Trailing or hanging house plants look wonderful in any room, tumbling from a hanging planter or hanging basket, scrambling across a bookshelf or even cascading from the edge of a desk or table. Their attractively shaped leaves are of course their main attraction – some may be variegated or splashed with different colours – but some have flowers, too.
Most trailing house plants need a spot in bright light, out of direct sun, but be sure to check the individual requirements of your chosen plant.
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The best trailing house plants to buy for your home
The spider plant (Chlorophytum) is the classic trailing houseplant. But for something a bit different, why not try Chlorophytum 'Bonnie'? It has the same distinctive variegated green and yellow evergreen foliage, but the leaves are attractively curled. Spider plants are tough, low maintenance houseplants that are tolerant of a bit of neglect. Put your spider plant in a spot that has bright but indirect light and water when the top few centimetres of compost are dry. The plant is easy to propagate from the runners or baby plants that appear from the end of the stems.
Eventual height and spread: 50cm x 1m
String of pearls
The string of pearls, string of beads or pearl necklace, Senecio rowleyanus (also sold as Curio rowleyanus) is a sought-after houseplant, and it's easy to see why. It's a neat, compact plant that has rounded, fleshy, bead-like leaves on attractively trailing stems. It's also very easy to grow and low maintenance – just put it in a spot that has plenty of bright but indirect light and water when the few centimetres of compost are dry, letting any excess drain away. The stems can grow to several metres long but you can prune as required and use the cuttings to make new plants.
Eventual height and spread: 20cm x 3m
This trailing house plant has many different names – Scindapsus, pothos or Devil's ivy. It has attractive, heart-shaped leaves and will either trail or climb upwards if you provide it with a support such as a mossy pole. Many different types are available – some with attractively variegated or splotched leaves, or with golden yellow foliage. It's very easy to grow – just give it a spot in bright but indirect light and water when the top few centimetres of compost are dry. The stems can grow to several metres long but you can prune as required and use the cuttings to make new plants – just stand them in water until they have rooted, then pot up.
Eventual height and spread: 30cm x 2m
String of hearts
Known as string of hearts, hearts on a string or rosary vine, Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii is a compact and attractive trailing plant.
The delicate trailing stems are have small, heart-shaped leaves. These are splashed with dark green and silver, with purple undersides. Give it a spot in bright but indirect light, and water when the top few centimetres have dried out.
Eventual height and spread: 10cm x 1.5m
Philodendron scandens is another plant that will climb or trail. It's a fast-growing plant, which will eventually reach quite a size, and has attractive glossy, heart-shaped leaves. 'Brazil' is attractively splashed with green and gold. Great for making an impact.
Eventual height and spread: 40cm x 1.2m
For something a bit different, why not go for a lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus)? Not only does it have attractively tumbling and twisting foliage, but also bright red, trumpet flowers – hence its common name. It likes plenty of humidity, so a spot in a kitchen or bathroom is ideal. 'Twister' has attractively curled leaves.
Eventual height and spread: 60cm x 60cm
Also known as the wax plant or wax flower, Hoya carnosa has fleshy leaves with a waxy surface, tumbles attractively from its pot. 'Tricolor', as its name suggests, has leaves in three colours – white, green and pink. If it is grown in a bright enough spot (it can even take a little direct sunshine), it may also produce clusters of sweetly scented flowers.
Eventual height and spread: 40cm x 1m
String of turtles
Peperomia prostrata, also known as string of turtles or string of coins, has round, fleshy leaves with red stems. It is a good choice for a darker area of your home and grows well under fluorescent light, making it a good choice for an office. In spring and summer it may produce tiny brown flowers.
Eventual height and spread: 10cm x 50cm
Tradescantia or inch plant is one of the easiest house plants you can grow – it's tough and low maintenance and can cope with some neglect. There are several types available; Tradescantia zebrina is one of the most common, with striped silver and green leaves with red undersides. It may also produce purple-pink flowers throughout the year. It is extremely easy to propagate from cuttings – just snip off a stem or two, add to a glass or bottle of water, and pot up when roots appear.
Eventual height and spread: 50cm x 50cm
String of dolphins
String of dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) is a rare and much sought after trailing plant and it's easy to see why – it has intriguing arched leaves that are a similar shape to leaping dolphins. It's a succulent, so needs a bright spot; take care not to overwater. It may bear small, white cinnamon-scented flowers in autumn.
Eventual height and spread: 15cm x 80cm
Burro's tail (Sedum morganianum) is an eye catching house plant that has plump, trailing, blue-green foliage that tumbles from the edge of a pot. The stem tips may also produce pink-red start shaped flowers in summer. This is a low maintenance house plant that needs a bright spot; take care not to overwater.
Eventual height and spread: 30cm x 40cm
Veronica Peerless is a trained horticulturalist and garden designer.
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