All manner of succulents and cacti are great plants to grow both indoors and outdoors, but the trailing ones are on another level. They transform any container they’re in, adding a lot of interest and sometimes a huge amount of color.
They are especially great options when you may have, er, run out of space, but you still want to add to your succulent or cacti collection.
Hanging succulents and cacti also make a great option for if you want a greener space and all the benefits these plants provide, but time is tight, or you are away for extended periods.
Succulents and cacti are perfect for hanging pots as they don’t need to be taken down very often to water them, unlike, for example, ivy, tradescantia, or spider plants.
In fact, you could pretty much hang them up and forget about them for a while, and more often than not, they will thrive.
Keep reading to discover how to tell the difference between a cactus and a succulent, the best plants for hanging displays, and how to care for them.
How to Tell the Difference between Succulents and Cacti
I’ll start with the caveat. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulent plants are classified as cacti.
Cacti exclusively come from a single plant family, Cactaceae, whereas succulents are spread across numerous plant families.
If you’re unsure of whether your plant is a cactus or a succulent, have a closer look. If your plant has areolas – these are small bumps, usually of a different color than the rest of the plant – then you are looking at a cactus.
In some cactus plants, areolas are the part of the plant that produces spikes to deter predators.
This rule isn’t 100% foolproof, as, for example, one Astrophytum cactus in particular doesn’t have areolas, called astrophytum myriostigma, or the Bishop’s Hat cactus. Still, it’s a good general rule.
Amazing Trailing and Hanging Cacti and Succulent Varieties You Can Grow
This list includes some of the most robust and interesting hanging cacti and succulent plants you can grow yourself, and most need very little care in order to thrive. Perfect.
Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on fire’
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, this plant does not set itself on fire, though the sap is toxic, like most in the Euphorbia genus. Good thing you’re hanging it, then!
The ‘Sticks on fire’ plant is easy to grow both outdoors and indoors, and the stems can get to a maximum of 3 feet long. The common name comes from the vivid yellow and red colors, which looks a little like the plant is on fire.
Agave attenuata ‘Fox Tail Agave’
The ‘Fox Tail Agave’ or Agave attenuata is a lovely plant that looks like any other agave, that is, until it flowers.
The flowers stretch above the succulent foliage, and bend over the plant, creating a very interesting display!
This agave comes from Mexico, so naturally, it needs a very dry environment in order to be at its best. Luckily, houses provide a very dry atmosphere, making it the perfect choice for adding greenery and interest in a hanging pot.
Aporocactus flagelliformis ‘Rat Tail Cactus’
If you want a very interesting cactus that will add a lot of drama to a hanging pot, the ‘Rat Tail Cactus’ or Aporocactus flagelliformis is the perfect choice.
You will need to hang this pot quite high if you want to grow this plant, as the stems can reach up to 4 feet long. They also have spines, so it is worth positioning this plant well away from any high-traffic areas, and a bright corner wall might be best.
Once this cactus has matured, you might also spot flowers growing along the leaves, which adds another dimension to the display this cactus puts on.
You can also readily propagate this plant by taking cuttings, which is infinitely faster than trying to grow this plant from seed.
Like all cacti, you’ll need to make sure the soil has completely dried out before you water it again, otherwise you risk drowning the plant.
Beaucarnea recurvata ‘Ponytail Palm’
The ‘Ponytail Palm’ succulent is an unusual plant with a very thick trunk-like stem, and this characteristic has also given it the name ‘elephant’s foot palm’. You can also recognize this plant by its long, narrow leaves.
It has the benefit of being very slow-growing, which is perfect for hanging containers, as they are a little more tricky to repot.
Ceropegia Linearis Woodii ‘String of Hearts or Rosary Vine’
Really the only way to grow a String of Hearts is in a hanging basket because of its trailing habit. If it wasn’t perfect enough, the heart-shaped leaves can be variegated.
While the string of hearts of Ceropegia Linearis Woodii likes a lot of light, it doesn’t like direct sunlight, as this will scorch the plant.
They need a lot of water, compared to some of the plants on this list which need very little, but you can scale this back in winter.
Crassula Pellucida Variegata ‘Calico Kitten’
One of the many fantastic succulents in the Crassula genus is ‘Calico Kitten’, or Crassula Pellucida Variegata. It can thrive both outdoors and indoors, and because it is variegated, it will need more sunlight in order to thrive.
In most plants, variegation caused by albinism makes them weaker, as the leaves cannot gather enough solar energy when they aren’t green enough.
Like most crassulas, ‘Calico Kitten’ needs watering sparingly, and a container with good drainage holes to stop the plant from rotting.
Epiphyllum anguliger ‘Fishbone Cactus’
A fantastic ornamental, the fishbone cactus comes from Mexico, so you’ll need to place it indoors for most of the year unless you live in a wonderfully warm part of the world.
It’s very easy to grow indoors, and in its native Mexico, it lives between the branches of trees where it gets the nutrients and humidity it needs, among orchids, ferns, and other epiphytes.
It will grow well in specialist cacti soil, and it’s probably best to place it in the bathroom or kitchen, where it can thrive on humidity.
While the name might lead you to believe that this plant is a cactus, it’s not a true cactus, and therefore needs a significantly larger amount of water than cacti can survive on. During dry summers, give it a generous amount of water.
As well as having eye-catching foliage, this plant can also flower. The flowers produced are strongly scented, and you may see them once your fishbone cactus reaches 2 years old.
Othonna capensis ‘Ruby Necklace’
If you’d like your hanging pot to have more color, you can’t go wrong with Othonna capensis, or the ‘Ruby Necklace’ plant. Like most succulents, this plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Othonna capensis also produces blooms in a vibrant yellow or a sunny orange, making for the perfect flowering, trailing plant.
Senecio radicans ‘String of Bananas’
This plant is as fun as it sounds. The foliage looks like little bananas on a string, and is perfect for a hanging planter, where the plant can really show off.
You might want to position the pot further up than you normally might, as each stem can reach a length of 35 inches!
This fantastic plant also has a lovely fragrance, and produces flowers which come in yellow, purple, or white.
Unfortunately, if you have cats or children – or anyone else who might like to nibble on this plant – it’s not suitable for your home, as it’s poisonous if ingested.
Calandrinia spectabilis ‘Rock Purslane’
‘Rock Purslane’, or the Calandrinia spectabilis comes from Chile, and can live outside if you live in a USDA zone 8 and up. It’s a hardy plant which can tolerate drought and 25 °F, making it very versatile.
It can attract a whole range of pollinators, as it produces poppy-like purple and pink flowers in abundance. The plant itself only grows to about 8 inches in height, and are classed as dwarf succulents.
You can even try growing them indoors, though they will probably produce fewer flowers, they will still be a magnificent sight.
Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’
Senecio rowleyanus, or the string of pearls, comes from South Africa, and is another plant perfectly suited for hanging containers, as it has a trailing habit.
You can recognize this plant by its trailing stems that look like a discarded necklace, with the perfectly round leaves.
The stems can reach an impressive 35 inches long, but you will occasionally need to separate some to keep the plant healthy. You can propagate any cuttings you take, by leaving them in indirect light, and water every other day.
The string of pearls is not suited for outdoor life unless you live somewhere warm and dry. This gorgeous cascading succulent needs indirect light, as bright light will make the plant wilt.
You can also use the string of pearls as part of a larger display of succulents, where it will truly come into its own.
Senecio Fish Hooks ‘Grey Fishhooks Senecio’
Like many Senecio plants, the clue to the plant’s appearance lies in the name, and in this case, the leaves look like fishhooks.
Like the majority of succulents, this plant is very easy to propagate, and easier still to care for, making it a great option for a trailing pot.
Direct sunlight will cause the leaves to burn, so pop this plant somewhere that has bright, indirect light.
You’ll also want to keep it somewhere you can reach, as it will need watering frequently, but you must let the soil dry out in between watering.
Euphorbia caput-medusae ‘Medusa Head’
Found in and around Cape Town, this striking succulent looks exactly how you’d imagine Medusa’s hair would look.
This Euphorbia has snake-like stems twisting out in all directions, and these are softened by gorgeous flowers, which only bloom when the plant is mature. The stems can reach up to 11 inches tall, making for the perfect display.
This succulent also needs regular watering, especially in the summer months, but you can drastically reduce this in winter.
Unless you live somewhere warm, you’ll need to keep it indoors until the summer months, as it cannot weather the harsh conditions of winter.
Dischidia nummularia ‘Strings of Nickels’
Another epiphyte plant, ‘String of Nickels’ naturally grows on tree trunks, branches, vines, rocks, and other plants.
You can get the foliage in either a silvery green, or a bronze, and both look fantastic in hanging pots. It’s also known as the button orchid, and they grow in the tropical parts of Australia, Asia, and India.
They do produce tiny white or yellow blossoms frequently, but they are hard to spot among the waterfall of ‘nickels’!
This plant doesn’t require a lot of light, though it loves humidity, so a bathroom is best for indoor growing.
You can also grow them outdoors, so long as they are grown under the cover of porches or other protected areas. You’ll also have to bring them inside once the temperature plummets.
Sedum morganianum ‘Donkey’s Tail’
One of the most popular trailing plants, ‘Donkey’s Tail’ or Burro’s tail is a beautiful succulent that produces very fleshy and pointy green leaves.
They prefer a place where they’ll get plenty of indirect sunlight, and this is a great plant that you can pot and then leave for weeks without giving it any attention at all.
It will largely take care of itself, and it’s only very occasionally that you’ll have to water it. Just make sure that the soil is completely dry before you pick up that watering can or jug.
Sedum burrito ‘Baby Donkey Tail’
‘Baby Donkey Tail’ is very similar to the ‘Donkey Tail’ succulent above, except that it’s a much more compact plant.
This Sedum is native to Mexico, just like the one above. The ‘Baby Donkey Tail’ succulent is a fantastic hanging plant, and your guests are likely to point it out every time they see it!
It also has the benefit of being very easy to look after, and hard to kill. As long as you place it somewhere that will get bright, indirect light, in well-draining soil, and water it sparingly, it will thrive.
It’s also a great way to create a wall display, or even decorate those hard-to-reach areas on the tops of wardrobes, or those shelves you’re not sure what to do with.
Hoya Plant ‘Wax Plant’
One of the plants that produces the most beautiful flowers on this list, the Hoya can be found in the wild in parts of Asia and Australia.
This vine features lovely heart-shaped leaves that are a feature on their own.
A Hoya plant, or ‘Hindu Rope’, as it’s called in some places, needs indirect light in order to survive, as direct sunlight is too harsh for it. Otherwise, you can grow it inside or out, so long as it has a humid atmosphere.
The flowers are gorgeous, and extremely petite, forming in globular clusters. They almost look as if someone’s made them out of porcelain.
You may have a little while to wait until the plant flowers, as blooms only grow on mature plants.
Senecio herreianus ‘String of Beads’
This Senecio succulent is usually mistaken for the string of pearls. While related, the string of beads has oval-shaped leaves.
The care needed is very similar to the string of pearls, too. You will need to protect both from extreme cold, as they cannot tolerate it.
Hildewintera Colademononis ‘Monkey’s Tail’
By now you’ll have heard of epiphytes, which live off other plants, but have you heard of epilithic plants? Can you guess? They live off rocks!
‘Monkey’s Tail’ is a perfect plant for a hanging basket, and its light green stems are usually covered in hairy spines, so don’t hang this plant somewhere you’re likely to walk past all the time!
This plant prefers full sun, and will produce deep red flowers once the plant has matured.
Echinopsis Chamaecereus ‘Peanut Cactus’
You’ll need a lot of light for this one, though the demand is worth it. The ‘Peanut Cactus’ comes from Argentina, and the stems start off small, upright, and prickly.
While they stay prickly, the stems elongate off the sides of the pot, looking like fingers!
Once this cactus has matured and the conditions are right, it will produce orange or red flowers in abundance, adding to the plant’s fantastic display.
As it is a cactus, you’ll need to water it very sparingly, and it will readily forgive you if you forget.
Sedum Little Missy ‘Sedum Petite Bicolor’
This lovely sedum features bicolored leaves – as the name suggests – and showcases pale pink and green in abundance. What it lacks in stature, it makes up in numbers, as it produces lots of leaves.
Sedums are very easy plants to grow, and this one is no exception, and will pretty much thrive wherever you choose to plant it.
Euphorbia milii ‘Crown of Thorns’
A very unusual-looking Euphorbia, ‘Crown of Thorns’ is an unforgettable plant, native to Madagascar. It’s a plant that’s highly suited for indoors, as it loves the dry atmosphere.
It’s also a very long-lived plant, some of which have made it past the 100-year mark! While it looks like it grows crimson flowers, these are actually bracts, which are colorful leaves.
This means that the bracts are very long-lived, making for a vivid display.
This euphorbia cannot stand cold temperatures, and will grow much more compact in a pot, as in its native habitat, it can reach 3 feet tall.
As with most plants from the euphorbia family, this one is toxic, so keep it out of reach.
Schlumbergera x buckleyi ‘Christmas Cactus’
Named as the Christmas cactus because it flowers during the festive season, this is the perfect plant to grow from a hanging pot, as the leaves have a naturally trailing habit.
You should avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can halt its growth.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Flowering Kalanchoe’
All kalanchoes are striking and relatively easy to grow, but one particularly suited to a hanging pot is the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. It will regularly produce flowers, and depending on the individual plant, these could be purple, red, yellow, orange, or white.
We couldn’t mention succulents and cacti and leave the Echeveria genus off the list. These glorious rosette succulents will do well in any container, but they look particularly striking in hanging pots, so long as you stop the soil from falling out!
‘Afterglow’ is a lovely variety, but there are so many to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Echeverias need a good amount of sunlight, well-draining soil, and hardly any water in order to thrive.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Snake Plant’
Snake plants are very easy to look after, which makes them perfect for hanging pots, as you won’t have to take them down very often.
They don’t mind some shade, and they can go for long periods of time without water, making them nearly maintenance free.
Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Devil’s Backbone’
This is a very distinct Euphorbia, and resembles a spine! While it can grow up to 8 feet tall in its natural habitat, it will grow much more compact in a pot, and it produces lovely, striking flowers in spring.
Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Panda Plant’
One of the softest-looking plants on this list, the ‘Panda Plant’ has tiny hairs which look like down covering the entire leaves, and features brown spots on the very edges of the leaves, contrasting well with the light hair.
Gymnocalycium mihanovichii ‘Chin Cactus’
The ‘Chin cactus’ prefers full sunlight, and they need more water than you’d guess in order to thrive. It also produces flowers, in white, pink, or green. The flesh of the cactus itself also has a hint of pink.
Euphorbia trigona ‘African Milk Tree Cactus’
A very slow-growing succulent, this is not a bad thing, as it means it is easily taken care of in a hanging pot. You’ll need to use the soak and dry method for this one – thoroughly soak the soil, and then let it dry out completely before you do so again.
Opuntia microdasys ‘Angel Wings Cactus’
Also known as ‘Bunny Ears’, the ‘Angel Wings cactus’ is covered in spines, but it’s widely grown for its shape, which – as you can guess – looks like a rabbit’s head.
It’s relatively slow growing, and would look perfect in a hanging basket, not too far up the wall, so you can still see the foliage.
Mammillaria hahniana ‘Old Lady Cactus’
This fantastic cactus produces ‘flower crowns’ on the ‘head’ of each stem, adding a lot of personality and character to any room.
The ‘Old Lady Cactus’ is covered in spines, so you’ll want to position it away from anywhere you tend to pass regularly. It’s a fuss-free plant that’s very easy to care for, making it a fantastic addition to any indoor or outdoor scheme.
If you live somewhere that has cold weather or downpours, you’ll want to keep the ‘Old Lady’ inside, as this plant can’t tolerate either.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Hang Cacti or Succulents?
You can get specially designed hanging baskets both for indoor and outdoor use, but you can also get creative. Use shelves, make your own macramé hanger, or something unique to match your plants!
Do You Grow Hanging Cacti and Succulents Outside?
Honestly, this depends on where you live, and the plants you choose. If you choose tender plants, and you live somewhere that gets cold or has extreme weather, you’re better off keeping them indoors.
Growing trailing cacti or succulents inside will largely need a lot of light, and you’ll need to water them very sparingly. But this is largely dependent on the plant you choose, as you can see from the varying care requirements above.
If you choose hardier plants, you can pop them outside. You may need to put them somewhere shadier, and this will probably mean you’ll need to change how much water you give them, too.
Is it Hard to Grow Hanging Cacti Or Succulents?
Nope. You will need to consider how much time you have and how much time you wouldn’t mind spending on your plants, and where these hanging containers can go. As long as you choose the right plants for your space, you’ll have no trouble at all.
Hanging pots full of plants add a whole new dimension to any space, giving hard-to-reach places that softness and greenery all plant enthusiasts crave.
Growing succulents and cacti in hanging containers can make for the perfect displays, and they are especially great if you’ve run out of space on that bright windowsill or shelf!
These plants add a lot of character to any space, as they are very unusual in their own right, and have the benefit of being very easy to care for, and more often than not, very long-lived.
There’s something to be said about growing plants in an unconventional way, like hanging pots which usually just sit on a table.
That’s what gardening is all about, experimenting with how a plant looks, and finding the best way to care for it, and the satisfaction you get from the experience.