Our favorite ways to use trailers singly and in mixed plantings

Lauren Bonar Swezey ,  – March 7, 2007

Trailing plants make good container gardens even better. Their long stems spill over pot edges and tumble down the sides, creating a drapery of foliage or flowers that dangles like a beaded curtain beneath upright plants.

Indispensable for a finished look in mixed plantings, most trailers have delicate foliage and diminutive flowers that complement larger, showier companions in the pot’s center; without them, living bouquets can appear unfinished, even bare. But you can also display young trailers (4-inch pot size) such as bacopa alone on patio tables.

Among the dozens of trailing plants that spark up potted gardens are those with leaves in shades of lime green to blue-green to silver, bronze, plum, and multicolored foliage. Add to these the numerous trailers that bear flowers in a wide range of soft pastels to vibrant colors such as sunny yellow, hot pink, and fiery orange, and your color and style options appear limitless.

20 trailers for sun and shade

For a mass of color, choose one of the flowering trailers listed below. For a more subtle effect, try one grown mostly for its foliage. Use two or three kinds of trailers to create a fringe of green around upright plants, or display them singly on a tabletop.

Sun worshippers


• Aptenia cordifolia
• Bacopa
• Calibrachoa
• Convolvulus sabatius ‘Blue Casbah’
• Diascia
• Sanvitalia procumbens
• Scaevola
• Trailing lobelia
• Trailing petunias


• Glechoma hederacea
• Ipomoea
• Plectranthus
• Sedum ‘Angelina’

Shade lovers


• Lamium ‘Pink Chablis’
• Torenia Summer Wave


• Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
• Lamium ‘Golden Anniversary’ and ‘Jade Frost’
• Lysimachia nummularia
• Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Troys Gold’
• Vinca minor ‘Bowles’ Variety’

Design: Karen Donnelly, Redwood City, CA (650/224-3476)