Over the past few years, we have seen an emphasis on trailing plants being used as houseplants and also in containers.  We are going to focus on container plants this time.  Trailing plants are also referred to as “spillers”.  These plants tumble out of the container and add a decorative element.  Some of these plants are considered groundcovers but they also make excellent trailing plants.  If you are interested in trailing houseplants, next month we will feature some of those houseplants.

Here are eight of our favorite trailing plants:


We have written about this flower before.  It looks great in containers with other Calibrachoa or with Bidens, Osteospermum, and Verbena. This plant is also known as Million Bells and is a member of the Petunia family. The tiny trumpet-shaped flowers grow profusely in the summer months.  The plant comes in so many colors; there is certainly one to go along with any color scheme you are looking to grow.  The colors run from pastel to vibrant shades.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny is a versatile plant. It can be used as a groundcover or in containers. This is a plant my brother discovered a few years ago and this year he added it to some of his containers. I love the chartreuse color of the plant.  It is an evergreen perennial and a member of the Primulaceae family.  In the summer the plant will grow sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers.  Creeping Jenny does best in moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Make sure the soil does not dry out especially in the summer.  For better plant color, grow it in full sun.


I first saw this plant about four years ago and fell in love with it.  Happily, I found that my supplier started carrying this plant. I then introduced it to my brother and he now adds it to his containers every year.  Dichondra has tiny heart-shaped silver or green leaves.  This easy to care for warm perennial grows very quickly.  The color and the foliage of the plant will make it a great addition to any container combination.  It does well in cool coastal regions. It will grow in partial shade but does best in full sun. It is also used as a groundcover and has even been grown as a lawn.  Hardiness zones 7–11.

Ice Plant

I thought this plant looked great when I saw it growing in a container at a shopping center (see my photo on the left).   It is also called Delosperma and it is a sun-loving perennial. The plant has small bright flowers on succulent green foliage. The daisy-like flowers on this plant come in several brilliant colors including pink, purple and yellow.  Ice plants require a sunny location preferable getting 6 to 8 hours of sun a day.  It will tolerate partial shade but the blooms will not be as robust. Hardiness zones 5-9.  


Annual Lobelia has these beautiful blue flowers and is a popular plant for containers as it's trailing habit is ideal for hanging baskets and window boxes. It performs best in cooler temperatures and can stop blooming if the summer weather is too hot. Once cooler weather returns it will bloom again. Grow it in rich, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade conditions.  The plant will grow 2 to 4 feet tall and is a good companion with Bee Balm and Helenium.


Nasturtiums are an annual trailing plant that has bright cheerful flowers with lily pad-like leaves. The flowers are found in orange, red, and yellow. They prefer the cooler season. If you water them regularly you might be able to keep them blooming all season long.  The entire plant is edible and has a mild peppery taste. Why not try adding it to your salad? These plants can be grown with other vegetables in containers.

Sweet Potato Vine

There have been some new varieties of Sweet Potato Vines introduced the past few years that are great as container plants. Some of the plants have leaves that are heart-shaped. The plant colors have expanded from chartreuse to near black.  Sweet Potato Vine is a versatile plant and can be grown in the sun or shade. It is a traditional accent plant, but in containers, it can become a focal point.  When the plant is grown under ideal conditions it can be a vigorous grower.

Trailing Rosemary

This is another plant that has been grown as a groundcover. It is a tough plant and can grow well in poor soil conditions. This plant tolerates heat and strong sun as well as cold weather. The dark green leaves will grow 2 inches long and are rich in aromatic oils. The foliage has a wonderful pine-like scent.  From March to May the plant will produce small pale blue to white flowers.  This plant is quite drought-tolerant, requiring little water once established. If the plant is too dry it may yellow slightly.

If you have any favorite trailing plants, let us know.

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