General gardening topics

Top 5 Best winter plants for hanging baskets

Last updated on March 28th, 2022

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As the season changes and your existing summer bedding plants die off, your search begins for the best winter plants to refill your summer hanging baskets with plants that will keep going throughout winter. There are very few that will make it through the winter, so you won’t have as many options as you did for your spring and summer baskets, but there are still some great basket plants that will weather winter, with the likes of winter pansies flowering right the way through until spring, along with some miniature bulbs that will push through in spring.

To see our top recommendations read on as we show you some of our favourite plants for winter hanging baskets. 

1. Hedra helix – Trailing Ivy

Hedera also known as ivy suitable for shady parts of the garden

Most people don’t recommend growing ivy in the garden because it will quickly take over and can cause structural damage if it crawls up your house. However, in a hanging basket, it’s the perfect winter plant because it’s contained. You can enjoy the bulking foliage as it drops over the sides of your hanging basket.

It’ll add a delightful summer feel with bright green to your otherwise dull backdrop. Ivy is usually available from most garden centres and nurseries later in the season in small pots, and the great thing about ivy is that you can split a pot into 3-4 pieces and spread it equally around the edge of your basket. After winter, you can either transfer it to your summer baskets or even consider using it in an indoor basket.

2. Winter Pansies

Winter pansies which are perfect for winter pots

Winter pansies will not stop flowering so if you deadhead them throughout the winter you can encourage additional flowers, they look so stunning and are one of the only plants that will flower continuously throughout winter. You can also cut them back as soon as you see any of the offshoots becoming straggly or limp.

They won’t grow very quickly in the winter so you’ll want to pack them closely together in order to create the best effect. Most of these varieties will flower from October all the way until spring so plant them in your winter hanging baskets early. They are best planted a little earlier so they can get their roots established and put on some growth before winter, around September is probably a good time.

Learn how to sow winter pansies from seed here

3. Hardy Cyclamen – Cyclamen coum, hederifolium and purpurascens

cyclemen perennial for dry shade.

This is a flowering perennial that produces white, red, and pink coloured flowers with detailed leaves. They do prefer some shade and once they are finished with in your hanging baskets you can move them directly into your garden and start your spring flowers concurrently. They also grow well under trees and hedges so need not be wasted after winter.

Hardy Cyclamen varieties include cyclamen coum, Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens. They usually have the smaller flowers are not to be mixed up with the larger flowering varieties that will not survive the winter and are usually used as houseplants.

4. Hardy Primroses

The double primrose is something you can buy in garden centres and nurseries in the Autumn. The double form rosettes can be grown in containers or hanging baskets and subsequently transferred to the ground when the season changes.

You can get a splash of colour even in the cold winter by getting the Primroses, also known as prims and primulas. These are non-trailing flowers and they won’t grow very tall but they do make a delightful display. If you plant the hardy primroses you should place them on the side of your basket so that they give a better display.

Alternatively, you can fill the entire basket with them to create a sort of ball bursting with colour in every space you have available. They will flower in autumn, a little through winter but not as prolific as pansies and they will burst into colour in early spring. These can be removed in spring and replanted.

5. Winter Bulbs

Autumn and Winter flowering bulbs

If you want colour early on in the season, you can plant bulbs like snowdrops in your basket. If you want colour later in the season you can try mini daffodils such as tete-tete or mini tulips. The best part is once your basket is finished you can move your bulbs into your garden directly. Our favourite is using miniature daffodils because some of the other bulbs (such as crocus) don’t last as long when in flower. Miniature daffodils are just fantastic.

Prepare the Baskets

Now that you have the flowers selected, it is time to prepare the basket. The baskets you use should have a liner to protect the roots of your plants and prevent your soil from being washed away.

The growing medium you choose should offer good drainage. A multi-purpose compost should work well to absorb water quickly and drain well, both of which will keep the flowers healthy without drowning them. Add some slow-release food into the mixture when you prepare the basket. 


Avoid feeding throughout the winter. You can add the slow-release food at the beginning but don’t add more. Make sure that the soil is free draining and doesn’t get frozen or waterlogged. No matter which of these plants you choose, plant them much closer together than you would with a summer display because the growth is not as vigorous. Avoid lots of gaps because the plants will grow modestly with the winter conditions.

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1 Comment

  1. Honey thorne

    What are the best trailing plants for hanging baskets in winter? I love colour, I’m not keen on the ivy

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