tips + how-tos

planting hanging baskets for the shade

hanging baskets for the shade

Having a beautiful porch lined with lush plants in hanging baskets can easily become the backdrop to a perfect summer hang out. To get a great effect, it takes plenty of hanging baskets, and the costs can quickly add up. Creating your plant filled oasis can be that much tougher if it’s filled with shade.

Luckily, to create a thriving shade hanging basket, it’s all about picking the right plants. One of the most adaptable and vigorous plants for hanging baskets are shade loving ferns, like the Boston fern, which is a tropical sword fern. Boston ferns have a great texture and will quickly fill out. Plus, it’s very easy to divide one large plant into many small plants saving lots of money.

They can be purchased at most nurseries during the spring and summer months as oversized hanging baskets. We found a large Boston fern for $10 and the hanging coco basket for $7 all at Home Depot. To give it a trailing effect, add plants like fig vine, creeping jenny, or ivy that will spill out the sides and vine out.

planting a fern hanging basket for the shade

hanging baskets for the shade


2-4 hanging baskets
1 large boston fern 
2-3 creeping fig vine or creeping jenny  per basket 
potting soil

planting fern hanging baskets for shade

Divide the Boston fern.
Remove the fern from the plastic nursery pot. Decide how many plants you want to divide it into. We kept our ferns fairly large since we only had 2 hanging baskets to fill, but the mother fern could have easily been divided into 3 or 4. Part the fern fronds to the left and right of where you plan to divide.

Loosen the roots and soil some with your hands. Then, take a knife and delicately begin to slice from the top down through the roots splitting the plant in two.dividing a boston fern


Set up your hanging baskets.
Place one of the Boston ferns into the center of the first hanging basket. Add potting soil to the basket working it under and around the roots. Keep adding soil under the fern until it sits about an inch below the rim of the basket.


Then, add in the vining plants around the sides. I delicately split up our fig vine and spread the smaller plants equally around the edge of the hanging basket.

dividing a fig vine

Add the rest of the potting soil.
Work the soil into into the roots. Cover the surface of the roots bringing the level of the soil up to about ½” of the basket rim. Plant up the rest of the hanging baskets the same way.


Water the baskets in.
Soak the hanging basket until water pours out of the bottom and gently rinse off any dirt on the leaves. Once they quit dripping, hang them up and enjoy.


To keep them up, I decide when to water them by gently lifting the hanging basket to check the weight of the pot every day. On days that the fern hanging baskets feel light, they get watered until it pours out of the bottom. The hanging baskets should be fertilized weekly with liquid fertilizer to keep them thriving.

These Boston ferns and fig ivy love it in the shade. They will quickly fill out the baskets with foliage spilling over the sides. Everyone should continue to be happy and healthy until the winter weather rolls in. Because the Boston ferns can’t take the cold temperatures, these guys will be coming inside. Check back this fall to learn how to get your Boston fern ready for an indoor winter.

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