Best Fall Plants for Hanging Baskets

Shorter days and cooler temperatures do not mean an end to floral container arrangements. Keep the color going by creating a fall hanging basket! We’ve created two hanging basket arrangements using common cold weather plants you can find at your local garden center. 

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Choosing the Right Hanging Basket

One of the best hanging wire baskets we’ve come across is Oregon Wire’s Premium Hanging Basket. The Premium Baskets’ thicker gauge wire makes it sturdy for years of use and able to withstand the weight that comes when filled to the brim with soil and flowers. Its ridged hanger is also a noteworthy feature, making hanging your basket much simpler than the common chain hanger.

The Premium Basket comes in a range of sizes: 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, 20” and 24.” For our fall hanging basket project, we used the 16” in black.

 
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Ornamental Sweet Potato

It’s difficult to find fall varieties of cascading flowers for hanging baskets, but ornamental sweet potato is an excellent option. Ornamental sweet potato is a close relative to the common sweet potato; but instead of producing vegetables they’re bred for colorful foliage. Ornamental sweet potato can vary in color from light green, to a deep purple with magenta stem. For fall hanging baskets, we prefer the rich hue of the darker variety.

Ornamental sweet potato is considered an annual and will die off with low temperatures. You can extend the life of your plant by bringing it inside when outside temperatures reach the low 50’s. Return the plant outside in spring after the final frost.

Plant Care: Partial to full sunlight. Water once to twice a week.

 
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Dianthus

Don’t let the delicate looks of the dianthus fool you; this hardy plant can withstand low temperatures, making it a great addition to your fall hanging basket. Dianthus come in a variety of colors, including pink, red, purple, white, yellow and salmon. Their unique blue-grey foliage provides a beautiful backdrop to the blooms. 

Dianthus can withstand light frosts but will not overwinter in areas which receive continuous hard freezes.

Plant Care: Full Sun, water once to twice a week.

 
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Ornamental Pepper

Spice up your fall hanging basket with bright colors of ornamental peppers! Another vegetable bred for visual appeal over taste, the ornamental pepper’s fruit grow straight up above the foliage like a flower. These plants add vibrant yellows, reds and magentas to your outdoor fall décor. On some varieties the fruit and foliage will change color as the season continues, adding an element of surprise!

 As days shorten and temperatures decrease, ornamental pepper growth will slow, and eventually stop. The plants fruit will remain until the first frost. If you’d like to overwinter your ornamental pepper, bring indoors and place near a sunny window.

 Plant Care: Full Sun. Water once to twice weekly.

 
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Chrysanthemums

When September arrives, you’re sure to see chrysanthemums take over your local garden centers.  For abundant blooms of bright colors, the chrysanthemum is one of the showiest, cold hardy flowers available. Chrysanthemums come in a large variety of colors; for fall hanging basket arrangements we gravitate toward the warm harvest colors of yellow, orange, deep red and bronze.

Established chrysanthemums can overwinter outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 5 through 9. If you live outside those zones, bring your potted chrysanthemums inside and keep in a cool, well-lit spot.

Plant care: Full sun. Water once or twice a week.

 
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Snapdragon

Thriving on cool weather to sharpen its blooms, the snapdragon makes a showy addition to your fall hanging basket. Though we chose a soft salmon color to pair with our harvest hues, snapdragons come in pretty much every color (except blue). When planting, place your snapdragon near the rear or center of your hanging basket, as they grow quite tall. Looking for cascading flowers for hanging baskets? Snapdragons come in trailing varieties, ask your local garden center if they stock Asarina procumbens.

Snapdragons last well into October in most areas, thriving with nighttime temperatures in the 40’s and daytime temperatures in the 60’s.

Plant Care: Full sun to partial shade. Water twice a week.

 
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Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are similar to what you’d find in a vegetable garden, but are bred for texture and color instead of flavor. Their layers of ruffled leaves transition from deep greens to purples, pinks and even white near the center. Their rich jewel tones sharpen with cool temperatures, making them a gorgeous fall plant for hanging baskets.

Because ornamental cabbage and kale can withstand temperatures below freezing, it’s common for them to last through winter in most U.S. Hardiness zones.

Plant Care: Full Sun. Water when the first inch of soil becomes dry.

 
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Dusty Miller

What dusty miller lacks in blooms, it makes up for in texture, pattern and color. It’s silvery leaves and intricate foliage look as though it’s covered by a layer of frost; a perfect welcome to the cooler season. Pairing dusty miller with a showier plant in your hanging basket arrangement is a great way to add contrast and interest.

Dusty miller can tolerate frost and even survive winters in USDA plant hardiness zones 8-10.

Plant Care: Full sun. Water once a week.

 
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Pansies

A cold weather favorite of many gardeners, the pansy is an excellent choice to add a pop of color in Fall. Pansies include a large range of bold colors and patterns; try pairing them against less showy plants, like dusty miller and ornamental kale, to increase texture and interest in your arrangement.

Pansies can survive in temperatures well below freezing, making them a perennial in most U.S Hardiness zones.

Plant Care: Part sun. Water 2 to 3 times a week.

 
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Get Planting!

Considering that hanging basket arrangements may be relocated to sheltered areas outdoors, thus enjoying a micro-climate of winter sun and wind protection, the colors of summer may not be over.  Try several combinations suggested above - and see how long you can make it last!

 
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Al Hickson