General gardening topics

How many plants do you put in a hanging basket and what size plants to use

Last updated on May 25th, 2022

Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.

Hanging baskets are a wonderful way to provide a cascade of colour in your garden in multiple areas. A hanging basket can give you layers to what would otherwise be a very flat garden with pots. This layering also gives you the opportunity to plant trailing plants that naturally cascade down and enlivens your space with colour all year round as you can plant baskets in spring that flower throughout summer and then swap them for winter hanging baskets filled with things like pansies, violas, Bellis and ivy, not forgetting a conifer for the centre.

If you are considering hanging baskets, it’s important that you properly space your plants so that they have enough room to grow. If you use too many plants they can compete against each other and won’t do as well, or look as full as they would have if you had used fewer plants.

But how many should you plant?

There is no single answer for this because it is contingent upon the size of the hanging container, whether you are planting just the top or are you planting the sides as well. The other consideration is whether you are using plug plants, usually available by mail order from nurseries, or using larger basket plants in 9cm pots that are much more established. 

We always recommend using larger plants in 9cm pots because they generally do much better as they are already established with good root systems.

The number of plants shown below assumes you are planting larger basket plants grown in 9cm pots. If you want to plant smaller plug plants, we recommend doubling up on our recommendation below.

  1. If you have a basket between 12 inches and 14 inches across, you can plant between 3 and 5 basket plants. If you are planting the sides too, you may want to add another 3 to 5 but we usually recommend just planting the tops of smaller baskets. You want to make sure that when you do so, you space them evenly around the perimeter of the basket so that they don’t get overcrowded as soon as they come into their roots.
  2. If you have a basket that is anywhere between 16 inches and 18 inches, you can plant between 5 and 7 flowers but at this point, you want to make sure that you have a deeper basket to accommodate the large root systems for all of these flowers. If you want to plant the sides too, we recommend an extra 5 or 6 plants for around the sides. This will ensure that they don’t get tangled. 

Hanging baskets do come in lots of different sizes and designs, some even have plastic clips with holes around the sides that pop out so you can insert the plants, this makes it easier to buy the right amount of plants. The numbers above are just a guide and it takes a little common sense too.

Check out my recent guide where I plant up some new wall troughs here

Planting Methods

No matter the size there are two ways that you can plant inside of your hanging baskets. The first is to place your plants over the basket allowing them to cascade over the sides, this works well when planting just trailers or using one type of plant such as petunias, trailing begonias or bacopa.

The second is to place a nice centrepiece such as a larger geranium or even a smaller conifer in the middle of the basket and then dot smaller trailing plants along the edges. If you have a multitude of plants it is best to put the brightest colours in the middle as a focal point with white flowers or light green colours along the perimeter.

After you have decided upon the placement of your flowers add plenty of potting compost over the roots before you hang the basket. We recommend using good quality compost designed for hanging baskets and also adding some water-retaining crystals to the compost and keeping them well watered and deadhead the spent flowers regularly.

Products that might come in useful

YouGarden BOGOF Easy Fill Hanging Basket - 15 Inch (2 baskets)
  • Set of 2
  • Easy to use Hanging Basket
  • Creates 'flower ball' effect'
  • Removable panels for planting up
  • 36cm/15inches in size
Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Plant Food Gel 250g
  • Save time and reduce the amount you need to water your plants
  • Crystals absorb up to 150 times weight in water, releasing as plants need it
  • Works all season, simply mix into compost
  • Ideal for pots, tubs and hanging baskets inside and out
  • Sufficient for 15-20 average size (30 cm) containers or baskets

Related articles

Some of our favourite trailing plants to use in hanging baskets

The best plants for hanging baskets

The best winter plants for planting a hanging basket

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

Write A Comment