Blooming Plants that Flow Out of Containers

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

While tall plants that thrill the senses might be where you start with a container garden, they aren’t the most critical bloom in the pot. Plants that flow, spill and erupt out of your containers are the polished style that gives your gardens a professional look. This dynamic list of 14 plants will trail over the side of both raised beds, between rocks and bound out of containers for a stunning look this year. These are my favorites in alphabet order.

  • The best plants for containers. 
  • What are good trailing plants? 
  • Top 10 plants for containers. 
  • What types of flowers cascade? 
  • Flowers that bloom all year.  
  • The best hanging plants for the full sun?

Alyssum prefers high altitude gardens.  Alyssum doesn’t really trail as much as it gently flows over the top of your container gardens. It’s a very tidy plant with a beautiful honey scent.

Black Eyed Susan Vine is no relation to Rudbeckia, this vine is far more refined. With tiny 5-petal flowers in yellow, peach, or white, this grows into a jumble to find its way through, over, and under the other plants in your container, quickly filling any empty spaces.

Candytuft is hardy in zones 5 -9 and makes a beautiful ground cover. In the confinement of containers, it blooms its heart out, while covering the base of the container. It often comes back next year when planted it in the garden at the end of the season.

Fan flower is an evergreen tropical with thick green leaves and odd flowers that only have petals half-way around their center disks, giving them the shape of a fan. Their light purple color blends well in most any garden.

Clockwise: Blackeyed Susan Vine, Millionbells Petunia, Alyssum

Ivy Geraniums are the most popular container plants. The ivy form has smaller flowers but blooms just as abundantly as the upright form. Ivy geranium spill over the edge of your containers. Like its perpendicular relative, it can handle the heat and short periods of deep drought as well.

Licorice plant is grown for its small, felt-like leaves. The most familiar is a soft gray, but there are pretty variegated varieties as well. The stems grow up then tumble down, making both an elegant backdrop and frame for the other plants in your container.

Lobelia cascades in one of the most authentic blues found in the garden. It forms a stunning arch over your containers.  Keep it blooming with regular water and partial shade.

Million Bells Petunia is related to petunias, but the flowers are smaller. Don’t let the delicate nature of this plant fool you; it only seems like the plant is covered in millions of flowers, in reality, you can only expect thousands of flowers to cover this bloomer.  It has a graceful trailing habit.

Nasturtium form a mounding tumble of lily pad-like leaves and bright, cheerful flowers. Although they prefer the colder seasons, if kept watered, they should bloom all season. The entire plant is edible, including the seeds.

Parrot’s Beak is a tropical evergreen that is popular both as a houseplant and as an annual in containers. The common name refers to the unique look of the flowers. Parrot’s beak is excellent in hot weather. Both the foliage and the flowers stay fresh and attractive.

Clockwise: Petunia Wave, Verbena, Nasturtium

Sweet Potato Vines have become a garden staple as a ground cover and especially in containers. The leaves can be heart-shaped to oak-like. The choice of colors expands every year, from chartreuse to near black.  If you garden in containers, you need at least one of these bright colored vines.

Verbena bloom profusely in their first year. Although they are perennial, they tend to be short-lived, from expending so much energy on flowering. They love summer heat and mountain sun.

Vincas often used as a flowering ground cover, so it’s natural for trailing over the side of containers. The pretty purple or white blooms early when the gardens are still chilled, and few others are in bloom.  The foliage is a lush green and makes a beautiful frame for your container.

Wave Petunias just keep getting better. They are such an improvement over the old-fashioned petunias your grandmother grew.  They no longer turn to mush after monsoon rains and never need pinching and deadheading to stay in flower. Wave petunias spread out and down and flower without any effort from their gardener all season long.

Insider Tip – consistent water is the secret to great flowers.  If your bloomers get even a bit dry, they sacrifice flowers to keep the core of the plant health.  Add Aqua Boost Crystals at the soil level to keep plants evenly moist and continually blooming.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of ‘Aqua Boost Crystals’ at the bottom of each planting hole.  These exceptionally absorbent crystals regulate the moisture to each plant, encouraging more profound root growth for longer lasting flowers in containers and raised beds.  I never plant without a little Aqua Boost for each new plant in the garden.      

Pinterest Board of these flowers in containers and more.  Enjoy!

Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners with container gardens here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .