If Your Floor Space Is Maxed Out, Look to the Best Hanging Plants
For beginner growers and green thumb enthusiasts alike.
Published Mar 2, 2022 1:09 PM
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Running out of floor space for your little plant friends? We feel your lack-of-square-footage pain, but that doesn’t mean you have to pare down your indoor jungle. Simply look up and take advantage of your vertical space (which is often overlooked)—and opt for hanging plants instead.
But not all plants are meant to be hung. The best ones for hanging baskets and pots are relatively small, with vines that trail so they cascade down the side of the planter. Plus the containers should have a sturdy hanger. “Keep in mind light, water, humidity, and environment, just like you would for a tabletop or floor plant,” says Erin Marino, plant expert and editorial lead at The Sill No need to spend an afternoon at a nursery, though; read on for our top picks of the eight best hanging plants you can buy from the comfort of your couch.
- Best easy growing: Philodendron
- Best color variegation: Tradescantia Nanouk
- Best outdoor: Kangaroo Fern
- Best unique shape: Ric Rac Cactus
- Best flowering: Lipstick Plant
- Best for propagating: Spider Plant
- Best low-maintenance: Hindu Rope Plant
- Best for sunny spots: String of Hearts Trailing Succulent
Best Easy Growing: Philodendron
Average life span: 20-plus years | Pot and hanger: Grower pot | Required sun: Bright indirect or low light | Watering schedule: Every one to two weeks
What we like:
- Grows fairly fast (so satisfying)
- Takes a lot of neglect to kill a philodendron
- Tolerant of low-light situations
- Keep your curious cats and dogs away—philodendrons are toxic to pets
Why we chose it: A favorite for beginners and longtime gardeners alike.
For the not-so-green thumbs among us, add a philodendron to the top of your to-buy list. They grow quickly—up to 4 inches a week in the spring and summer—making them an obvious choice to hang in any room. The sweetheart-shaped leaves can acclimate to just about any climate, but they prefer bright, indirect light. If you forget a watering session here or there, don’t worry. Your philodendron will forgive you.
Best Color Variegation: Tradescantia Nanouk
Average life span: 10 to 20 years | Pot and hanger: Grower pot | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Weekly
What we like:
- Bright pink and green leaves bring a punch of color to any space
- Grows star-shaped flowers from spring through fall
- Foliage cascades when it grows long enough
- Be careful not to overwater
- Toxic to pets
Why we chose it: What’s pink and green and perfect for a hanging planter?
We’d say Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she designed the tradescantia nanouk, but in reality scientists in the Netherlands did. That’s where this relatively new plant was cross-pollinated from two other tradescantia seedlings in 2012. When the vibrant leaves, which are striped with pinkish purple, are long enough, the foliage cascades, making it a perfect match for a hanging planter. (May we suggest a pink pot?) Plus under perfect conditions, it will grow star-shaped flowers that bloom from spring through fall.
Best Outdoor: Kangaroo Fern
Average life span: Three to five years | Pot and hanger: Eco pot, pot and saucer | Required sun: Low to bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Weekly
What we like:
- Tough, resilient leaves
- Can thrive indoors or outdoors
- Prefers a humid environment
Why we chose it: These wild leaves bring jungle vibes to your indoor (or outdoor) space.
Ferns have gotten a bad rap over the years, and the general consensus seems to be that they’re boring, but there’s nothing dull about this lively kangaroo fern, which in its natural Australian habitat would use its long, fuzzy roots to spread across the forest floor. It’s one of the best indoor hanging plants, but this also makes it a good fit to hang on your patio, where its mass of curly, kinky leaves will bring life to your outdoor space. Just remember to mimic its native humid environment by misting it often.
Best Unique Shape: Ric Rac Cactus
Average life span: 10 to 20 years | Pot and hanger: Variety to choose from | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Every one to two weeks
What we like:
- Ultra-easy to care for
- Eye-catching fishbone-shaped trailing stems
- Sensitive to overwatering
Why we chose it: Find us someone who isn’t charmed by this cactus’s charming zigzag shape.
It’s hard not to love a ric rac cactus. Not only are they extremely easy to care for, they’re pet friendly and trail beautifully over the edge of a hanging planter. Bonus: Occasionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of an orchid, which blooms from the zigzag edges for one night only before withering come morning. Keep in mind that ric racs are cacti, so when in doubt, lean toward underwatering instead of overwatering, especially during the winter months.
Best Flowering: Lipstick Plant
Average life span: Three to five years | Pot and hanger: Ceramic, eco, or grower pot | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Every one to two weeks
What we like:
- Flowers look like tubes of lipstick
- Trails beautifully
- Can flower throughout the year
- Requires a fair amount of indirect sun to be able to bloom, but direct sun will scorch its leaves
- Average humidity is adequate, though it’ll grow faster in humid conditions
Why we chose it: A trailing plant that loves red lipstick as much as we do.
While we’re suckers for the sweet vines of a lipstick plant, we love its tubular red flowers that look like—you guessed it—red lipstick even more. To help it bloom, place the plant in a bright, sunny spot, then enjoy the red-lipped blooms throughout the year. Bonus: If you plant it outdoors, you’ll likely attract hummingbirds, coming to feast on the flowers’ nectar.
Best for Propagating: Spider Plant
Average life span: Indefinite | Pot and hanger: Ceramic or clay pot with macramé or leather hanger | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Weekly
What we like:
- Extremely low-maintenance
- Constantly creates babies that can be propagated
- Can live 50-plus years if properly cared for
- Likes high humidity, but can adapt to other conditions
- Will need to occasionally be trimmed if you don’t like the look of the babies
Why we chose it: Spider plants are easy to grow and even easier to care for.
Think you’re doomed to kill every houseplant? Try spider plants; they’re pretty much foolproof. Their wild mane makes them a charming addition to any room—kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, you name it—and a single spider plant will consistently grow babies that can be left as is, pruned, or propagated into more hanging plants.
Best Low-Maintenance: Hindu Rope Plant
Average life span: Decades | Pot and hanger: Grower pot | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Every two weeks
What we like:
- Waxy, wavy vines are interesting and unexpected
- Occasionally blooms pink star-shaped flower clusters
- Slow grower
- Drainage is a must
Why we chose it: The cool, twisty look is sure to turn heads.
Chances are this Hindu rope plant will be the talk of your next dinner party, whether your friends are plant obsessives or not. Its wavy, waxy leaves grow in a twisted vine–like fashion and cascade beautifully in a hanging planter. Place it in bright, indirect light, then let it do its thing.
Best for Sunny Spots: String of Hearts Trailing Succulent
Average life span: Up to 25 years | Pot and hanger: White hanging planter | Required sun: Bright, indirect light | Watering schedule: Every one to two weeks
What we like:
- Can grow up to 9 feet long
- Produces small purple flowers
- Easily propagated
- Requires a sunny spot
Why we chose it: A sweet, trailing semi-succulent ideal for small spaces.
If your home is drenched in bright, indirect light (lucky you!), hang a string of hearts, a beautifully tangled mess of vines with tiny heart-shaped leaves. Enjoy its petite purple flowers in the spring and summer, then let it rest in the winter as it goes dormant. When hung in the right light, the plant can grow anywhere from 3 to 9 feet long, and the leaves will develop a deeper coloration.
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In order for your hanging plant to survive—and, hopefully, thrive—you must be aware of its most basic needs: sunlight and water. That’s why we selected hearty, generally foolproof plants that can adapt to different sunlight situations and don’t need a helicopter plant parent to water it too often. (Who has time for that?) The plants we chose are not only beautiful and colorful, they’re interesting in shape, adding to the design of any space.
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Types of Hanging Plants
Trailing plants—plants that grow “down”—are ideal to hang, since hanging planters provide 360 degrees of space for cascading foliage and vines. Plants that grow upward, like a snake plant? Not so much. “Plants that have shallow or compact root systems also tend to do well in hanging planters, given the space constraints of the planters or pots,” says Marino.
Container Types and Sizes
When you buy a plant online, the container it comes in can range from a simple grower pot to a sleek ceramic one, some with hanging options and others without. Be aware of which one you’re purchasing and if you want (or need) to buy a hanging planter separately. Hanging planters tend to be on the smaller side, and for good reason: “They can’t be too heavy or they’d be difficult to hang safely,” says Marino.
Only you and your plants know if you’re a regimented waterer or not. If you tend to forget, opt for a plant that will forgive you. In general, the options we chose need to be watered every week or two, and less often in the winter. When in doubt, check that the top 2 inches of soil are dry before watering again.
Not all of us are blessed with hours of direct sunlight flooding our homes. That’s why we included hearty, adaptable plants that will be perfectly happy with low or medium indirect light. Before purchasing, be sure you know your plants’ sunlight needs and whether your space can fulfill them.
For quick satisfaction, shop for plants that are quick growers, like a pothos or philodendron. Keep in mind that most plants go dormant in the winter and much of their growth period will occur in the spring and summer.
In general, plants should be repotted every 12 to 18 months, though that varies from plant to plant. If your plant’s soil is drying out faster than usual or its roots are wrapped tightly in the pot, those are telltale signs it’s time to repot. If possible, try to repot in the spring.
Q: What is the easiest hanging plant to grow?
Marino recommends starting your hanging plant journey with a pothos or a philodendron. “Both are incredibly easy to care for, can tolerate lower light levels, and grow quickly,” she says. If you already own more than your fair share of pothos, she also loves silver satin, which can be just as hearty and looks very similar to a pothos but has silvery variegation on its leaves that catches and reflects light.
For something a bit more unique, Marino loves the string of hearts, a trailing succulent that doesn’t require much attention. “Once you get into a groove with its care routine, it will reward you with delicate, cascading stems dotted with tiny, heart-shaped, variegated leaves,” she says.
Q: How can you tell if a hanging basket is well made?
Make sure your planter feels sturdy, says Marino, especially where the planter meets the hanger attachment. “You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to a hanging planter crashing to the ground,” she says. She’s been eying Capra’s Terrazzo Hanging Planter, which has thick tanned leather cords.
Q: I know how important drainage holes are, but my hanging planter doesn’t have one. What can I do?
Plant Parenting 101: Don’t let your plants sit in water or else you’re asking for root rot. Create your own drainage in a hanging planter by lining the bottom with an inch or so of lava rocks before adding the potting mix.
Q: Any spots where hanging a plant is a bad idea?
Plants prefer stable environments (don’t we all?), so don’t hang them in front of air conditioners, heating units, or open windows that could cause drafts. If you’re hanging them in your kitchen, be aware of heat sources that could upset your plants.
The Last Word
Plants are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a colorful, lively home. Whether your floor space is maxed out or not, going vertical with these cheerful hanging plants is always a good idea.
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