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15 of the Best Trailing Plants

Eye-catching plants that cascade over walls, tubs and baskets

By Hannah Miller at DIY Gardening

Bring your tubs, baskets and walls to life this year by choosing from our selection of cascading and trailing plants.

Some are better suited to wall tops while others trail beautifully from tubs and baskets.

All 15 trailing plants were handpicked by Hannah Miller, our expert author here at DIY Gardening.

1) Trailing Aubrieta

Trailing aubrieta
Closeup of purple aubrieta flower

Aubrieta is the “go-to” plant for rockeries where it cascades majestically over large boulders; it can also trail 60cm+ over the top and down the front of garden walls – it can even grow from cracks and gaps (see photo).

Easy to maintain and producing hundreds of delightful small blooms from March through to May, aubrieta is perfect for rambling over and down walls, rocks and boulders in the spring.

Key points: Full hardy in the UK and prefers a sunny spot. Easy to grow and maintain, only requiring a yearly prune after flowering. There’s no need to worry about water or fertiliser as once established, aubrieta looks after itself.

Recommended variety: Aubrieta Purple Cascade.

Best for: Rockeries, over rocks, wall crevices, over edges.

2) Phlox as a Trailing Plant

Creeping and trailing phlo
Purple creeping phlox

Phlox is often regarded as a creeper but also looks stunning when it drapes over the edges of pots and walls where it flows as well as any trailing plant.

Expect phlox to spread by up to 60cm and in the spring will produce hundreds of star-shaped blooms.

This low-growing perennial evergreen is drought tolerant and easy to maintain, making it perfect for growing in wall crevices.

Key points: Full hardy in the UK and prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Prune after flowering to keep phlox in check and to prevent the stems from becoming bare and leggy. Phlox is low growing but spreads up to 60cm, making it perfect for hanging over low walls, edgings, rocks, boulders and tubs.

Recommended variety: Phlox ‘McDaniels Cushion’.

Best for: Wall crevices, over the edges of tubs and draping over rocks.

3) Lobelia

Purple lobelia with butterfly
Light purple lobelia bush

Lobelia produces masses of small purple or blue blooms from June through to September and with a spread of around 35cm, it’s the perfect choice for summer hanging baskets, tubs and troughs where it can spill over the edges.

The best lobelias for a cascading effect are annuals and they need a sunny spot with reliably moist soil. Prune once in the summer to encourage new growth.

Key points: Best grown as an annual in moisture retentive compost either in a basket, pot or trough where it can hang over the edges. 

Feeding tip: Feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser every two weeks until early summer as this will produce long trails, then switch to a low-nitrogen feed to encourage more numerous blooms.

Recommended variety: Lobelia erinus “Sapphire” (aka trailing lobelia)

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs, troughs and for draping over low walls and garden edgings.

4) Ivy Geranium

Pink ivy geranium
Close up of ivy geranium flowers

Geraniums come in several forms, from the bushy hardy geranium to the short-lived bedding plant pelargonium.

Ivy geranium is the latter but has a trailing habit and sits beautifully in baskets, over the edges of rubs and along the top of small walls.

Key points: Often grown as an annual in the UK and US, it prefers full sun and has a scrambling habit but will trail if grown over an edge. This prolific bloomer produces an avalanche of colour from June to October will trail around 70cm.

Feeding tip: Feed regularly during the growing season, as you would other annuals.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs, troughs, draping over low walls, retaining walls.

5) Trailing Plant “Bacopa”

Trailing bacopa over the edge of a pot
Bacopa in a pot

This trailing bacopa plant is the perfect companion and is often used to hang over the edges of tubs where the hundreds of small daisy-like blooms compliment, but do not distract from the other plants in the pot.

Bacopa can also be used as a groundcover along the edges of paths where it rambles by up to 30cm.

Key points: A perennial that’s often grown as an annual in the UK and cooler parts of the US. Low growing with a rambling habit, bacopa will trail by about 30cm, just enough to cover the sides of pots, troughs and window boxes. 

Feeding tip: Keep the soil reliably moist; feed monthly if grown in baskets and small pots. Mulch if possible to prevent the ground from drying out.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs, troughs and for path edgings.

6) Trailing Verbena Plant

A large cluster of verbena flowers
Puplr verbena on the edge of a pot

A popular hanging basket choice, verbena produces a waterfall of colourful blooms in small clusters that could trail by over a metre.

Trailing verbena will also scramble over the ground so it can be planted next to paths and patios.

Other varieties, such as the Purpletop, are more upright with a more limited spread.

Key points: A short-lived perennial that’s often grown as an annual for baskets.

Feeding tip: Feed regularly during the growing season and keep the soil reliably moist.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs, troughs and for hanging over walls.

7) Busy Lizzies

Busy Lizzies and a Pelargonium in a trough
Purple and pink Busy Lizzie flowers

Busy lizzies are a reliable summer flowering annual that’s guaranteed to put an impressive show in full sun or shade.

While busy lizzies will generally grow to a rounded shape, they do spread to around 35cm and like to fill in space, making them perfect for hanging baskets and tubs where their foliage and blooms can gently hang over the edges.

Key points: A half hardy annual that produces a vigorous display of blooms from June until the temperature drops in October.

Feeding tip: Feed regularly during the growing season and keep the soil reliably moist.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs and troughs.

8) Fuschias

Pink fuchsia flowers
Fuchsias in red and purple

Fuchsias are one of the best trailing plants and they produce dozens of pendant-shaped blooms in pink, red and purple against green leafy foliage, from mid-summer through to the first frosts.

Also suitable for pots and troughs and in borders, trailing fuchsias are versatile and easy to grow and require very little attention once established.

Key points: Often grown as an annual but hardy fuchsias can come back year after year reliably. Expect a spread of around 45cm.

Feeding tip: Feed regularly during the growing season and keep the soil reliably moist. Grow in full sun or part shade/dappled shade and deadhead weekly to encourage more blooms.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs and troughs.

9) Trailing Petunias

Trailing petunias from hanging basket
Petunias of several colours in a hanging basket

No list of hanging plants would be complete without a mention of trailing petunias which are flamboyant, showy and unmistakable.

Perfect for baskets where their long trails can reach 50cm, petunias produce masses of bold, bright blooms all through the summer.

Key points: A popular annual that thrives in tubs and hanging baskets. Petunias are easy to maintain but by applying regular doses of fertiliser, you’ll be rewarded with an explosion of colour.

Growing tip: Water regularly but don’t allow the feet to sit in waterlogged soil. Some varieties will benefit from regular deadheading.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs and troughs.

10) Calibrachoa (Million Bells)

Calibrachoa Million Bells
Yellow Million Bells

Calibrachoa, also known as “million bells”, is native to South America and is a prolific bloomer from spring until the first frosts.

This less well-known annual produces dozens and sometimes hundreds of 2-3cm trumpet-like blooms that look almost identical to those on petunias.

The foliage is dark green, firmer and smaller but make no mistake, this is a free-flowering, showy plant that reaches up to 15cm in height and can produce a trail down 50cm.

Key points: Less well known than petunias but equally impressive, this perennial should be grown as an annual in milder climates. Calibrachoa performs best in a bright spot that’s sheltered from the wind. Water and feed regularly during the growing season.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs and troughs. Over walls.

11) Creeping Jenny

Creeping jenny cascading down the side of a pot
Creeping jenny trailing

Creeping jenny produces long stems holding lobe-like gold and green leaves, and as a hardy perennial, it will keep its leaves in all but the harshest of winters.

While usually grown for its foliage and trailing or crawling habit, it does display bright yellow flowers in the summer.

Grow in pots or along the top of retaining walls where it can flow over the edges.

Key points: Being native to the UK, creeping jenny dislikes overly hot conditions and prefers moist soil. Grow in full sun or partial shade. Creeping jenny can be invasive if grown in beds or near lawns.

Best for: Hanging baskets, tubs, troughs, raised beds and down slopes and retaining walls.

12) Trailing Ivy

Ivy trailing down the side of a pot
Ivy growing along a wall

Ivy can grow just about anywhere, along walls, down the side of pots, trailing below hanging baskets and even along the ground.

The ultimate background plant, ivy is perfect for covering unsightly parts of the garden and will thrive in full sun, shade and various soil types and temperatures.

Why not add some ivy to the edges of your summer pots? Or grow it down a wall?

Key points: Easy to grow and isn’t bothered by pests or diseases but does require pruning to keep it in check.

Best for: A versatile plant that grows just about anywhere.

13) Nasturtium

Nasturtium growing up a fence
Nasturtium trailing down a container

Nasturtium produces vibrant flowers in orange, red, yellow, pink and cream, and they compliment the bright green foliage.

Choose from either bushy, dwarf or climbing varieties with the climbers most suitable for gaining fences and for rambling over the ground, while the bushy versions look best in hanging baskets and pots.

Key points: Nasturtiums are annuals and can be grown very easily from seeds sowed in the same spot you wish to grow them. All parts of the nasturtium plant can be eaten, and they make an excellent addition to salads.

Best for: Growing up walls and fences (climbers) draping over the edges of pots or along the ground (bushy varieties).

14) Dichondra Argentea “Silver Falls”

Dichondra 'Silver_Falls' trailing perennial

Dichondra ‘Silver_Falls’ by © Derek Ramsey taken at Chanticleer Garden. Img Licence:  CC By 3.0

Dichondra "silver falls"

Dichondra “silver falls” is a herbaceous perennial that’s usually grown as an annual and is a perfect trailing plant for hanging baskets and draping over and down walls.

You’ll be rewarded with hundreds of heart and kidney-shaped leaves and in the summer, small white flowers.

Key points: Dichondra “silver falls” will grow vertically by 10cm (4″) but can trail up to an impressive 1.2m (4 feet). Often grown as an annual but can be overwintered and kept for several years.

Best for: Hanging baskets, over walls, courtyards, city gardens, cottage gardens.

15) Trailing Heucherella “Redstone Falls”

Heuchera

Copper and pink leaves adorn the vigorous trailing stems of this underused heuchera/tiarella hybrid – the first known trailing variety.

Grow in hanging baskets, containers and window boxes where the trails will spill over the edges by up to 40cm.

Key points: A stunning but rarely seen perennial with copper colours on display in the autumn which compliment small white panicles in the summer months.

Best for: Hanging baskets, over walls, courtyards, city gardens, cottage gardens. Also plant en masse for ground cover.

Make a Statement With These Stunning Hanging Baskets

Whatever trailing plants you choose, why not make them stand out by choosing a unique and custom made hanging basket?

In 2022, we trawled the internet to find the most beautiful hanging basket brackets, go check them out:

Hanging basket brackets

Discover More Plant Collections:

How to create stunning winter hanging baskets
Plants for lazy gardeners
North facing garden plants
Winter plants

More From Hannah Miller:

This guide to the best trailing plants was created by Hannah Miller and was last updated in March 2022.

Hannah is a keen amateur gardener, mother and a former NHS administrator.

She enjoys gardening as much as she cares about the environment and likes to share her knowledge with others.

Hannah is a keen photographer, and you’ll find hundreds of her photos throughout this site. She also contributes to our blog; check out her latest posts here.

Author Hannah Miller

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This guide to the best trailing plants was published by DIY Gardening

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