Whether hanging from your porch ceiling or next to your window, hanging planters add style, color and life to your decor.
Hanging planters are plant pots or baskets that are suspended rather than set on a surface. Hanging plants will help you make the most out of your vertical space, add depth and vibrancy to a room or deck, and keep plants away from curious cats and children. The best suited plants cascade over the side of the planter.
However, it’s important to remember that hanging plants are still plants. They need sunlight. They need to be watered. They need drainage holes. They need to be sheltered from the cold.
If you hang them in an unsuitable place or if you can’t reach them easily to care for them, even low maintenance plants will wither and die. Fake plants have all the decor benefits while happily existing neglected in a dark corner.
This article will go over the do’s and don’ts of hanging planters, clever and sturdy ways to hang both indoor and outdoor planters, and which plants work best in hanging planters.
Hanging planters provide many advantages:
- They add visual interest to a porch, patio, or room
- They keep plants out of reach of children and pets
- They give you more room for plants without taking up surface space
But hanging plants isn’t as simple as just hooking a plant over a curtain rod. Plants, the containers, and the moist soil can weigh a lot. You need to make sure that whatever you hang plants on can take the weight.
Sturdy and creative ways to hang planters indoors include:
- Screw in ceiling hooks with bolts and toggle wings (you can hang two small plants together from the same hook for a fuller look)
- Use s-hooks or macrame hangers on a tension rod (but check the amount of weight it will hold!)
- Use ceiling hooks to hang a shelf for the pots to sit on
- Attach a hook rail coat rack to the wall (the over-the-door hangers can also work, but you may not want to do this on frequently used doors)
- Repurpose a freestanding coat rack or a clothes rack as a plant hanger
- Attach baskets to the wall (using the studs for best support) to place nursery pots within
Houseplants also tend to be cold sensitive. If you have a moderate to harsh winter, the area between a windowpane and the curtain gets too cold, especially at night, so it’s best not to hang houseplants right inside the window during cooler weather.
Sturdy and creative ways to hang planters outdoors include:
- Screw ceiling hooks in your porch ceiling (make sure you can reach it to water!)
- Set a hanging basket plant stand on the ground
- Screw plant hangers onto fences or walls
- Use an s-hook to hang plants on deck or fence rails
- Hang from sturdy branches
- Use over-the-rail balcony planters or window boxes
Do Hanging Planters Need Drainage Holes?
Yes, hanging planters still need drainage holes. Drainage holes allow excess water to escape the container, which prevents overwatering and root rot. Once your plant gets root rot, there’s little you can do for it and little chance of recovery.
To water indoor hanging planters, take down the hanging planter and water it in the sink. Let it drain for 15 minutes, then hang it back up. That way, you won’t end up with excess water spilling on your floor.
Some outdoor hanging baskets have coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss lining. The excess water can easily exit through the coir. You will need to water frequently and/or use drought-tolerant plants as the soil will dry out quickly.
Air plants (Tillandsia spp.) don’t need drainage holes because they don’t grow in soil. They’re epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants, like tree branches. To water them, submerge them in water for half an hour, then put them back in their hanging terrarium.
You can also get away with no drainage holes with succulents so long as you’re misting rather than watering. Succulents love dry soil and suffer when the soil remains moist too long.
If your hanging planter doesn’t have a drainage hole, use it as a cachepot. Leave the plant in a nursery pot and put the nursery pot inside the cachepot.
You can easily remove the nursery plant from the cachepot for watering – and you won’t have the hassle of taking down and hanging up a pot every time you need to water.
If you’re hanging a cachepot outside, keep it under shelter so it doesn’t get rained on or elevate the nursery pot on some gravel so the plant isn’t sitting in water.
How Often Should I Water My Hanging Plants?
How often you water depends on how fast the soil dries out and how much water your plant needs:
- Plants outside or get direct sunlight indoors will need to be watered more often than plants kept indoors away from direct sunlight.
- Plants hanging under eaves will need to be watered more often than plants hanging unsheltered in the garden or on a fence.
- Plants that love moist soil will need to be watered more often than those that like to dry out in between watering.
- Indoor plants during the summer months need to be watered more often than the same plants during the winter.
- Hanging baskets that use a coir lining will need to be watered frequently, even twice daily, depending on the weather.
Until you have a good idea of how often your hanging plants need to be watered, check them daily by just touching the soil. If the top inch or two is dry, then water.
After a few weeks, you’ll have a good idea and can set up a watering schedule.
What Plants Look Good In A Hanging Planter?
The plants that look best in a hanging planter are cascading plants, but don’t let that stop you from hanging other types of plants. It matters whether you like the look.
Hanging multiple plants will have a bigger visual effect. Indoor hanging plants usually feature impressive foliage. Outdoor hanging plants usually feature long-lasting blooms.
Popular plants for indoor hanging planters include:
- Ferns, including the low maintenance Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and the humidity-loving Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum). True ferns are non-toxic, but not all plants with ‘fern’ in their name are true ferns so double-check!
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), with green or variegated long leaves and Spider plant babies that hang like a waterfall. Very forgiving plant, non-toxic.
- Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), with ivy-like vines that hang or climb. Extremely toxic, so keep out of reach of pets and children or skip this one altogether.
- Tradescantia (Tradescantia zebrina), a showstopper with vivid purple, silver and green leaves that spread through vines. Non-toxic, pet safe.
- Hoya Carnosa (Hoya Carnosa), with thick waxy leaves and climbing/hanging vines. Non-toxic.
- Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum), with a similar look but different care needs to Pothos. Toxic, keep away from children and pets or skip altogether.
- String Of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), a succulent with pearl-shaped leaves on hanging stems. Toxic, not pet safe.
- Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum), a succulent with close, chunky leaves on a thick stem that will hang over the side of pots. Non-toxic, but easily broken if cats play with it.
- Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera), branching stick-like stems that hang over the side of the pot. Non-toxic.
Popular plants for outdoor hanging planters include:
- Petunia (Petunia spp.), with voluminous flowers that will flow over the planter. ‘Supertunia Vista’ can trail up to 4 feet, is heat-tolerant and doesn’t need deadheading. It’s used everywhere for a reason.
- Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis), with five-petaled gradient purple leaves.
- Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), with detailed green leaves that appreciate part shade. Cut them back and bring them inside during the winter to keep them for years to come.
- Blue Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), with delicate lavender flowers. Appreciates consistent moisture and afternoon shade.
- Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum), with an explosion of small red flowers that are used to repel flies during the summer.
- Strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa), with big leaves, small white flowers, and actual strawberries. The flowers are too small for much visual impact, but nothing beats strawberries picked off the vine.
- Oxalis Triangularis (Oxalis triangularis), with three-leaved purple leaves that will open up during the day and close at night. Extremely toxic to cats and dogs.
- Sweet Alyssum (Alyssum maritimum/Lobularia maritima), with profusions of tiny white blooms that bees and butterflies love. Pick a cultivar that won’t go to seed, or you’ll end up with alyssum growing all over your yard.
What Hanging Plants Last The Longest?
What do we mean when we ask which hanging plants last the longest? This could be a question of annual versus perennial, but usually we’re wondering what plants are going to bloom in our outdoor hanging baskets throughout the summer into the fall?
Horticulturist Shelley Levis notes that often when you buy pre-planted hanging baskets in the spring, they’ve likely been growing since the winter so that they’re big and bold enough to catch your eye. They struggle when the summer heat kicks in.
Here, you can do as she does: have two sets of hanging baskets. You can buy the hanging baskets in the spring, and then plant up a second set of hanging baskets with seedlings. By the time the first set looks ragged, the second set will have filled in and will last through fall.
Also, not all cultivars within a flower species are the same. Look for flower varieties that have improved heat and drought tolerance and don’t require deadheading.
Some popular outdoor hanging plants are actually perennials, and so long as you can properly overwinter them, they’ll come back in the spring. Boston Ferns and succulents are perennials, and so are Dianthus, Fuschia, Geranium, Petunias, and Viola.
Strawberry plants can last up to six years, although they’ll only be at their peak productiveness for 2 or 3 years. To get the most out of your store-bought hanging basket, cut them back to bring inside during harsh winters. If you have mild winters, then you can wrap up the basket in canvas and shelter them in an unheated garage or shed.
Many flowering hanging plants benefit from deadheading. A flower’s job is to go to seed, and if it succeeds, the plant will stop blooming. Removing spent flowers will encourage them to keep producing flowers.
Properly cared for, indoor houseplants should last for years. They are perennials, after all.
How Many Plants Should You Put In A Hanging Basket?
When planting outdoor hanging baskets, the general rule of thumb is to use one plant per 2 inches of the basket’s diameter. So, if you have a 10 inch hanging basket, you’d plant 5 plants. If you have a 12 inch hanging basket, you’d plant 6 plants.
If a plant is a compact grower, you may be able to fit more in one planter (up to 1 plant per 1 inch of diameter).
Stick with this rule or even be cautious with strong-growing plants like Fuchsias, Geraniums, Trailing Petunias, and Verbena.
If you’re not sure, think about the growing habit of the plant. Does the plant spread out or does the plant grow compactly? Plant less densely for plants that spread and plant more densely for plants that grow compactly.
For indoor plants, it’s best to keep one plant per pot. When the plant outgrows the pot, you can easily repot it in a bigger pot. You can also easily move an individual plant to a better location. If you have more than one plant in a pot, both tasks become harder. You can always hang more planters to add fullness.
Hanging planters are a great way to save space while still adding greenery and vibrancy to an indoor or outdoor space. Just remember to only hang them from things that can take the weight, and care for them as you would any countertop plant.
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