How to Hang Plants From the Ceiling
Raise the ornamental greenery in your home to new heights by installing a swag hook.
Hanging plants add appeal to a front porch or covered patio, and they can even liven up indoor spaces that may lack the floor space for earth-bound potted plants. To suspend a plant in midair, all one needs is a means of safely securing it to the ceiling. Enter the swag hook. These stout hooks mount to the ceiling and can hold around 20 pounds, and installation requires only a few simple tools most homeowners already have in their workshop or garage. By following the steps below, you can add natural flair to your indoor or outdoor living space by suspending attractive greenery from your ceiling.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Any time you hang something from the ceiling, be it a light fixture, ceiling fan, or potted plant, it’s crucial to keep safety in mind. Although a potted plant may seem harmless enough, many weigh upward of 10 to 15 pounds. At that weight, a hanging plant that falls will make a mess on the floor at best. At worst, it can injure an unsuspecting person standing underneath it. That’s why you need to pay attention to the installation guidelines and weight limits when choosing and installing a swag hook. If you’re not mounting the hook to a beam or stud, it’s imperative that you use a toggle bolt to secure the hook in hollow plaster or drywall to ensure that your plant stays aloft.
It’s also important that you place your hook in a location that will provide enough sunlight for the plant you want to hang. If you haven’t yet selected a plant, consider burro’s tail or string of pearls for full sun, creeping fig or nepenthes for indirect sunlight, or jade pothos for low light. These plant types will cascade over the sides of the pot as they grow, accentuating the hanging plant’s appeal. If you’re using your hanging plants for bug control, consider citronella or lantana.
STEP 1: Gather your materials and tools.
To successfully hang a plant from the ceiling, you need the right tools for the job. In addition to selecting the proper hook, which we’ll get to in a second, you’ll also need a corded or cordless drill. If you plan on hanging the hook with a toggle bolt, make sure you have a 1/2-inch drill bit to drill a hole into the ceiling. If you’re mounting the hook directly into a stud or beam, you’ll need a drill bit that is the same diameter as the shank of the pointed screw on the hook, not including its threads.
When you’re gathering your supplies, consider the container. Hanging plant containers come in lightweight plastic as well as heavier terra cotta. While both types will work, avoid pots with holes in the bottom because excess water draining out of the container will make a mess below. If you want your container to hang lower than permitted by the chain, rope, or rod that came with it, you may need to purchase a chain extender or S-hook to add length.
STEP 2: Select the right swag hook for the plant you want to hang.
Swag hook kits are available at most home improvement stores. Before you head out to purchase one, it’s a good idea to pot your plant and weigh it, keeping in mind that freshly watered soil is heavier than dry soil. Be sure you purchase a hook with a weight capacity that meets or exceeds the requirements of your potted plant.
When selecting a hook, pay attention to how it mounts to the ceiling. If you plan on mounting the hook into a stud or exposed beam, choose a hook with a pointed screw tip that you can drive directly into the stud. If you’re mounting the hook to a hollow part of the ceiling, you’ll need to use a swag hook with a toggle screw to ensure that it doesn’t pull free from the ceiling.
Finally, consider style. Swag hooks come in a wide selection of shapes and finishes. Go farmhouse chic with a white hook, or add vintage flair with a bronze model.
PRO TIP: Never attempt to use a plastic anchor to mount a screw to the ceiling. While plastic anchors can support 10 to 25 pounds when used in a wall, depending on their size, they can handle only about a third of their weight capacity when mounted to a ceiling. Because most hanging plants weigh 7 to 20 pounds, a plastic anchor simply won’t do.
STEP 3: Drill a hole for the swag hook.
If you’re drilling into a stud, load a drill bit that matches the shank of the pointed screw into the drill’s chuck. Press the tip of the drill bit firmly against the ceiling and engage the drill’s drive. If you’re drilling into hollow drywall, you’ll need to drill a hole that’s large enough to allow you to fit the toggle bolt into the wall. Refer to the listed size of the toggle anchor to choose the right size bit to drill the hole. Most toggle bolts require a hole that is about ½ inch in diameter.
STEP 4: Install the swag hook.
Now that you have drilled a hole, it’s time to install the hook (available on Amazon). If you’re mounting the hook to hollow drywall, begin by inserting the toggle bolt into the hole by closing the “wings” of the toggle bolt flush against the bolt shaft, then pushing it into the hole. Tighten the hook by hand turning it clockwise. The bolt will create a vise-like grip on the drywall or plaster between the flange of the hook and the wings.
If you’re mounting the hook to a stud or beam, press the pointed tip of the hook’s threaded end against the pilot hole you drilled in the previous step, and turn it clockwise until the hook’s base is flush with the ceiling.
PRO TIP: If you’re struggling to turn the hook into the stud or beam with your fingers, wrap a rag around the hook, then attach vise-grip pliers to it. The pliers will give you the leverage you need to drive the hook’s pointed screw end into the stud, while the rag will prevent the pliers’ teeth from scratching the hook.
STEP 5: Hang your plant of choice and make adjustments.
Once the hook has been installed, all that’s left to do is hang your pot. Place the rope or chain of the hanging basket in the hook, and then step back to admire the effect. If the plant isn’t hanging low enough, attach a chain extender or S-hook to bring it down to the desired height.
There are plenty of good reasons to hang plants from the ceiling. Maybe you don’t want to give up valuable floor space for a plant, or you’re trying to keep your greenery away from a pet or small child that gets into everything, or you simply like the touch of nature a hanging plant adds. No matter the reason, if you follow the steps above, you can safely suspend a plant from your ceiling and remain confident that it won’t come crashing back down to earth.