Everyone has shady outdoor areas where a pop of color is needed – and what better way to bring in the color than with a hanging basket of live plants. A covered porch, patio, pergola, or other structure that produces shade can still be home to plants that develop colorful, interesting foliage and/or colorful blooms.
Hanging baskets don’t take up landspace and can be suspended to bring beauty to your outdoor surroundings. If you have a shady location and wonder what will grow in it, check out these 15 shade loving plants that are ideal for growing in hanging baskets.
(Note: to make a better looking hanging basket, try combining a few plants with an upright growth habit, like coleus, with 3 trailing plants, like fuchsia.)
Begonias (Begonia L.) are classic flowers that grow in sun or shade. They thrive in rich, loose, moist soil but are subject to root rot if the soil does not drain well.
Begonias bloom all summer and come in a wide range of bloom colors, sizes, and growing habits.
Some good varieties for hanging baskets include:
- Angel Wing Begonias
- Waterfall Enchanto Orange Begonias
- Orange Cascade Begonia
This trailing plant will develop runners that will be 3-4 feet long when mature. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) produces tiny white or lavender blooms during the summer.
The plant is easy to dry out and must be watered daily during the summer. If allowed to dry out it will stop blooming and will take almost one month to recover and resume flower production.
These tropical plants can not tolerate cool temperatures but they love shady locations. Coleus (Coleus scutellarioides) are colorful annuals that are easy to grow in hanging baskets.
Foliage colors range in combinations of green, yellow, pink, red, and maroon. The leaf sizes vary and so does the plant size. The plant has an upright growing habit and develops a flower spike in mid-summer.
The top of the plant can be pinched out to force more lateral leaf development. The flower spike can also be pinched out to force the coleus to send energy into producing more leaves instead of flowers.
Keep soil moist but not soggy at all times.
4. Creeping Jenny
This shade loving perennial plant is in the primrose family and is sometimes called Moneywort or Twopenny grass. Creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a fast growing plant that thrives in shady areas and moist soil.
The plant has small round, gold-tinted leaves that cover the trailing stems. Bright yellow blooms will appear on the plant during the summer.
Creeping jenny will grow stems that are 2-feet long in just one season. Anywhere the stems touch soil a new root will develop. That section of the plant can be cut off and transplanted to create a new Creeping jenny plant.
This flowering annual produces bi-colored hanging flowers that will create an eye-catching basket display.
Fuchsia (Fuchsia) is a deciduous perennial in tropical climates, a tender perennial in climates with mild winters, but in most parts of the country it’s treated as an annual.
When grown in a hanging basket outdoors in a shady location during the summer, the plant can be overwintered indoors in a warm location then placed back outdoors the following spring.
Fuchsia develops 3-feet long blooming vines that drape over the side of the basket.
Nice varieties for hanging baskets include:
- Swingtime Fuchsia
- Fuchsia ‘Dollar Princess’
- Fuchsia ‘Seventh Heaven’
Also known as Coral Bells, heuchera (Heuchera) is a shade loving perennial plant with interesting foliage. The colorful leaves have scalloped edges and dark interior veins.
In mid-summer the plant will send up tall spikes of flowers that have bloom colors that contrast with the leaf colors. Remove the spent flower spikes to encourage more flowers to develop.
Heuchera is a low-growing, trailing plant that spreads on its own. Divide and re-pot the plant every 3-4 years.
Good varieties for hanging baskets include:
- Berry Smoothie
- Peppermint Spice
- Midnight Rose
Honestly, though, they all look so good that it’s hard to choose.
Hellebores (Helleborus) are one of the few plants that thrive in shade and produce colorful blooms.
Also known as the Lenten rose or Christmas rose, the plant will bloom for months after the weather turns cold in the winter.
Hellebores are evergreen perennials, reach a mature height of 6-8 inches and have an upright growth pattern. Plant several in a hanging basket for winter floral color and year-round greenery.
Also known as Plantain lilies, hosta (Hosta) is a perennial that comes in many varieties and thrives in the shade.
The plant forms a 10-inch tall mound of large leaves that may be pale green, dark green, or variegated. Hostas send up tall spikes of tiny blooms in mid-summer.
Keep soil moist and divide plants every 3-5 years.
Great varieties for hanging baskets include:
- Curly Fries
- Gold Standard
- Magic Island
A shade garden favorite, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) are low growing flowering annuals that thrive in shady locations.
The cheerful and colorful blooms will brighten up any dark shady location and are ideal for growing in a hanging basket.
Impatiens need plenty of water and plant food. Give plants at least 2-inches of water each week, more during the summer months. Feed with water-soluble plant food once a month during the active growing season.
The plants create a low mound of colorful blooms from spring through the end of summer.
10. Lady Fern
This delicate-looking fern thrives in shade and moist soil. Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina) will produce fronds that are 3-feet long and cascade over the side of a hanging basket. Some fronds will remain shorter and stand upright in the center to give the hanging planter a very full look.
Also known as Deadnettle is a flowering perennial that develops silver foliage and white or purple blooms during the summer.
This plant will reach 8-inches tall and 20-inches wide by the end of the summer and create an attractive trailing plant.
12. Japanese Spurge
This is a tough little plant that thrives in shade and will tolerate almost any environmental condition. It’s an easy-care plant for a hanging basket and only needs watering once a week and fed once a year in spring.
Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) is a member of the boxwood family and an evergreen perennial. The plant will reach a mature size of 12-inches wide and 6-inches tall and will form a compact mound.
The plant has dark green, leathery leaves that remain on the plant year-round and it produces tiny white flowers in the spring.
This fragrant herb is often thought of as a sun-loving plant but it thrives in shady locations too.
Rosemary stems grow 12-20 inches tall and will cascade over the sides of a hanging basket.
Regular pruning is required to keep it from getting too big. Harvest the fragrant stems and leaves for use in recipes.
Many low growing succulents, like Hen and Chicks, thrive in the shade and dry, hot weather.
They will quickly fill up a hanging basket, and some varieties, like the Burros tail, will spill out over the sides.
Water succulents sparingly and bring indoors during the winter.
Also known as periwinkle, vinca (Catharanthus roseus) thrives in the heat of summer and shady locations.
The plant resembles impatiens but it also does well in sunny locations and under drought conditions and impatiens will not.
Vinca needs sandy soil and will develop 18-inch long stems that trail over the sides of a hanging basket. The plant is toxic to cats, dogs, and children, so a hanging basket placed out of reach is the best way to grow these plants.
Vinca blooms colors include white, pink, red, and mauve.