It may be hard to pass up those cheery flowering hanging baskets, but there are some really neat foliage plants that have been basket favorites for years. And unlike flowering baskets (which often require deadheading or some intense ground cleanup of spent blooms), baskets overflowing with foliage are pretty low-maintenance (not to mention just pretty), and they’re great for shady areas. And we can’t forget the great colors – purple, green and variegated leaves definitely have merits of their own.

Bolivian Jew plant

When grown in a hanging basket, Bolivian Jew resembles a green beehive.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Bridal Veil plant

Dainty white flowers nicely accent the gorgeous green foliage of bridal veil.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Spider plant

The little plantlets on spider plant are easy to root for more to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Spider plant with birds nest

In just two weeks after this spider plant hanging basket was hung, a bird built a nest and laid eggs in it – proving that even our feathered friends like a home with a beautiful “yard.”

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Swedish Ivy plant

This green Swedish ivy cascades beautifully over its pot’s edge.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Wandering Jew plant

The striking foliage of wandering Jew makes the plant a winner for hanging baskets!

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

The following foliage plants are great for hanging out:

Bolivian Jew (Callisia repens): Many folks associate the look of this plant (when in a basket) with a beehive or a ball. Its tiny, compact leaves practically cover the branches as they cascade wonderfully over a hanging basket. A fast grower, the plant can add on as much as 3-4 feet in length in a single season. It’s easy to root and can be moved indoors for winter.

Bridal veil (Gibasis geniculata): Okay, this isn’t just a foliage plant – but the tiny white flowers that cover it aren’t big impact blooms. They’re delicate and airy, much like a bride’s veil that lightly conceals her face. The neatest features are the leaves, which are olive green on top and purple underneath, creating a jewel tone effect as the fine-textured branches cascade over the basket. The plant thrives in indirect light (such as on a porch) through summer and can be pruned back and kept indoors through the winter. If you need to shape it up, don’t be afraid to cut back the long mass of branches. In fact, bridal veil roots easily in water or soil, so you can use those clippings to share this beauty with a friend.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum): The spider plant is just attractive and fun! The green and white variegated leaf blades spike upward and then arch over the basket, providing a lovely habit. But the real treat is when the wiry branches produce “baby spiders.” These young plantlets can enhance your hanging basket or be removed with a firm yank and rooted in a new pot. (You can usually already see the roots forming on the plantlet when it’s still attached to the mother plant.) And of course, you can hang this beauty inside and enjoy it over winter.

Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis): The white flower spikes of Swedish ivy are attractive, but they’re not an appreciated feature of this foliage favorite. The beauty of this green gem is really found in its round, scalloped leaves that cascade over a basket. If all the green is too “plain Jane” for your taste, consider the variegated or purple Swedish ivy for your foliage pleasure. When you bring this one indoors for winter, you’ll notice new leaves will seem petite compared with what new growth was outside. That’s a consequence of lower light conditions, but the plant will thrive just fine with sufficient watering.

Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina): While wandering Jew is a cousin to the Bolivian Jew, its habit is quite different. This fast-growing beauty has large, glossy leaves that cascade over a basket to form a foliage column. Purple and green variegation is the most commonly available, but you can also find green and white, purple and white, and many shades of each combination. Yes, there are small, pinkish-purple flowers that appear, but they’re inconspicuous for the most part. This foliage favorite also roots easily and can be moved indoors through the winter. And if you happen to forget about it for a while, it’ll forgive you. The plant can withstand some neglect, bouncing back with a thorough watering.

So while those beautiful blooming baskets may lure you in, don’t forget these sturdy, stunning standbys. Not only are they great for shady areas, you can bring them inside and enjoy them year-round – a benefit most flowering baskets can’t offer. (And who said foliage isn’t fun?)