Trailing plants, cascading plants, or spiller plants. No matter what you call them, these lovely growers are eye-catching and give an added element to plantings. Whether spreading out on the ground in the landscape, flowing over the side of a container, or the final spiller in a hanging basket, trailing plants are a must have for gardeners!
When to use trailing plants
For ground use, such as filling in flower beds and moving between pavers, these trailing plants work exceptionally well. And, by using trailing plants in your flower beds, you’ll be helping to choke out weeds which are always looking for an open spot. (You can also use my DIY Weed Killer if they’re a nuisance.)
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- Dichondra silver falls– Though this beauty can certainly be used in containers as well, Dichondra silver falls is a gorgeous perennial ground cover. And its versatility means it can also be grown indoors.
- Bacopa (Sutera cordata)- This lovely little annual comes in a variety of colors, such as purple, pink, blue, and white, and in recent years, its medicinal properties have become a pretty hot topic. As a trailing plant though, it has long been a favorite of gardeners. Perfect in a basket or in the landscape itself, bacopa brings a bright pop of color in a small package. Don’t worry about this one taking over your basket or flower bed.
- Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)- A beautiful ground cover that produces buttery yellow blooms in the summer, this perennial (in many zones) can even withstand a bit of foot traffic. Perfect for hanging baskets, draping itself over edges, or laying beneath shrubbery, golden creeping jenny is a hardy and lovely addition to flower beds. It can be invasive if not kept under control.
- Convolvulus sabatius (Ground Morning Glory)- Non-invasive and able to withstand high heat, convolvulus sabatius is a lovely ground cover or container addition. With beautiful foliage and blue blooms that are sure to impress, this lovely plant will soon be a favorite. It is an annual in colder climates, but will be able to grow year-round in warmer zones.
- Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox)- A ground cover or trailing plant that’s edible? Yes! Creeping thyme is wonderful for covering any ground that needs it, and its hardiness and purple blooms make it a vibrant, and useful, addition to the home landscape. It’s a perennial in most zones (4-9) and easy to maintain.
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)- This is one of my personal trailing plant favorites. We have several “built-in” flower boxes on our 1950’s ranch home, and creeping phlox has been the only plant that has hung in there and flourished. With beautiful purple blooms in spring, this low-lying cover grows over the side of any edges and is an incredibly low maintenance perennial.
Cascading Plants for Containers
Many of the cascading plants mentioned above are perfect for containers as well, but these next plants really are best in a hanging basket or a container that they can drape themselves over the side of.
- Sweet Potato Vine– This hardy colorful vine is not fit to be eaten, but it is simply beautiful. It’s a favorite spiller for many containers, including my own, and it can handle sun to part shade. The vines’ foliage ranges in color from deep purple to bright green and has beautiful purple blooms.
- Licorice Vine (Helichrysum petiolare)- Perfect for containers in full sun to part shade, this unique plant will provide a lovely cascade down the side of your planters or baskets. With it’s silvery leaves and “furry” feel, the leaves of the licorice vine and sure to add some color and texture to your plantings.
- Wave Petunia– This colorful favorite of nurseries and gardeners alike is a showstopper! With bold and bright colors and very little maintenance, the wave petunia is a trailing flower that is impressive and a delight!
- Verbena– These showy blooms come in a range of colors including purple, white, pink, and blue and are similar in shape to those on the creeping phlox. And while verbena can be used in the landscape, they are a wonderful addition to any container garden.
- Ivy Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum)– Though only really gaining in popularity in the United States in recent years, ivy geraniums have long graced the window boxes and containers of European homes. This show stopping and easy to maintain plant gives bright and bold color much like its well-loved cousin. There’s also no dead heading necessary for these blooms, but beware of full, hot sun, and keep them properly watered.
Scaevola (Fan Flower)– Just like the name implies, the blooms of the Scaevola form an intriguing fan shape and can be found in purple, white, pink, and blue. Preferring full to part sun, this Australian-native can tolerate warm temps and will bloom most of the summer.
Trailing Plants for Shade
Not all cascading plants are great in full or part sun. And many of us have areas of our yards where shade abounds, but a ground cover or shade loving container would be well suited. Here are some great picks for shade-loving trailing plants.
- Trailing Bacopa (Sutera cordata)- Bacopa has already been mentioned in our list above, but it also does well as a part-shade plant. Don’t put it in the darkest corner of your yard, but it can certainly take some shadier areas.
- English Ivy– Would any list of trailing plants be complete without ivy? Though it can become invasive if planted in the ground and not kept in check, it can also be used in containers in shady areas if you don’t want to worry about a takeover.
- Periwinkle (creeping vinca or myrtle)- While this lovely low-lying ground cover can thrive in part-shade. With it’s tiny flowers and low maintenance, the periwinkle is a great pick for shade-loving trailing plants.
- Dichondra Silver Falls- Though already mentioned above, the silver falls also works well in part shade.
- Creeping Jenny- Also mentioned above, Creeping Jenny works well in shade, especially as a filler between pavers in shady areas.
With all of these trailing plants to choose from, I wonder what you’ll be using in your flower beds and containers this year! Cascading plants make a huge impact in the home landscape and can give instant curb appeal. Comment below and let me know any trailing plants you love that I missed!
Interested in blooms that are wonderful for cutting? Check out my picks for a Gorgeous Cutting Garden!