Growing plants and flowers in hanging baskets can brighten up an area and create more structure to the garden by lifting plants up off the ground.
When you are a plant addict like I am, being able to hang plants up in baskets not only creates interest in the backyard, but also makes extra special areas for more plants when all the ground and patio planters are full.
Using hanging baskets in the shade can be a huge advantage. We have seen it before, that once beautiful hanging basket that was lush and colorful that has been overexposed to the sun, wind, and weather. Shade can provide protection and help hanging baskets retain moisture.
Hanging baskets thrive in the shade for good reason.
Hanging baskets in the shade gives many kinds of plants and flowers a fighting chance of retaining much needed moisture. A great way to take advantage of this is to explore using living baskets such as baskets made of moss. These are gorgeous and envelope your hanging basket plants in a wonderfully rich, moist backdrop.
Plants that thrive in shade often also require excellent drainage. This means they can be susceptible to problems such as root rot, fungi, and mildews. These problems can occur when planted in poor-draining soils. Putting them up in the air can make sure they get the air circulation and drainage they need.
Shaded areas may provide extra protection from wind and weather that can cause havoc on hanging baskets, drying them out, and damaging precious flowers and foliage.
It is true, shade-loving plants may come with their own set of challenges, but I can promise you; it is worth the challenge!
Another great perk to many shade loving plants and flowers is their unique leaf shapes, colors, and bright, glowing, almost iridescent flowers.
Hanging Baskets in the Shade: Best Practices
Your hanging plants and flowers are completely dependent on you. As the plants are far from the ground and may be exposed to dry, windy conditions, providing moisture-retaining soil, extra nutrition, and consistent water are of the upmost importance.
Plants growing in the ground might be able to source water from the surrounding area but hanging basket plants are completely dependent on us. We must always be kind, and ensure they have everything they need.
A quick note on shade
In areas of high humidity, a “shade plant” may tolerate full sun. Similarly, the same plant in dry conditions may become a shade-only plant. Finding ways to create extra humidity by using tools such as automatic irrigation can provide the extra moisture that some of the following plants may love, particularly if they are exposed to more than partial sun and/or dry and windy conditions.
8 best plants and flowers for hanging baskets in the shade.
1. Fuchsia (Fuchsia ‘Tom Thumb’)
Stand Out Feature: Prolific, tear-drop shaped, vibrant fuchsia pink and purple flowers.
Description: Tom Thumb Fuchsia is the classic compact weeping shrub that is perfect for hanging baskets. The pendulous form is covered in unique blooms from late spring to frost. Fuchsia can be used as a stand alone focal point or combined with other shade-loving plants. Keep in mind, there are thousands of fuchsia cultivars to consider with diverse forms, sizes, shapes, and flower colors and styles.
Hardiness: Zone 8, 9, and 10.
Height and Spread: 2 1/2 feet tall by 2 1/2 feet wide.
Care: Moist, warm conditions protected from wind in shade or dappled sunlight. Fuchsias do not like being dried out or direct, hot sunlight.
2. Western Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Formosa)
Stand Out Feature: Gorgeous pink/red, heart-shaped flowers dangling in rows from pendulous branches.
Description: The lacy foliage makes a fine backdrop to the arching stems from which heart-shaped blooms dangle for several weeks in late spring to early summer.
Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8.
Height and Spread: 6 to 12 inches tall and 1 to 3 feet wide.
Care: Partial shade to dappled sunlight. Rich, high-quality potting soil. Western bleeding heart is of the more drought-tolerant bleeding heart cultivars, making it a safe choice for hanging in a basket. Spring is its time to shine so group it with other plants that can take over the show through summer and into autumn.
3. Begonia (Begonia ‘Pendula White’)
Stand Out Feature: Clusters of large pendulous fragrant white flowers.
Description: Bring a bright white glow into the shade with this gorgeous white flowering showstopper. Flowers bloom from July to first frost with blossoms arising in clusters and hanging above deep green, waxy leaves.
Hardiness: Zone 11. Not frost hardy. Bulbs can be lifted and stored to replant the following year.
Height and Spread: 10 to 14 inches tall and wide.
Care: Plant in rich, high-quality potting soil and keep moist. Protect from hot sun and wind.
4. Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
Stand Out Feature: Delicate trailing annual with fan-shaped flowers available in many shades of blue.
Description: A prolific bloomer April through June with more blooms in the autumn. This compact annual is an excellent companion plant in the hanging basket and can fill in space while other summer and fall performing plants grow to their full size.
Hardiness: Zone 10 to 11.
Height and Spread: 6 to 10 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide.
Care: Loves rich, moist, organic soils. Lobelia may give an extra fall bloom if it is cut back after its spring show.
5. Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)
Stand Out Feature: Incredible vibrant color choices.
Description: Small, compact plants of glossy green foliage covered in a plethora of vibrant flowers in ranges of pink, purple, lilac, red, orange, rose, white, and bicolors. They are continuous bloomers with a spectacular bright show from June to frost.
Hardiness: A tender perennial. Zone 10 to 11.
Height and Spread: 6 to 24 inches tall and wide.
Care: Generally low maintenance. Loves nutrient-rich soil and being consistently moist. Cutting back young plants will encourage bushier plants with more flowers.
6. Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens)
Stand Out Feature: Unusual, sometimes spotted, monkey-face, or snapdragon-like flower.
Description: Blooming from June to September in a range of colors, often in yellows, oranges and reds but can be found in lilac and purple colors also. Some varieties are upright, but some are trailing varieties perfect for hanging baskets.
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9.
Height and Spread: They grow 1 to 3 feet in height and spread up to a foot wide.
Care: Monkey flowers are wildflowers native to North America and found in bog-type environments. They will thrive in moist soil in the shade and do not like to dry out.
7. Trailing Bacopa ‘Giant Snowflake’ (Sutera cordata)
Stand Out Feature: Overflowing trailing habit.
Description: The ultimate shade hanging basket companion. The giant white blooms begin in spring and keep coming on a beautiful backdrop of its own blue/green foliage.
Hardiness: Zones 9, 10, and 11.
Height and Spread: Grows under 6 inches high but spreads 2 to 4 feet.
Care: Loves extra nutrition due to its vigorous nature and prolific, long bloom time. No need to deadhead but trim any damaged stems.
8. Coleus ‘Red Trailing Queen’ (Coleus scutellarioides)
Stand Out Feature: Dramatic bicolor foliage with contrasting borders and centers.
Description: Compact plants that are all about their foliage. Heart-shaped leaves are velvety. They are rose burgundy with white to green margins with a small light rose center. There are many color and shape varieties of coleus to choose from. This is just one example of an excellent shade-loving plant that makes an outstanding softened backdrop or spectacular center piece on its own.
Hardiness: Zone 11
Height and Spread: 1 to 1 ½ feet tall, spreading 1 to 3 feet.
Care: Plant in rich, moisture-retaining soil. Keep coleus evenly moist, pinching back young plants to encourage compact lush habit. Flower stalks can be trimmed to retain focus on the gorgeous foliage.
What are you putting in your basket?
Finding shade-loving plants that thrive in hanging baskets might seem like a challenge at first. The planning, planting, and maintaining of hanging baskets is ultimately a fulfilling experience in and of itself. Exploring the amazing options available and learning the special tricks to helping shade plants thrive in hanging baskets can create even more beautiful spaces in the backyard.