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Trailing Flowers: Beautiful Trailing Plants

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Trailing flowers, also known as spillers, are plants with trailing stems that grow down to the ground. These plants are popular among gardeners because the plants offer a vibrant floral display without taking up much floor space. Trailing flowers are also commonly used to accentuate features such as doorways, windows, fences, and walls.

12 Best Trailing Plants for Hanging Baskets & Window Boxes

Trailing flowers like million bells, petunia, and ivy geranium are ideal for hanging baskets and window boxes. These plants work well because they bloom for long periods, have minimal care needs, and are able to grow in limited space. These flowers are colorful and have eyecatching trailing habits.

Million Bells

Million bells have small bell-shaped flowers that come in a range of vibrant shades including pink, yellow, violet, magenta, and white. The flowers grow up to 9 inches tall and bloom prolifically from spring to frost.

These plants are easy to care for because they can tolerate most weather conditions and don’t require deadheading.

Common names Million bells
Scientific name Calibrachoa
Appearance & size Bell-like flowers in a range of colors

3 to 9 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide  

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun to partial shade
Spacing & depth 6 to 12 inches of space between plants 

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every two weeks
Best companion plants Purple fountain grass, geranium, coral bells, and sweet potato vine

 

Million bells grow best with at least six hours of sunlight per day. The soil should be nutrient-rich and at a pH level between 5.2 and 6. While the plants don’t require deadheading, pinching back their stems can help encourage flower growth.

Surfinia

Surfinia is a hybrid of petunia and has dense, colorful flowers. Surfinia plants grow up to 35 inches and come in a range of varieties, including single-flowered, double-flowered, bi-colored, and ruffled (wavy-edged). The plants produce long, dense trails in hanging baskets, and spread prolifically from spring to fall.

The flowers are easy to care for because they’re resistant to diseases, tolerate heat well, and don’t need deadheading.

Common names Surfinia petunia
Scientific name Petunia × atkinsiana
Appearance & size Wide dense flowers in various colors

7 to 11 inches tall and up to 35 inches wide

Difficulty Easy 
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun to partial shade
Spacing & depth 10 to 12 inches of space between plants 

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks
Best companion plants Other petunia varieties, daylily, verbena, and lavender 

 

Surfinias thrive and bloom heavily with at least five hours of sunlight per day, moist soil, and low humidity. Fertilize once a month to support growth and keep the flowers in healthy condition. Avoid growing these plants in cold, frosty environments.

Ivy Geranium

Ivy geranium is a trailing, ornamental plant with fleshy leaves, cascading stems, and flowers that bloom in various shades. The exact appearance of the flowers and leaves depends on the variety. Some have bicolor flowers while others have white-veined leaves. Thanks to their hardy nature, ivy geraniums are easy to maintain and care for.

Common names Ivy geranium 
Scientific name Pelargonium peltatum
Appearance & size Large, fleshy leaves and colorful flowers 

12 to 24 inches tall and 36 to 60 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full to partial shade
Spacing & depth Space plants 12 to 14 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every two weeks
Best companion plants New Guinea impatiens, rose, and chrysanthemum

 

Ivy geraniums prefer moderate temperatures, soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, and low humidity. Four to seven hours of sunlight per day allow these flowers to properly bloom and gain vibrant colors. Water ivy geraniums frequently and ensure the soil is moist, but not soggy.

This plant is toxic to both humans and animals, so it isn’t suitable for households with pets or young children.

Trailing Verbena

Trailing verbenas are known for their clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers and compact foliage. Common flower colors include blue, white, purple, red, and pink, and the plant has a ground cover of up to 5 feet.

Trailing verbenas bloom prolifically for long periods, making them well-suited to hanging baskets and window boxes. However, these plants are moderately difficult to maintain because they’re susceptible to powdery mildew.

 

Common names Trailing verbena 
Scientific name Glandularia canadensis
Appearance & size Star-shaped flowers that come in shades of blue, white, purple, red, or pink

6 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 36 inches wide

Difficulty Moderate
Water needs Moderate
Sun needs Full sun
Spacing & depth Space plants 12 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter, or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Slow-release fertilizer every month
Best companion plants Larkspur, petunia, and snapdragon 

 

Trailing verbenas need 8 to 10 hours of full sun per day and well-drained, dry soil with a pH between 5.8 and 7.2. Prune these plants once or twice every season to encourage new growth.

Be careful not to overwater trailing verbenas because excess moisture can lead to powdery mildew disease. Other ways to prevent powdery mildew include watering at the soil level and ensuring there’s enough air circulation around the plant.

Wave Petunia

Trailing Flowers

Wave petunia, a dense flowering plant with oval-shaped leaves, is popular among horticulturalists because it fills out hanging baskets quickly with its colorful blooms. Unlike many other petunia plants, wave petunias rarely require pinching, pruning, or deadheading.

Common names

Wave petunia

Scientific name Petunia × atkinsiana
Appearance & size Various colors, oval-shaped leaves, compact

6 to 12 inches tall and up to 39 inches wide

Difficulty Easy 
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun 
Spacing & depth Space plants 12 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter, or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every 10 to 14 days
Best companion plants Trailing verbena, geranium, million bells, and sweet potato vine

 

Wave petunias do best in slightly acidic, well-drained sandy soil, at a pH between 5.5 and 6. Because of their fast growth and size, these plants need plenty of space to thrive.

Trailing Lobelia

Trailing lobelia has dense clusters of small, vibrant flowers that come in shades of blue, purple, or white. While this plant is a tender perennial, it can be grown as an annual. The plant reaches 9 inches tall and typically spreads between 6 and 12 inches.

Trailing lobelias spread well and are easy to care for because they self-clean and aren’t susceptible to diseases and pests.

Common names

Trailing lobelia

Scientific name

Lobelia erinus

Appearance & size

Small flowers that come in shades of blue, purple, or white.

6 to 9 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide

Difficulty

Easy

Water needs

Regular

Sun needs

Full sun to partial shade

Spacing & depth Space plants 4 to 6 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every two weeks
Best companion plants

Pansy, viola, snapdragon, and geranium

 

Trailing lobelia seeds must be sown between January and April and kept indoors for 8 to 12 weeks. The plant grows best in full sun or partial shade and with rich, well-drained soil.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme is a perennial shrub with aromatic oval-shaped leaves and vibrant purple-pink flowers. The plant is low-maintenance, attracts bees and butterflies, and grows in a dense spread, which makes it well-suited to window boxes and hanging baskets.

While creeping thyme isn’t typically grown for culinary purposes, the plant is edible and has a mint-like flavor.

Common names Creeping thyme, mother of thyme 
Scientific name Thymus praecox
Appearance & size Oval dark green leaves with purple and pink flowers

2 to 4 inches tall and 6 to 18 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regularly until roots have established, then low
Sun needs Full sun, partial shade
Spacing & depth Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart 

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Not necessary
Best companion plants Rosemary, lavender, sage, and rose

Creeping thyme should be grown in a sunny area with plenty of air circulation and well-draining, loose soil. Avoid planting creeping thyme in wet clay soil, which can cause the plant to develop root rot.

Creeping Zinnia

Creeping zinnia, a member of the Asteraceae family, is known for its star-shaped flowers, dense foliage, and delicate trailing habit. The flowers come in bright shades of orange and yellow and are often compared to sunflowers.

These plants are easy to care for because they don’t have specific nutritional needs and have good drought tolerance.

Common names Creeping zinnia, Mexican creeping zinnia
Scientific name Sanvitalia procumbens
Appearance & size Yellow or orange, small, sunflower-like flowers

4 to 6 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun, part sun
Spacing & depth Space plants 6 to 10 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every month during growing season
Best companion plants Purple fountain grass, dahlia, moss rose, verbena, and pentas 

Creeping zinnias don’t tolerate transplanting, so always move these plants with care and avoid disturbing their roots. These plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight to thrive.

The flowers can thrive in most soil conditions, including moderately fertile, acidic, and slightly alkaline.

Sweet Alyssum

Native to Europe, sweet alyssum is a low-growing plant that produces small cross-shaped flowers. The species blooms in a wide array of hues from spring to frost and is prized by gardeners for its honey-like fragrance and rapid growth.

Caring for sweet alyssums is easy because they can tolerate cool temperatures and various light and soil conditions.

Common names Sweet alyssum, carpet flower 
Scientific name Lobularia maritima
Appearance & size Cross-shaped flowers, colors include white, purple, and pink

3 to 9 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun to partial shade
Spacing & depth Space plants 6 to 12 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter, or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer once a month 
Best companion plants Geranium, snapdragon, petunia, and rose

 

While hardy, sweet alyssums bloom best with at least six to eight hours of light per day, moist, well-draining soil, and regular deadheading. Plant in early spring, or after the last frost.

In warm climates, these plants grow prolifically and are considered invasive species in certain countries and states.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny, a flowering plant of the Primulaceae family, blooms with small yellow flowers that resemble gold coins. This species gracefully drapes down the sides of hanging baskets and window boxes.

Hardy, easy to grow, and not prone to any particular diseases, creeping Jenny is a suitable trailing flower for beginner gardeners.

Common names Creeping Jenny, moneywort, twopenny grass
Scientific name Lysimachia nummularia
Appearance & size Bright yellow flowers with glossy, round leaves

2 to 4 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Regular
Sun needs Full sun
Spacing & depth Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter, or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs 10-10-10 fertilizer solution in spring
Best companion plants Ornamental grasses, daylily, coreopsis, and nandina 

Creeping Jenny plants should be planted in moist soil and positioned in full sun to partial shade.

While this species grows rapidly, keeping it in a size-appropriate basket and trimming regularly keeps its growth in check. The basket must be spacious enough to house its dense root system.

Dichondra Silver Falls

Trailing Flowers

Silver falls is a trailing foliage plant that gets its name from its silver-green leaves and dense, waterfall-like trailing habit. It’s popular among gardeners because of its vigorous spreading, adaptability, and tough nature.

Common names Silver falls, silver nickel vine, dichondra silver falls
Scientific name Dichondra argentea
Appearance & size Distinct silvery foliage

3 to 4 inches tall and 18 to 48 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Low
Sun needs Full sun to partial shade
Spacing & depth Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Slow-release fertilizer during growing period
Best companion plants Agave ‘blue glow,’ Aeonium arboreum, Cordyline australis ‘red star,’ tidal wave petunia, and ivy geranium 

While silver falls can tolerate partial shade, full sun gives the leaves a more silver coloration.  Let the soil dry out between waterings to prevent root rot.

Madagascar Periwinkle

Madagascar periwinkle is a fast-growing, herbaceous flowering plant that features glossy, green leaves and rosy pink or white flowers. The plant has been used in vinca alkaloid medicines that treat ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Native to Madagascar, the Madagascar periwinkle species is accustomed to tropical climates and can tolerate periods of drought and high temperatures. The species is also resistant to pests and can be grown as a perennial or annual.

Common names Madagascar periwinkle, rosy periwinkle, old maid, vinca, bright eyes
Scientific name Catharanthus roseus
Appearance & size Small flowers with five petals, rose, pink or white coloration 

6 to 20 inches tall and 4 to 20 inches wide

Difficulty Easy
Water needs Low
Sun needs Full sun to partial shade
Spacing & depth Space plants 11 inches apart

Sow seeds at a depth equivalent to the seed’s diameter or follow the plant’s care instructions 

Fertilizer needs Liquid fertilizer every two weeks during growing period
Best companion plants Lobelia, lilyturf, and hakone grass

Madagascar periwinkle grows rapidly and spreads aggressively. Prune regularly, and if the plant outgrows its home, replant it in a larger container.

Because the species contains toxic chemicals, the plant shouldn’t be kept in households with children or animals.

How to Grow and Care for Trailing Flowers

Trailing plants are generally easy to care for, as long as they’re kept in appropriate conditions and their individual needs are met. Some plants do best in full sun, while other plants prefer dry conditions.

Here are some tips for growing and caring for trailing flowers, especially those in containers like hanging baskets and window boxes:

  • Cut off dead leaves and flowers so the plant can direct all its energy and nutrients to support the healthy, growing parts. While removing the dead leaves, inspect for signs of pests or disease, and apply treatment if necessary
  • Add water if the soil feels dry and warm to the touch
  • Ensure the hanging basket or window box is of an appropriate size for the trailing flowers. The plants should have plenty of room to grow and should never have to compete for space or nutrients with each other
  • Opt for a potting soil that retains moisture well, like peat moss
  • Ensure the hanging basket has several draining holes. Without proper drainage, the water can get trapped and drown the roots of the trailing flowers, causing root rot
  • Pour water into the hanging basket gradually to allow the soil to better absorb the water

Trailing Flowering Plants That Can Be Planted Together

When pairing flowering plants, ensure they have enough room to grow, aren’t in direct competition, and have similar soil, light, and water needs.

Flowering plants like silver falls, wave petunia, and ivy geranium grow well together because they thrive in the same environments and their colors complement one another. Trailing verbena and wave petunia also pair well.

Mixing trailing flowers with thrillers and fillers can add depth and complexity to hanging baskets. Thrillers are tall, striking plants that grow upward, and filler plants add mass while enhancing the thriller’s look. Attractive combinations include:

  • Ivy geranium, New Guinea impatiens, and coleus
  • Million bells, petunia, and verbena
  • Creeping zinnia, purple fountain grass, and moss rose

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