Hanging baskets are usually associated with traditional, cottage garden-style planting, but they can work just as well in a more contemporary setting. To inspire you, we've created six schemes to try, with options for both sun and shade.


Don't worry if you can't find the exact plants we used in each 'recipe'. Simply substitute them for a similar plant that will enjoy the same growing conditions. Other plants that would work in these schemes include osteospermums, sempervivums, bedding verbenas, erigeron and nemesias in full sun. In shade, alpine strawberries, plectranthus, dichondra and ivy would all work well.

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Once the displays are past their best, don't bin all the plants. Annual bedding plants can be composted, while perennials can be planted in the garden, or potted up into new containers for spring.

Boost the colour in your plot with these contemporary hanging baskets.

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Annual bedding plants can be composted, while perennials can be planted in the garden, or potted up into new containers for spring

Shady characters

This collection of shade-lovers combines attractive foliage with plants that flower in shade. The fern, hosta and tiarella can all be planted out in the garden later on.

We used: Pelargonium 'Blanche Roche', Tiarella 'Cascade Creeper', Hosta 'Francee', Athyrium niponicum var. pictum.

Hosta, fern and tiarella hanging basket display
Shade-loving hanging basket featuring hosta and fern

Hot ticket

This group of sun-loving plants with vibrant flowers is ideal for a sunny patio, from mid to late summer.

We used: Argyranthemum 'Reflection Lemon Cream', Calibrachoa 'Can-can Terracotta' and 'Coral Reef', Begonia 'Apricot Shades'.

Hanging basket planted with orange flowers for full sun
Pale-orange themed hanging basket

Pick and mix

Using flowers and foliage with similar colour tones rather than a kaleidoscope of colours gives a contemporary feel. Trailing plants like lophospermum, pelargonium and ipomoea will disguise a functional hanging basket.

We used: Ipomoea 'Sweetheart Purple', Argyranthemum 'Cherry Pink', Lophospermum 'Wine Red', Pelargonium 'Tomke'.

Argyranthemum and pelargonium bedding plant hanging basket
A pink and red themed hanging basket

Sun bleached

Wind wicks away moisture but succulents with their fleshy leaves have adapted to cope with dry conditions. Pot up the plants in autumn before there's a frost, keep in a heated greenhouse or on a windowsill over winter, then plant out again in summer.

We used: Sedum spathulifolium, Echeveria 'Blue Waves', Senecio repens, Echeveria minima, Kalanchoe thrysiflora.

Succulent hanging basket with echeverias and sedums
Succulent hanging basket

Mellow yellow

The zingy yellow-green foliage of the milium and pale flowers of the begonia and petunia are ideal for shady spots. This display will look good from early summer to autumn.

We used: Petunia 'Surfinia Lime', Milium effusum 'Aureum', Begonia 'Lemon Fizz', Helichrysum 'Silver Mist'.

Bedding hanging basket for shade with milium and begonia
Lime/golden-themed hanging basket for shade

Vivid imagination

This combination mixes textures and colours for dramatic effect. Plant the festuca in the garden or a pot in autumn. Trim the trailing stems of the lotus, pot it up and keep in a frost-free place over winter for next year.


We used: Festuca glauca, Begonia 'Glowing Embers', Begonia 'Bonfire', Lotus berthelotii.

Hanging basket display with begonias and festuca
Hanging basket of silver festuca with red begonias

Holding onto water

Add a small plastic saucer at the bottom of the basket to hold on to water. This will prove especially useful in baking summer weather. Some baskets have built-in water reservoirs.

Antique effect metal watering can