We are often asked for recommendations for trailing, flowering perennials that can handle direct sun, for hanging pots or wall planters. Here are some suggestions:

Callibrachoa - illustration by Helen KrayenhoffThe hands-down favorite among the staff is Lotus maculatus. The fluffy, silvery foliage looks delicate but, fortunately, it is not, and it cascades beautifully. In late spring, the plant explodes with bright flowers that look like a cross between a flaming match head and a parrot’s beak. They are unusual and delightful. The plant has a wispy, airy appearance. It uses little water once established and is easy to grow.

Second on everyone’s list is Calibrachoa. The variety of colors! The almost constant blooming! The foliage is sturdy enough to jut out a bit before succumbing to gravity and hanging down. The bell-shaped flowers come in a riot of colors; some are demure, many are showy. Some flowers are bicolor, some tricolor, some are speckled, some are striped, and some almost shimmer in the sun. With veined petals (sometimes in complementary colors, sometimes in contrasting colors) and deep centers, each flower provides a lot of color depth in a small package. Favorites include the perky yellow and white ‘Lemon Slice’, the fiery orange ‘Tangerine Punch’ and ‘Crackling Fire’, the painterly ‘Holy’ series (like ‘Holy Cow’ and ‘Holy Smokes’) and iridescent colors like ‘Cabaret Deep Blue’. Best of all with Calibrachoa, the spent flowers fall off quickly, so no deadheading is required. Calibrachoa is a full, bushy plant.

Verbena ranked 3rd in popularity, for its bursting clusters of flowers and exceptional heat hardiness. Sutera (Bacopa) is another good perennial for direct sun, offering prolific blooms in a variety of colors. For succulent lovers, the top choice is Portulaca. The abundant plump, fleshy leaves are edged in pink. The flowers, mostly in pinks, yellows, and reds, are stout and bright. Portulaca is easy to grow, easy to maintain, and uses very little water once established. This is a full, chunky plant. Delosperma is a great succulent. It is a lanky, trailing, elegant plant with light green leaves and reddish stems, covered in daisy-like flowers that burst from the plant like fireworks. Like all succulents, it is a drought-friendly plant requiring little water.