the edge. Not only are petunias really easy to care for, but they are also available in a vast number of colors, from soft pastels to vibrant deep shades of purples and even black!
This makes them great for adding instant color to an outdoor space. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid over-planting your basket with these. The leafy foliage tends to spread out and can soon become overcrowded. They grow quickly and are great if you are a little impatient! You can really get creative with these and plant different colors in one basket.
When grown in the right conditions, the trumpet-shaped blooms will grow in a huge mound and will be the envy of your neighbors!
These really are the go-to for instant color in the garden, and they love bright indirect light areas, so whether you have a sheltered pergola or want to add color to your porch, the trailing petunias will do the job!
With so many different plants to choose from, you are sure to find one that suits your outdoor area and light conditions.
Whether you prefer dainty cute delicate flowers in a mass like the snow in summer or big vibrant trumpet blooms like petunias, choosing the right ones is easy.
Just remember, when planting your baskets, don’t overcrowd them too much, as you want to give them space to grow. It can be tempting to start with as you want that instant picture-perfect basket, but the overall look is worth waiting for.
Be sure to head over to the planting 101 pages, where you can find some extra tidbits on everything from harvesting to sowing. We’ve got all the info you need to swot up on your gardening knowledge to be the best plant parent ever!