Published on August 29, 2021

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One of the things I often find gets overlooked when people bring greenery into their homes is the use of hanging planters. It goes beyond just the practical reasons of freeing up valuable floor space or getting the leaves out of reach of your pets’ curious mouths. In my work as an interior plant designer, I’ve found that adding even a single hanging plant to a room can do a lot, from drawing the eye up for the illusion of taller ceilings to creating a sense of scale and lushness and making the composition of your greens more dynamic. No matter what effect you’re after, this guide will hopefully demystify the process of how to hang plants indoors. You’ll be reaching new plant parent heights in no time!

What to Look for in a Hanging Planter

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Courtesy of Lady Pruner

First, you’ll want to make sure the planter is the right size—too small and the soil will dry out quickly, which can make watering a nuisance if it’s placed higher up. As a rule, your pot should be at least 1 to 2 inches larger than the plant. (This will also give the plant enough room to grow so it gets lush and long!) 

Planters that don’t come with a hole in the bottom will make watering less of a mess. However, they require proper drainage—I recommend lightweight expandable clay aggregate, aka LECA—and a lighter hand when watering. Containers that have a removable rubber stopper are another great option because they give you control: If the soil is really dry and needs a good drink, you can leave the stopper in and let it rehydrate, avoiding dripping water all over your floor. For plants that are more sensitive to wet soil (or if you’re worried you’ve overwatered), just take the planter over to the sink and remove the stopper to let it drain. 

I tend to look for designs that incorporate the rope, leather, or cord hanging device on the outside of the pot, because natural fibers can easily decay or wear over time with multiple waterings. The result can be coming home to find your beautiful planter in pieces (sad face). However, styles with holes for the cord are common, so if you’re using one, just be mindful to plant below the rope line if possible.

One last thing: Don’t be afraid to switch out the existing hanger on your planter to match your decor or give you more (or less) height.

The Best Plants for Hanging, aka the Best Hang for Your Buck

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Courtesy of Lady Pruner

Generally speaking, I like to use cascading or trailing plants so I can take full advantage of all that vertical growing space. You will get the greatest impact from larger-leaf plants, such as pothos, scindapsus, heart-leaf philodendron (Cortadum, Brazil, or Mican), monstera adansonii, Boston fern, spider plant, or ivy.

Other varieties such as hoyas, lipstick plants, rhipsalis, or trailing succulents like string of pearls offer a more delicate spilling-over-the-sides look. Bonus: In the right conditions, these varieties often flower a few times a year! When it comes to trailing succulents specifically, their smaller roots are a good match for hanging planters, which tend to be shallower.

Many of the varieties I’ve mentioned are also low-maintenance—some can go two weeks or more between waterings, depending on the conditions—which makes them ideal for a spot that’s a pain to reach.

How to Style Your Hanging Planters

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Photography by Natalie McComas

Placement Is Key

It’s super-tempting to immediately buy that really cool plant you just saved on Instagram, but it’s important to first assess the lighting conditions where you want to hang it, then decide on the plant type that works for that spot. It will make for easier care and one very happy plant.

I tend to reserve hanging planters for room corners (preferably near windows); to one side of a large window (to keep it from entirely blocking the rays coming in); or to the side of a bed, lounge chair, sofa, or desk (being mindful not to hang it directly overhead, as it’s not always comfortable to sit with something looming over you).

Be a Plant Groupie

Pots suspended above a cluster of plants on the floor will make a bold focal point, but you can achieve the same look using a few hanging planters grouped on their own. Placing each one at a different height, mixing and matching container type and/or size, and using a range of plant varieties will help to give you a dynamic and verdant display. But don’t underestimate what a single planter can do: In the right space, an extra-large one can make a big statement.

Wonder Walls

Another method that’s often neglected is mounting your greenery to the wall. This works especially well between windows, on small walls, or on columns. Most hanging planters can be suspended from a simple wood or metal wall hook. (Pro tip: Make sure your hook extends further than the width of your planter by at least 1 to 2 inches, so it doesn’t rest awkwardly.)

How to Hang Plants Indoors

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

No matter what ceiling material you’re drilling into, the process of hanging a planter is generally the same. Although there’s an enormous range of hooks out there, these steps are specifically for National Hardware’s swivel swag hook, which I recommend. My instructions also assume that you’re dealing with the most common ceiling in most people’s homes—drywall with a hollow space behind it—but just in case, here’s what you’ll need for every situation.

The Supplies

For drywall: 

  • National Hardware’s swivel swag hook
  • Pencil
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Toggle bolt
  • Drill bit that matches the width of the bolt
  • Machine screw that matches the size of the toggle bolt

For brick, stone, concrete, and plaster: 

  • National Hardware’s swivel swag hook
  • Pencil
  • Lead anchor
  • Electric drill or, ideally, hammer drill with a depth gauge (to make sure you don’t drill too far)
  • Drill bit for masonry
  • Hammer
  • Screw that matches the size of the lead anchor

For wood:

  • National Hardware’s swivel swag hook
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit for wood
  • Wood screw

Step 1: Mark the Spot

With a pencil, mark the spot on the ceiling where you want your hook (and therefore your plant) to go. 

Step 2: Drill the Hole

The correct drill bit size for the swivel hook and toggle bolt is ⅜ inch, but double-check what it says on the packaging. Then drill a hole into the drywall at the spot you marked. You won’t need to go very deep, at most half an inch to an inch, as there will be a hollow space immediately behind the drywall. The hole will look pretty big, which can be a bit disconcerting to see, but don’t worry—the swivel base of the hook will completely cover it.

Step 3: Prep Your Hook

The National Hardware hook kit has two parts to it: the base, which you’ll mount directly to your ceiling, and the hook, which slides into the base at the very end. Putting the hook aside for now, take the base and insert the long machine screw (that’s the screw that has a flat end) through the base, with the head of the screw facing down. Next, take the toggle bolt and screw it about an inch onto the other end of the screw. The “wings” of the toggle bolt should be facing down, so that they fold toward the screw.

Step 4: Install the Hook Base

Fold down the toggle bolt’s wings and carefully push the entire screw and bolt into the hole in the ceiling. It may take a bit of force, and you can always gently tap the head of the screw with a hammer to coax it through. The toggle bolt will automatically spring open behind the wall—you’ll hear it. For reassurance, though, you can gently tug on the screw to confirm the toggle bolt has caught and won’t slide back out.

Step 5: Secure the Hook Base

Using your screwdriver, tighten the screw until the base is sitting flush with the ceiling. Gently pull downward on the screw as you go. This might seem counterintuitive, but it will ensure the bolt stays in place. Don’t overtighten—just make sure the base is snug against the ceiling with no wiggle. Then slide the hook onto the base, making sure it’s secure and rotates easily.

Step 6: Hang Your Plant

You’re almost done! Go ahead and hang your planter on the hook by its cord, adjusting its length as needed (I often aim for above eye level, but the sweet spot will depend on what else is in the space). Last but not least, step back and admire the newest addition to your plant family.

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