What Are The Best Spiller Annuals For Containers?

There is nothing more captivating than a garden with hanging baskets, window boxes, or containers overflowing with beautiful foliage and flowers. 

Combining the textures and colors of different annuals trailing down the edge instantly enhances the beauty of any landscape. 

Annual Petunias spilling over the edge of a terra cotta potPin
Petunias spilling over the edge of a potted container garden

If you want to grow trailing annuals in your garden, here is a list of plants which will thrive in containers and planters:

Geraniums, Trailing Varieties

The brightly colored and fast-growing trailing geraniums make a perfect hanging basket or container plants. 

Flowering Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium Peltatum)Pin

The geraniums are native to South Africa and belong to the Geraniaceae family. 

Due to their prolific growing habits, they have the ability to dramatically spread to around 6′ feet wide. 

Vibrant flowers grace the plants throughout the summer season. 

Variegated Cuban Oregano (Coleus Amboinicus ‘Variegatus’)

This plant belongs to the mint family and is native to eastern and southern Africa. 

Coleus amboinicus variegataPin

Some varieties of this plant have light-green leaves, and others have green, variegated leaves with white-colored edging. 

The flower colors include blue, lavender, and white. 

This semi-succulent has fleshy stems and leaves and prefers to grow under the full sun. 

Avoid overwatering this plant and let the potting mixture dry out before you water.

Related: Growing the Mayana plant (Rainbow Coleus)

Licorice Plant (Helichrysum Petiolatum) 

This plant is one of the favorite annuals of many gardeners due to its felt-like, frosted leaves, moderate growth, and trailing habit. 

Helichrysum petiolatum or licorice plantPin
Helichrysum petiolatum – licorice green silver plant

Even though the licorice plant isn’t large, it still creates a substantial effect in the garden. 

It not only makes an excellent groundcover, but its trailing habit makes it perfect for planting along the edge. 

The USDA hardiness zones of this plant are between 9 and 11, but it may be used as annual elsewhere. 

Use it to create softness to a combination of plants, particularly the ones with beautiful pastel-colored flowers.

Littleleaf Helichrysum (Helichrysum Minus)

Helichrysum Minus belongs to the Asteraceae family and looks beautiful, growing in a mass planting. 

It has silvery and soft foliage with a rapid growth habit, making it ideal for growing along the edge. 

To create a soothing aesthetic, combine it with annuals with bright flowers.

Grow it in a well-draining potting mix, under the full sun for optimal growth. 

It has the ability to tolerate poor soils as long as it has a proper drainage system. 

Its attractive foliage looks stunning trailing over the edge, mainly when it produces white flowers during the summer season.

Trailing Verbena

The creeping trailing Verbena plant has a vigorous growth habit and produces large pink flowers throughout the blooming season. 

Flowers of the Trailing Verbena variety - Verbena canadensisPin

It is an ideal plant for landscaping, window boxes, hanging baskets, and mass planting. 

Make sure the plants have a proper drainage system to encourage continuous blooms. 

Verbena plants are drought tolerant, making them an excellent option for rock gardens as well. 

These plants also attract butterflies, making the garden livelier. 

Fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) 

Fleabane is a genus of plants in the Aster family and native to Mexico. 

These plants have distinctive-looking narrow petals around a bright center. 

Colorful blooms of the Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron Karvinskianus)Pin

Erigeron karvinskianus is aesthetically pleasing and charming with small whitish-pink flowers and beautiful foliage. 

The leaves are narrow and have hair all over. 

It creates a stunning look as it trails down the side of a wall or spills over the edge of containers or hanging baskets. 

It also looks good as a ground cover or border plant. 

This drought-tolerant plant is used for ornamental purposes as it adds a unique form and texture to any landscape. 

Polka-Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya’ White Splash’ and ‘Pink Splash’) 

The Polka-Dot plant Hypoestes belongs in the Acanthaceae family and is native to South East Asia, Madagascar, and South Africa. 

It is a common houseplant with stunning foliage. 

These plants have been hybridized to create a range of vibrant colors and leaf spotting. 

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya)Pin

In its native environment, this plant grows around 3′ feet tall. 

However, they are small when growing in pots. 

These plants look stunning, spilling over the edge of a container or wall with their distinctive colors and texture. 

Some varieties have a pink colored base and large dark-green spots, others have mottled green spots, and some have different hues of spotting. 

Scaevola (Scaevola Aemula’ Blue Wonder’)

The Scaevola plant is a herbaceous annual is native to Australia and loves growing in sunny conditions. 

It is also tolerant of partial shade. 

Close up of blooming Fan FlowerPin

This plant is ideal for growing in borders and beds, and along the edges. 

During the spring and summer seasons, it produces a blanket of blue, purple tiny flowers with yellow throats. 

It has a trailing habit and gradually starts to spill over the edges of containers. 

It’s fine-textured foliage sets it apart from other plants.

The best thing about this plant is it doesn’t require much upkeep and maintenance. 

Just deadhead the flowers to encourage continuous blooms and remove dead or wilting leaves as necessary. 

Swan River Daisy (Brachycome Iberidifolia)

This colorful, drought-tolerant annual belongs in the Asteraceae family and grows well in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10. 

This plant grows around 9″ to 15″ inches tall and produces daisy flowers. 

The color of the fragrant flowers varies from shades of blue, white, purple, and mauve surrounding disc florets with brown, yellow, or black shades. 

It is a popular choice for hanging baskets, along edges, rockeries, borders, and beds. 

Narrowleaf Zinnia (Zinnia Angustifolia) 

The bushy annual Zinnia grows 8″ to 16″ inches high on long hairy stems and is native to western and southern Mexico. 

They are also neutralized in different areas of the southwest U.S.

Bright flowers of the Mexican Zinnia (Zinnia haageana)Pin

It produces daisy-like, single flowers in the summer season. 

The flowers are usually bright orange, but other cultivars produce white, pink, yellow, red, and bicolor. 

These plants are drought tolerant and deer resistant. 

Nasturtium Alaska Series

Annual Nasturtium are easy to grow and are highly prevalent in flower gardens. 

It is a fast-growing flowering plant with a sprawling or climbing vine characteristics. 

Its semi-succulent leaves are edible.

The bright trailing foliage and vibrant flower colors make an excellent option for ground cover, containers, and hanging baskets. 

Orange Nasturtium flowersPin

The flowers are either double or single and 2″ inches wide. 

The sweet fragrance of the flowers makes them ideal for cut flowers. 

Leave the seeds to dry on the vines, collect them when they fall, dry them and replant them during the spring season in a dark and cool place.

Variegated Licorice Plant (Helichrysum Petiolatum ‘Harlequin’)

The Licorice plant belongs in the Asteraceae family and is native to South Africa. 

This plant is popular for its distinctive foliage. 

Its small leaves are grayish-green with buttery yellow, showy variegation. 

The plant has a trailing or mound-forming habit.

The plant produces cream-colored flowers throughout the summer and fall season. 

However, this plant is mostly grown for its foliage as it provides a contrasting texture and color to mixed planters. 

It is a low maintenance plant and only requires pruning. It is deer resistant. 

Variegated Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus Oertendahlii ‘Variegatus’)

The Plectranthus oertendahlii (Emerald Green Swedish Ivy) is herbaceous annual that is an excellent plant for beginners and is the easiest ivy plant to grow. 

flowering Plectranthus ortendahliiPin
image via wikimedia commons

It belongs to the Lamiaceae family and is native to South Africa. 

This plant has a trailing growth habit and has the tendency to spill over the edges of the containers and hanging baskets. 

It has thick stems, which initially grow upright and then spills over the sides of the container. 

Its cascading stems look beautiful in hanging baskets and window boxes. 

During the spring and summer season, the plant produces white or lavender flowers. 

However, the foliage is showier than the blooms. 

Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) ‘Carousel’ Verbena

The trailing Lantana plant belongs to the Verbenaceae family and is native to South America’s subtropical regions.

Blooms of the Purple Trailing LantanaPin

This spreading shrub grows 12″ to 18″ inches tall and 5′ to 10′ feet wide. 

It has dark green foliage with showy white or purple flowers during the summer and fall seasons. 

It looks stunning, cascading over hanging baskets, containers, and raised beds. 

It is also useful for erosion control on slopes, hillsides, and parkways. 

This plant is extremely drought and heat tolerant. 


One of the popular flowering plants for containers and borders, Petunia plants are native to Argentina and belong to the family of Solanaceae.

Colorful Blooms of Wave PetuniasPin

These plants are prolific bloomers, but deadheading is recommended for some forms to encourage blooms. 

The majority of petunia species produce flowers all through the summer except in harsh warm weather. 

The flowers are large and trumpet-shaped, while the foliage is sticky and hairy. 

The plant looks stunning in hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers due to its trailing habit. 

These plants were initiated from Petunia x hybrid and were hybridized for producing blowsy, large flowers in a range of beautiful patterns and colors. 

Purple Heart (Setcreasea Pallida ‘Purple Heart’)

The purple heart plant is a trailing annual with violet-purple leaves and purple stems. 

Pallida Tradescantia aka Purple Heart PlantPin

During the summer season, the plant produces pink flowers. 

However, it is mostly grown for its beautiful foliage. 

The leaves grow about 7″ inches long, and the plant grows 8″ to 12″ inches high and spreads about 16″ inches.

This plant is native to northeast Mexico and belongs in the Commelinaceae family. 

It has a low-growing trailing habit when growing in the hardiness zones 7 to 10. 

Be sure to grow it under the full sun in the moist potting mixture. 

Keep in mind, the stems are fragile and may easily break off when handled harshly. 

The plant may start dying back to the ground during winters in the cold areas. 

However, it will grow back during the spring season. 

Spanish-Shawl (Heterocentron Elegans)

The Spanish Shawl plant belongs to the Melastomataceae family and is native to Central America. 

Heterocentron elegans- Spanish Shawl (Trailing Dwarf Tibouchina)Pin

Although this plant looks simple when not blooming, it becomes a showstopper once it produces its large flowers. 

This trailing plant is ideal for ground cover and looks stunning in hanging baskets and containers. 

The colors of the flowers vary from mauve to magenta flowers, creating a breathtaking display in any landscape.

It has the ability to grow vigorously when it is properly watered. 

If the garden has an overhead sprinkler or the plants are hand-watered, this plant fills each and every available space rapidly. 

In sparingly watered gardens, it grows in compact clumps. 

Vinca, Carpet Series (Catharanthus Rosea) 

The flowering Catharanthus Rosea plant species are native to Madagascar and belong to the Apocynaceae family. 

It is also grown in other places as a medicinal and ornamental plant. 

Formerly, it belonged to the Vinca genus. 

This evergreen, trailing plant grows about 3′ feet high and 3′ feet wide. 

colorful purple pink blooms of the trailing VincaPin

The leaves are glossy, broad, and oblong shaped, whereas the flowers have a dark red center and dark pink or white petals. 

It is best to grow this plant in partial shade or the full sun to produce optimal blooms. 

It is recommended to provide it with some shade for a few hours every day throughout the summer season. 

Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida)

The Chenille plant is a flowering plant belongs in the Acalypha genus and Euphorbiaceae family. 

It is native to Oceania and Hawaii. 

Acalypha HispidaPin

When grown in ideal conditions, this plant grows about 15′ feet long and 8′ feet wide. 

It thrives in humid and hot climates. 

The plant not only has stunning foliage, but the red flowers are beautiful! 

It is popularly used as an ornamental trailing plant as it has the ability to spill over the edges, making it ideal for growing in hanging baskets and containers. 

However, it also looks impressive as a ground cover and as an accent plant. 

Dahlberg Daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba) 

This flowering, multi-branched annual belongs to the Asteraceae family and is native to northern Mexico and Texas. 

Bright yellow flowers of the Dahlberg DaisyPin

This is a drought-tolerant plant, producing cheerful, half an inch, and yellow flowers. 

The Dahlberg Daisy has a trailing habit and grows about 6″ to 8″ inches long. 

When bruised or crushed, the foliage produces a citrusy fragrance. 

The flowers are produced throughout the summer season. 

It also makes an excellent ground cover for a rock garden or growing between paving stones. 

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum ‘Variegatum’)

This plant belongs to the ‎‎Asparagaceae family and is native to southern Africa, but has been neutralized in other parts of the world. 

The spider plant is one of the easiest houseplants to grow as it tolerates a range of conditions. 

Spider plant growing in a potPin

It dangles down over the edge, looking like spiders crawling down a web. 

The plant is also available in variegated varieties. 

When the plant produces tiny white flowers, the trailing vines look more stunning. 

It is ideal for growing in hanging baskets and container displays.

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