Gorgeous Cascading Plants for Retaining Walls and Hanging Baskets

If you’re looking to add a touch of natural beauty to your garden walls, rock walls, or hanging baskets, cascading plants are the perfect choice. These lovely plants spill gracefully over edges, creating a waterfall effect that adds a unique charm to any landscape.

Whether you have low retaining walls or taller structures, cascading plants are versatile and easy to care for, making them an excellent option for gardeners of all skill levels.

In this article, we’ll explore how to choose the right plants for your retaining walls and hanging baskets, and we’ll list 15 stunning cascading plants that thrive in various conditions.

ivy growing around blue shutters
Table of Contents

    How to Choose Cascading Plants for Retaining Walls and Hanging Baskets

    Before selecting cascading plants for your retaining walls and hanging baskets, consider the following factors:

    • Sunlight: Determine the amount of sunlight your chosen location receives. Some cascading plants thrive in full sun, while others prefer partial shade.
    • Soil Type: Check if your soil is well-draining and whether it’s sandy or rich in organic matter. Different plants have varying soil preferences.
    • Climate: Consider your climate, as some cascading plants are more suitable for warm climates, while others can tolerate colder temperatures.
    • Watering Needs: Assess your irrigation system and how often you can water the plants. Some cascading plants are drought-tolerant, while others require regular watering.
    • Height and Spread: Measure the space available on your retaining walls or hanging baskets to ensure the plants have enough room to grow.

    Now that you know how to choose the right plants, let’s explore 15 stunning cascading options for your garden!

    Stunning Cascading Plants for Retaining Walls and Hanging Baskets

    Wave Petunia cascading plant for walls or hanging baskets

    Wave Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

    • Description: Wave petunias are popular for their showy flowers that come in various colors, creating a vibrant display.
    • Spread: 3-4 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil

    English Ivy (Hedera helix)

    • Description: With its evergreen foliage and climbing vine nature, English Ivy is an excellent choice for covering walls.
    • Spread: Up to 50 feet (as a ground cover)
    • Height: Up to 80 feet (as a climber)
    • Conditions: Part shade to full sun, well-drained soil
    old stone buildings with ivy growing on them
    Cascading plants sweet potato vine

    Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)

    • Description: This fast-growing vine has attractive, colorful foliage that cascades beautifully over walls and baskets.
    • Spread: 3-6 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil

    Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

    • Description: Virginia Creeper boasts stunning red foliage in the fall, making it a perfect choice for colder climates.
    • Spread: Up to 50 feet
    • Height: Up to 50 feet
    • Conditions: Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil
    Cascading plant Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus_quinquefolia
    cascading plants Dichondra_'Silver_Falls' in a hanging basket

    Silver Falls (Dichondra argentea)

    • Description: Silver Falls has silvery, cascading leaves that give any wall or basket an elegant touch.
    • Spread: 2-3 feet
    • Height: 3-6 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to light shade, well-drained soil

    Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia)

    • Description: Creeping Jenny forms a dense mat of tiny leaves with vibrant yellow flowers, perfect for rock walls and baskets.
    • Spread: 2-3 feet
    • Height: 2-4 inches
    • Conditions: Partial shade to full sun, well-drained soil
    Moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia, Goldilocks plants and yellow flowers lie on sundstone in the garden. Perennial herb with creeping shoots.
    golden creeping jenny, scientific name Lysimachia nummularia, in a cache-pot against a white brick wall.

    Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)

    • Description: This low-growing perennial features striking golden leaves and small yellow flowers.
    • Spread: 2-3 feet
    • Height: 2-4 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil

    Ivy-Leaf Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum)

    • Description: Ivy-leaf geraniums have trailing stems with bright green leaves and clusters of pink, red, or white flowers.
    • Spread: 1-3 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil
    Cascading plants for stone walls Blooming pink ivy geranium pelargonium, vertical design of landscaping of streets and parks. Beautiful large pelargonium geranium cranesbill flowers.
    Cascading plants spur flower Plectranthus verticillatus

    Spur Flowers (Plectranthus)

    • Description: Spur flowers have attractive foliage and produce cascading clusters of tiny flowers in various colors.
    • Spread: 2-3 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil

    Rock Cress (Aubrieta deltoidea)

    • Description: Rock cress has stunning bluish-purple flowers that form a dense, colorful carpet on walls.
    • Spread: 1-2 feet
    • Height: 4-6 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil
    Cascading plant rock cress Aubrieta_deltoidea
    Scaevola aemula / Fächerblume or fan flower

    Fan Flower (Scaevola aemula)

    • Description: Fan flowers produce beautiful clusters of blue, pink, or white flowers with fan-shaped petals.
    • Spread: 1-3 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil

    Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortune)

    • Description: Wintercreeper is an evergreen groundcover plant with leathery green leaves that turn purplish in winter.
    • Spread: 5-8 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
    Cascading plants winter creeper Euonymus_fortunei_
    Cascading plant strawberry Fragaria_vesca_-_metsmaasikas

    Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

    • Description: Alpine strawberries have small, sweet fruits and lush green leaves that create a charming display.
    • Spread: 1-2 feet
    • Height: 6-12 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil

    Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

    • Description: Creeping thyme is a low-growing perennial with tiny aromatic leaves and clusters of pink flowers.
    • Spread: 1-3 feet
    • Height: 2-4 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil
    Blooming creeping thyme on a grey stone in the summer Crimean mountains
    cascading plants Bacopa sutera cordata

    Bacopa (Sutera cordata)

    • Description: Bacopa features dainty, trailing stems covered with small white or pink flowers.
    • Spread: 1-2 feet
    • Height: 4-8 inches
    • Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil

    Caring for Cascading Plants

    Cascading plants are generally low-maintenance, but proper care is essential to ensure their health and beauty. Here are some valuable tips to keep your cascading plants thriving:

    Watering: Provide consistent watering to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Check the soil regularly and adjust the watering schedule based on weather conditions and plant needs.

    Fertilization: Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and frequency.

    Pruning: Regularly trim back overgrown or leggy stems to encourage bushier growth and maintain the plant’s shape. Pinching off spent flowers can also stimulate more blooms.

    Deadheading: Remove faded or spent flowers to redirect the plant’s energy into new flower production.

    cascading plants Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefoliar

    Beware of Invasive Plants

    While cascading plants can add beauty and charm to your garden, it’s essential to be cautious about the selection of species to prevent the introduction of invasive plants. Invasive plants are non-native species that spread aggressively, outcompeting native plants and causing ecological imbalances. They can quickly take over garden beds, rock walls, and natural habitats, leading to serious environmental and economic consequences.

    To safeguard your garden and the surrounding ecosystem, avoid planting invasive cascading plants. Instead, opt for native or non-invasive species that are better suited to the local environment.

    Some of the cascading plants shared above are on this invasive species list. Before adding any cascading plant to your garden, research its invasive status in your region and consult with local gardening experts or extension services for advice. Native plants are generally a safer choice, as they have co-evolved with the local environment and provide essential habitat and food sources for native wildlife.

    Here are some popular cascading plants that are considered invasive in certain regions:

    1. English Ivy (Hedera helix): English Ivy, while beloved for its elegant appearance, is considered invasive in many areas, particularly in North America. It can smother and harm native plants and trees, leading to a decline in local biodiversity.
    2. Vinca (Vinca minor): Also known as Periwinkle, Vinca is a popular ground cover, but it has a tendency to spread rapidly, especially in woodland areas, and can outcompete native vegetation.
    3. Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria): This beautiful plant with tall spikes of purple flowers is considered invasive in wetlands and can disrupt natural ecosystems.
    4. Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica): Japanese Knotweed is notorious for its rapid growth and destructive nature, damaging building foundations, roads, and waterways.
    5. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia): Although there are non-invasive cultivars of Creeping Jenny, the species Lysimachia nummularia can become invasive and crowd out native plants if not carefully managed.

    In case you have invasive plants already established in your garden, consider implementing eradication measures to prevent further spread. Removing invasive plants responsibly and replacing them with non-invasive alternatives can contribute to the conservation of your local ecosystem.

    By being mindful of invasive plants, you can enjoy the beauty of cascading plants while also contributing to the preservation of your region’s natural biodiversity and ecological balance.

    Companion Planting with Cascading Plants

    Companion planting is a strategic way to enhance the beauty and functionality of cascading plants. Consider the following companion plants that complement cascading varieties:

    • Tall Upright Plants: Plant tall, upright species like ornamental grasses, salvia, or tall flowering perennials behind cascading plants to create a dynamic layered effect.
    • Trailing Vines: Combine cascading plants with trailing vines like Creeping Fig or Trailing Verbena to create a lush, multi-dimensional display.
    • Contrasting Foliage: Pair cascading plants with contrasting foliage colors and textures, such as succulents or hostas, to add visual interest.

    cascading plants on a stone wall

    Dealing with Common Issues with Cascading Plants

    Pests: Keep an eye out for common garden pests like aphids or spider mites. Consider using natural insecticidal soaps or neem oil for mild infestations.

    Diseases: Prevent disease by ensuring good air circulation around plants and avoiding overwatering. If disease strikes, use appropriate fungicides following label instructions.

    Soil Improvement: If you have heavy or poorly draining soil, consider amending it with organic matter like compost to improve drainage.

    Austrian window boxes overflowing with flowers

    Design Ideas for Retaining Walls and Hanging Baskets

    Theme Gardens: Create themed cascading gardens, such as a vibrant butterfly garden with colorful cascading plants that attract butterflies, or a serene Zen garden with calming, cascading water-like plants.

    Color Schemes: Experiment with different color combinations to evoke specific moods or themes. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow can create an energetic and lively atmosphere, while cool colors like blue and purple can add a sense of calmness.

    Seasonal Displays: Plan for cascading plants that bloom at different times of the year to ensure continuous beauty throughout the seasons.

    bellflowers cascading ona rock wall

    Container Selection and Maintenance

    Choosing Containers: Select containers that match your garden’s style and size. Ensure they have adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

    Watering and Feeding: Container plants require more frequent watering and feeding compared to those in the ground. Check the moisture level regularly and adjust watering accordingly.

    Winter Protection: In colder climates, move hanging baskets indoors or provide protective coverings for container plants to protect them from harsh winter conditions.

    Propagation Techniques for Cascading Plants

    From Cuttings: Propagate cascading plants through stem cuttings. Take a 4-6 inch cutting from a healthy plant, remove the lower leaves, and plant it in a well-draining soil mix. Keep the soil lightly moist until roots develop.

    From Division: Some cascading plants, like Creeping Jenny, can be divided into smaller sections and replanted to propagate new plants.

    Using Cascading Plants for Erosion Control

    Cascading plants are excellent for erosion control on slopes and hillsides due to their ability to form dense mats that stabilize the soil. Some top choices for erosion control include Creeping Thyme, Creeping Jenny, and Rock Cress.

    Cascading plants are the perfect addition to your garden walls, retaining walls, and hanging baskets. Their graceful growth habit and stunning foliage or flowers create a captivating waterfall effect that enhances the overall beauty of your outdoor space.

    Whether you’re looking for vibrant colors, interesting foliage, or low-maintenance options, there’s a wide variety of cascading plants to choose from.

    By selecting the right plants based on sunlight, soil, and climate conditions, you can enjoy a lush and charming garden all year round. So, go ahead and explore the world of cascading plants to find the perfect ones that suit your personal preferences and make your garden walls truly spectacular. Happy gardening!

    FAQs About How to Choose Cascading Plants for Retaining Walls and Hanging Baskets

    Q: What is the best to plant by a retaining wall?

    A: The best plants for retaining walls are cascading plants like Wave Petunias, Silver Falls, and Creeping Jenny. They cover the wall beautifully and prevent soil erosion.

    Q: What are cascading plants called?

    A: Cascading plants are also known as trailing plants or spiller plants because of their graceful growth habit that spills over edges.

    Q: What are creeping plants for rock walls?

    A: Creeping plants for rock walls include Rock Cress, Creeping Jenny, and Creeping Thyme, among others. They create a charming and colorful display on rocky surfaces.

    Q: What cascading plants take full sun?

    A: Cascading plants that thrive in full sun include Wave Petunias, Sweet Potato Vine, Fan Flower, and Bacopa.

    Q: What are the longest-lasting retaining walls?

    A: Retaining walls made of concrete blocks or stone are among the longest-lasting options, providing stability and durability.

    Q: Will Creeping Jenny cascade over a wall?

    A: Yes, Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a vigorous grower and will beautifully cascade over a wall or container.

    Q: What is a very good example of creeping plants?

    A: Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is an excellent example of a creeping plant. It forms a dense mat of tiny leaves and produces clusters of pink flowers.

    Q: What is the difference between creeping and climbing plants?

    A: Creeping plants spread horizontally along the ground or over walls, while climbing plants use their specialized structures (such as tendrils or aerial roots) to ascend vertical surfaces.

    Q: What plants can you put in a rock wall?

    A: For a rock wall, consider planting Rock Cress, Creeping Jenny, Creeping Thyme, and Alpine Strawberry. These plants thrive in well-drained soil and can withstand rocky conditions.

    Success Stories and Testimonials

    From an experienced gardener:

    “In my garden, I combined the vibrant blooms of Wave Petunias with the trailing elegance of Silver Falls to create a stunning display on my retaining wall. The contrasting colors and textures have turned this previously bland wall into a focal point of my garden.”

    Testimonial from a reader:

    “After following the article’s advice on caring for cascading plants, my hanging baskets filled with Sweet Potato Vine have never looked better! They add a touch of elegance to my patio, and I can’t wait to explore more cascading plant options in my future garden projects.”

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