Would you like to fill your garden with flowers this summer?
Many of us spend more time in our gardens in summer, so it’s the perfect season to create a show-stopping display of flowers and foliage for the whole family to enjoy. Planting up summer containers and hanging baskets is a brilliant way to perk up a patio or front door, and it’s also ideal if you’ve got a small outdoor space or not much time to keep on top of the garden.
Read on for twenty great summer plants for pots and hanging baskets, plus tips on choosing and caring for your summer planters.
When should I plant my summer pots?
If you’re using small plants that need time to grow and fill out your container, it’s a good idea to plant them in late spring. Doing this will give you a display of flowers and foliage earlier in summer. If you plant in spring you will need to protect your summer planters from frost until around the end of May.
If you’re using larger, more established plants to create a summer garden display, you can get away with planting later. This is the way to go if you don’t have the ability to provide frost protection.
Choosing pots for summer planters
When it comes to containers for your summer plants, you have lots of choice. There’s a huge range on the market, so it’s easy to find a size and style to suit your outdoor space. vidaXL has lots of great products for the garden and is a good place to start.
Another option is to have fun with an upcycling project. Old watering cans, wellies, teapots and chimney pots all make good summer planters.
Obviously personal preference is a big factor when choosing a container, but it’s also important to make sure that any planter you go for has drainage holes in the bottom. If you’ve fallen in love with a planter which doesn’t have holes, you will need to use an inner plant pot that does have them.
The best summer plants for pots and hanging baskets
Are you ready to be inspired? This guide to the best summer plants for pots and hanging baskets will help you keep the garden looking wonderful all summer long.
Perfect summer flowers for pots
The focus of a summer planter is usually flowering plants. All of these flowers to plant in summer are ideal for pots and hanging baskets.
Geraniums (also known as pelargoniums) are much-loved summer flowers for outdoor pots, and for good reason. They provide a big dose of colour, they have attractive leaves, and they’re long-flowering.
Petunias are hugely popular plants for summer pots, because they’re easy to grow and flower for months. They’re available in a wide range of colours, plus some really lovely double and patterned varieties.
Another firm favourite for summer container plants, fuchsias have stunning blooms that nod gently and create movement in a pot. You can choose from standard or trailing varieties.
Impatiens (or busy lizzies) are compact plants, so they work well in smaller pots and summer hanging baskets. Choose from bright pinks, purples and reds, or go for more subtle pastel tones and white varieties.
Begonias are usually grown for their flowers, but they also have nice bronzed foliage, so they really earn their space in a container. Remove old flowers regularly to keep them blooming.
Dahlias have seriously impressive flowers, and are great for keeping a pot looking good in late summer. They’re quite an upright plant and are best suited to larger containers.
Cosmos will grow quite big if you let it, but if you cut it back early on it will become more bushy and compact. It’s a very prolific flowerer, and as an added bonus it’s a simple way to make your garden more wildlife friendly.
Lavender is another favourite with bees and pollinating insects. It’s also highly fragranced, so it works really well in pots next to a path or seating area. Choose a compact variety when growing lavender in pots and containers.
Another good choice if you’d like a fragrant display, nicotiana gives off lots of scent in the evening. Expect it to be popular with butterflies and moths.
If you like daisy-style flowers, osteospermum (or African daisies) are a great option. They produce lots of flowers, and if you keep deadheading you can look forward to months of colour.
A good bedding plant for summer pots, verbena produces clusters of tiny flowers on frondy foliage. A white variety is useful for cool colour schemes, while bolder colours allow you to turn up the volume on a pot display.
I think lobelia is one of the best flowering plants for pots. The dainty blue, purple or white flowers are handy for bulking up a pot, and look gorgeous. Trailing varieties work particularly well in hanging pots.
Don’t rule out growing sunflowers in pots; there are some lovely dwarf varieties available. My favourite is Teddy Bear, which is really compact and has fluffy, tactile flower heads.
Zinnias have fantastic blooms, and will give a pot bags of colour throughout summer and into autumn. Grow them in full sun for maximum flowers.
Great foliage plants for summer pots and hanging baskets
I think foliage plants are an essential part of any container display. They can be used to fill gaps and add height, texture, colour and contrast. Here are some of my favourite foliage plants for summer pots.
Coleus is a foliage plant, but the leaves are so colourful I tend to think of it as a summer flowering plant for pots. There are lots of bold shades to choose from, all of which will add drama to a summer container.
Another bold foliage plant, heucheras range in colour from purples right through to orange and gold. They’re particularly good for contemporary plant displays.
If you like silver colour schemes for your plants, go for cineraria. Its silver leaves have a soft texture and an interesting shape.
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia)
This zingy, lime green foliage plant works beautifully with hot colours. It’s a trailing plant, so it’s good in hanging planters too.
Ivy is a low-cost, low maintenance trailing plant that will help you to increase the surface area of plants in pretty much any container. I like to use it in hanging baskets to soften the edges.
Compact varieties of ornamental grass will give your summer pots height, movement and texture. Good options for pots include Stipa tenuissima, Hakonechloa macra, and Phormium.
Care tips for summer planters
To keep your containers and hanging baskets looking good throughout summer, follow these simple tips.
- Use good quality *peat-free compost in your pots and hanging baskets. Our best compost for pots article has lots of advice on which products to use.
- Water your containers regularly. Check them every couple of days (or daily if the weather is really warm) and water if the surface of the soil feels dry.
- Feed your plants with *general purpose plant food (the packaging will tell you how much and how often).
- Use *secateurs or *snips to remove dead flowers and seed heads regularly (this is called deadheading). Doing this encourages the plants to produce more flowers.
I hope this guide to choosing and caring for summer plants for pots and hanging baskets has given you lots of ideas, and inspired you to create some beautiful summer plant displays!
More container gardening inspiration
If you’d like some more resources on container gardening and growing flowers in pots, I’ve got you covered.
If you’re dealing with extreme summer weather, my list of drought tolerant plants has fifty varieties to make your garden more low maintenance.
My fall flowers for pots post is perfect for autumn, and for spring containers you can take a look at my guide to spring flowers for pots. I’ve also got some winter-specific container gardening posts: the best winter plants for pots and plants for winter hanging baskets.
Like the idea of growing veggies in pots? My post on easy vegetables to grow in pots has ten varieties to try.
My guide to dealing with ants in plant pots is great if you need some pest control tips.
And finally, my series on garden jobs this month will keep your summer gardening organised!