15 Drought-Tolerant Plants for Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets lend vertical interest to the garden, ornamenting the view with dynamic flowers and foliage. To lessen watering needs (and water worries) opt for plants that withstand dry conditions, at least for a short time. Join gardener Katherine Rowe in exploring drought-tolerant plants with a host of other winning qualities to grow in hanging baskets this season.

Clusters of small, white lantana flowers cascade over dense, green leaves.

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We know that hanging baskets, those airborne beauties dangling in the warm breeze and basking in summer’s heat, dry out more quickly than in-ground plantings. To make growing (and watering) a little easier, it helps to start with plants that withstand conditions on the dryer side.

Whether annuals or perennials, drought-tolerant plants have a better chance of flourishing in hanging planters during short dry spells or a gap in watering sessions. While many of these plants still grow and bloom best with consistently moist soils, they’re more forgiving during a lapse in regular water. Many even prefer to dry out slightly between waterings, with overwatering more detrimental to plant health than underwatering.

Opt for drought-resistant plants if you have a sunny exposure that dries out quickly or if watering once or twice a week is more your schedule rather than doing so more frequently. Choose a container large enough to comfortably house your plant selections with ample soil volume for growing roots. Mulch hanging baskets for added moisture retention and insulation.

Trailing Lantana

Purple trailing lantana flowers contrast beautifully with lush green leaves, creating a vibrant floral display.
Rugged and reliable lantanas thrive in containers with upright and trailing forms.
botanical-name botanical name Lantana montevidensis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Trailing lantana has cascading stems full of bloom clusters for overflowing color in hanging baskets. Plants are exceptionally tough, thriving in hot, dry, and humid conditions and salty exposures. In the landscape, they tolerate lean, sandy soils and partial shade, though in containers, they’ll prefer a well-draining potting mix.

Trailing lantana flowers are classically lilac and lavender with white centers and yellow throats (‘Luscious Grape’ and ‘Lavender Swirl’ are two vigorous varieties). ‘Alba’ has bright white flowers. 

Spreading lantanas like the hybrid ‘Spreading Sunset’ in deep, vivid reds, golds, oranges, and pinks also work beautifully in hanging baskets. Lantana camara ‘Samantha’ brings a low, spreading habit with yellow blooms and green and yellow variegated leaves. 

Lantana is rugged and reliable and grows well in containers with both upright and trailing forms. Err on the dry side between watering sessions; lantana doesn’t do well when overwatered or in soggy soils. 

Angelonia

Purple angelonia flowers interspersed with green leaves, arranged delicately along slender, graceful stems.
Trailing varieties like ‘Angel Mist’ offer humidity-resistant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Angelonia angustifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-1.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Angelonia keeps on blooming as the summer heat ratchets up. It is drought, heat, and humidity-tolerant, thriving in full sun and rich soils with good drainage,

Angelonia produces waves of colorful bloom spikes in rich blue, purple, pink, rose, white, and bicolor. The petite, two-lipped flowers line the stems and rise above attractive dark green, narrow leaves.

In both upright and trailing varieties, angelonia creates a full vertical specimen or soft cascade among hanging basket arrangements. For trailing varieties, look for heat and humidity-resistant selections like ‘Angel Mist’ or ‘Angelface Cascade’ with large blooms in deep purple, rose, blue, white, and pink.  

Angelonia benefits from good air circulation, especially in humid areas. The low-maintenance plants don’t need deadheading to promote flowering.

Scaevola

Vibrant pink scaevola flowers; each petal unfolding gracefully under the sunlight.
This plant doesn’t need deadheading for continual blooming.
botanical-name botanical name Scaevola aemula
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Scaevola, or fan flower, is a gently spreading annual with showy fan-shaped blooms in blue, lavender, pink, and white. Its graceful habit, floriferous display, and leafy stems are ideal for hanging baskets. Plants tolerate heat and drought and are pest-resistant. 

Scaevola quickly fills up a hanging planter with dense foliage and blooms. It stands alone as a featured specimen or pairs with the vibrant chartreuse or deep purple of sweet potato vine and color-draped calibrachoa. 

Fan flower grows best in sun to partial shade in hot, dry conditions. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Plants are “self-cleaning” and don’t need deadheading for continual blooming.

Verbena

Clusters of pink and fuchsia rose verbena bloom in full profusion, illuminating the scene with their delicate hues. The blossoms gracefully emerge from sturdy green stems, embraced by a lush array of verdant leaves.
The mounding and trailing habits of annual verbena are ideal for hanging displays.
botanical-name botanical name Verbena x hybrida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Annual verbena produces clusters of small, star-shaped flowers on the tips of mounding and trailing stems with dark green foliage. Their long bloom season, low growing habit, and color selections from peach to blue-violet complement a variety of other annuals. 

The ‘Superbena’ series boasts large blooms on trailing plants with vigorous growth in varieties like Red,’ ‘Peachy Keen,’ and ‘Stormcloud,’ a swirl of lavender and white. The ‘Tapien’ series grows as a spreading verbena (ideal for trailing over basket edges) and is known for superior heat tolerance.

Verbena tolerates bright sun and drying out between waterings. Perennial verbena, like ‘Homestead Purple,’ is a good performer in hot, humid climates. Trim verbena if it gets leggy to rejuvenate growth.

Licorice Plant

Lush green licorice plants; their slender stems intertwining gracefully.
This requires well-drained soils to prevent fungal diseases like root rot.
botanical-name botanical name Helichrysum petiolare
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Licorice plant is a distinctive “filler” and “spiller” option with silver-flocked leaves on stems that spread and trail. With semi-succulent qualities and reflective leaves, licorice plants tolerate dry spells handily. For added interest, plants have a slight licorice scent most noticeable in summer heat.

Cultivars with chartreuse (‘Lemon’) and variegated (‘Splash’) leaves also spice up the hanging basket arrangement with high contrast. Licorice plant is a tender perennial in mild, arid climates, and it overwinters indoors where it’s not hardy. It is invasive in parts of coastal California

Soils with good drainage are essential for Helichrysum. They tolerate poor soils as long as they’re well-draining. Overly wet conditions cause fungal diseases like root rot.

Heuchera

Dark purple Heuchera flowers; their delicate petals unfurling in a rich, deep hue.
Coral bells are good fillers in hanging arrangements with bold foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Heuchera, or coral bells, are North American native perennials with foliage in unique shapes and colors. The species has attractive green leaves, with lime green, purple, bronze, black, red, or orange foliage varieties, often in mottled tones.

Once established, heuchera is relatively drought-tolerant in containers, at least for a short time. When the leaves begin to curl and wilt, plants need water.

Coral bells have a mounding habit, making them a good “filler” option among other foliar textures and colors in hanging arrangements. In addition to the bold foliage, sweet bloom sprays in pinks, corals, and reds rise in summer. 

Heuchera needs rich, organic soils in well-draining raised beds. They grow best in partial shade with morning sun or dappled light.

Begonia

A brown hanging pot showcases a lush begonia plant adorned with vibrant red flowers.
These thrive both outdoors in summer and indoors for year-round enjoyment.
botanical-name botanical name Begonia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-1.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Begonias are durable plants that bloom despite hot, dry, and humid conditions. Preferring partial to full shade, they’ll brighten up dark garden corners with delicate blooms hanging from arching stems with thick, glossy leaves. The leaves range from grassy green to dark bronze, and the flowers span from blush pink to white to scarlet.

Spreading begonias make sweet, reliable hanging basket plants independently or in planting combinations. The ‘Hula’ series is a wax begonia hybrid that brings full color (pink, white, red, and bicolor blooms) to a mounding, spreading form for a tailor-made and easy-care basket selection. 

Begonias are old-fashioned garden favorites due to their hardy performance in summer conditions and continual blooms from spring until frost. They’ll love spending summer outdoors and overwinter indoors for year-round interest.

Trailing Vinca

A close-up of pink trailing vinca flowers illuminated by sunlight, showcasing intricate petals and vibrant hues in a natural setting.
Annual vinca thrives in sunny, hot conditions in containers.
botanical-name botanical name Catharanthus roseus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Annual vinca is a low-maintenance plant with abundant color, even in dry conditions. Trailing varieties create lovely planter accents as they spill over basket edges with blooms in pastel or vibrant hues.  Flower “eyes” brighten the bloom in contrasting colors of clear white, yellow, or pink. Attractive foliage is thick, deep green, and glossy. 

Whether upright or trailing, annual vinca makes a good specimen for containers in lots of sunlight and high heat conditions. ‘Cora Cascade’ selections trail with large blooms, good disease resistance, and rich purple, white, cherry, and magenta flowers.

Perennial vinca, Vinca minor, is also a pretty trailing plant in shadier hanging baskets, where it can stay contained to avoid aggressive spreading in the landscape. Variegated foliage and deep periwinkle blooms are a sweet accent in partial shade containers.

Zinnia

Its varieties like ‘Profusion’ and ‘Zahara’ offer compact growth with prolific blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Zinnia elegans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Zinnias bring big color to the annual planter with showy flowers in a rainbow of colors. Hardy hybrids like ‘Profusion’ and ‘Zagreb’ boast drought tolerance, disease resistance, and a mounding habit with flowers covering plants from summer through fall.

‘Profusion’ performs in all climates with single or double two-inch blooms. The flowers are smaller than traditional zinnias, and plants mound rather than stand tall, but the “profusion” of blooms is excellent in hanging baskets. ‘Orange,’ ‘White,’ ‘Cherry,’ and the lovely ‘Double Deep Salmon’ are All-America Selections award winners, and ‘Cherry’ is a Fleuroselect Gold Medal recipient.

The ‘Zahara’ zinnia series, too, features improved disease resistance and high heat performance with more prominent blooms. ‘Starlight Rose,’ ‘Cherry,’ and ‘Fire’ won the All-America Selections award in single and double blooming selections.

Zinnias need good air circulation to thrive. Provide well-drained soil and full sun to prevent pests and fungal diseases, especially in humid climates.

Mealycup Sage

Tall purple flowers of mealycup sage rise above vivid green foliage.
Salvia selections like Mealycup are resilient with stunning bloom spikes.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia farinacea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Also called blue mealy sage, this short-lived perennial has rich blue-purple bloom spires and tubular blooms “dusted” in white. The striking flowers add vertical interest to hanging baskets and draw butterflies and hummingbirds to its nectar-producing blooms.

Mealycup sage is native to prairies, plains, and meadows in the Southwestern U.S., with cultivars bred for form and flowering. For a compact variety with florific production, look to ‘Fairy Queen,’  which has sapphire blue and white flowers. The spot of white creates the “fairy dust” on blooming wands.

Mealycup is moderately drought tolerant once established, as are most salvia selections. They’re rugged plants with gorgeous, productive bloom spikes in hot and dry conditions. Overwatering causes plants to become weak and leggy.

Livingstone Daisy

Livingstone daisies feature slender yellow petals encircling violet centers.
The Dorotheanthus requires well-drained soil to flourish.
botanical-name botanical name Dorotheanthus bellidiformis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 11

Dorotheanthus is a low-growing tender perennial that forms a trailing carpet of glimmering green succulent leaves. In June through October, daisy-like flowers in hues from white to purple-red appear on leafy stems.

Also called Livingstone daisy, these tough plants tolerate drought and heat, preferring warm temperatures and dryer soils. In hanging baskets, varieties like ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ with red daisy blooms and mint green leaves and ‘Sparkle Blend’ with pops of coral, white, orange, and red ray flowers make vibrant specimens.

While Dorotheanthus is durable with succulent qualities and low water needs, plants won’t thrive if soils dry out completely in hanging baskets. They need well-drained soils to flourish.

Purple Heart

A close-up of a purple heart flower; its delicate petals unfurling gracefully against a softly blurred deep purple background.
This complements other plants like sweet potato vine and licorice plant.
botanical-name botanical name Tradescantia pallida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-1.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

Purple heart is another low-growing trailing plant that cascades from hanging baskets with long, narrow leaves and fleshy stems in deep purple. The color and texture bring rich contrast to planting arrangements; drought tolerance is an added feature.

Purple heart tolerates partial shade but shows the best color as sun exposure increases. Its dark purple leaves pair beautifully with the chartreuse and silver foliage of sweet potato vine, licorice plant, and flowering plants like scaevola, angelonia, and zinnia.

Purple heart leaves curl without water and unfurl with regular water. These low-maintenance trailers thrive on neglect but won’t mind consistent moisture.

Bougainvillea

Brown hanging pots filled with bougainvillea flowers in shades of purple, orange, and white, cascading down gracefully.
Ensure this receives occasional watering for optimal flowering.
botanical-name botanical name Bougainvillea spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-40′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Bougainvillea is a tropical vine with brilliant papery pink, red, white, and yellow blooms. In their native South America and similar climate zones, plants reach up to forty feet and adorn facades, arches, and arbors. Outside these tropical growing regions, they make spectacular spreading focal points in hanging baskets.

Bougainvillea withstands dry conditions and high heat. It flowers best with regular watering but won’t pout if the soil is dry between sessions.

Plants have long thorns along their stems, so place hanging baskets out of reach. When possible, protect plants from winds to keep blooms from flying away.

Ornamental Oregano

A 'Kirigami' oregano plant featuring deeply lobed leaves, with delicate veins visible on the surface. Small clusters of purple flowers bloom amidst the foliage, adding a pop of color to the verdant greenery.
A low-growing variety called ‘Kirigami’ has whorling bracts resembling hops.
botanical-name botanical name Origanum laevigatum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height up to 2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Ornamental oregano is a perennial herb in the mint family, grown not for its culinary flavor but for its attractive, aromatic foliage and flowers. Foliage is light green, whorled around stems in a lovely arrangement, often with pink or purple tones.

‘Kent Beauty’ is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit with long- lasting purple bracts, silvery foliage, and a low-growing habit. ‘Kirigami’ is also low-growing, with a weeping habit ideal for hanging baskets. Light purple tones brush the highly fragrant leaves.

Ornamental oregano is drought tolerant once established. Plants appreciate weekly water during dry spells in hanging planters to avoid drying out completely.

Trailing Osteospermum

White trailing Osteospermum flowers bloom vibrantly, nestled amidst lush green leaves.
Osteospermum features daisy-like flowers in various colors.
botanical-name botanical name Osteospermum fruticosum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Trailing osteospermum is a Mediterranean-growing African Daisy. Plants have a mounding, spreading habit well-suited to filling up and flowing over planter edges. Upright varieties, too, make excellent water-wise container solutions.

Osteospermum bears a profusion of daisy-like flowers that whirl in white, pink, purple, coral, and yellow. Trailing series of osteo like ‘Sunbrella,’ ‘Falling Stars,’ and ‘Osticade’ are selections built to spill. 

In climates with cool summers, osteospermum flower from spring until frost. In warmer climates, they’ll do best in spring before higher temperatures arrive. African daisies prefer full sun in moist, well-drained soils. Native to South Africa, these plants tolerate periods of drought.

Final Thoughts:

Hanging baskets make beautiful garden adornments throughout the year and are especially brilliant in the warm growing season. For a little less tending, opt for plants with low water needs. They often come with other low-maintenance qualities, too. Enjoy arranging plants with similar growing requirements with a little more time to sit back and appreciate them between waterings.

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