Indoor plants lifted your spirits during the colder months—but now, as the weather warms, it’s time to turn your attention to the exterior of your home. You don’t need to have a full-blown backyard garden to breathe some life into the outdoor areas of your living space. Plus, if you pick the right ones, it’s not hard to keep patio plants alive and looking fabulous. Here are some of our favorites for sprucing up patios, porches, decks, balconies and the like.
1. Dorotheanthus Mezoo
The name of this succulent is a mouthful,but caring for it is a piece of cake. A lover of sun and shade alike, the Dorotheanthus Mezoo will be content pretty much anywhere on your patio or balcony. Plus, this low-maintenance plant is also a looker—its trailing, variegated foliage is eye-catching enough, and it might even flower (think: dainty, pink blossoms) throughout the season.
The sunnier, the better for these striking flowers. Indeed, Dahlias take kindly to containers provided they’re placed somewhere warm and bright; coincidentally, that’s also the aesthetic these vibrant orange and yellow blooms will lend to a sundrenched patio or balcony. Best of all, these beauties are among the first of the season to show their colors and the last to fade.
3. Persian Shield
The Persian Shield is not a flowering plant, but its shimmering purple and silver foliage is a feast for the eyes nonetheless. These puppies are also highly adaptable: The Persian Shield is drought-resistant (i.e., hard to kill) and can thrive in both the sun and the shade. In other words, they’ll fare just fine on any patio, in the care of practically any plant parent.
4. Sweet Potato Vine
Nothing announces summer quite like the lime green trailing foliage of the sweet potato vine—particularly when paired with a few colorful flower pots on your patio or balcony. Indeed, this container plant thrives in the heat, so be sure to place it in a sunny outdoor spot. Pro tip: The sweet potato vine is relatively drought-resistant, but if you keep the soil moist it will really prosper (and look especially lush in a hanging basket).
Petunias are a delicate-looking and fragrance-free flower that come in a wide variety of colors. They also bloom like nobody’s business in the spring and summer, so you get a lot of bang for your buck—provided you give them plenty of sun. Fortunately, these flowers are fairly hardy (i.e., they can take the heat) and are very easy to maintain. Bottomline: Keep petunias out of the shade and they’ll bloom so abundantly that even beginners will feel like they grew a green thumb.
The large, silky petals on these pretty flowers will make a big impression in any outdoor area. However, impatiens require partial to deep shade as well as plenty of moisture to thrive—so aim to keep them out of direct sun (heat is fine, though) and water them regularly. (A window box on a covered porch would make for a happy home for these blooms.)
With soft-colored petals, a vibrant center and a sprawling (sometimes trailing) growth pattern, these beautiful blooms will not go unnoticed on your balcony or patio. Calibrachoas are perfectly content to spill over the edges of any type of container, the only requirement when it comes to caring for this low-maintenance plant is that you provide it with ample sunshine.
Begonias, a go-to container plant for both indoors and outdoors, are incredibly easy-going. There are different types of begonias, boasting blossoms in a wide array of colors and shapes, but one thing they all have in common is that they (mostly) just don’t care. Begonias can thrive in the sun or shade—the only thing they want is warmth, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see these puppies bloom until the summer heat is in full effect.
The torenia plant shown above is a unique variety with dramatic purple and yellow blossoms—but no matter the type, you can expect a splash of color against a backdrop of verdant foliage from this shade-loving container plant. Care tip: Partial to full shade is preferable here (think: morning sun, afternoon shade), and be sure to keep the soil moist.
If you want to add some bold red color to your porch or balcony (and you should), geraniums are the way to go—these striking flowers will woo any guest or passerby (not to mention you). That said, before you carry this container plant home, make sure you can find it a place in the sun...full sun. Aside from that, all you need to do to keep a geranium happy is give it a good, deep watering when the soil feels dry.
11. Curry Plant
It has a name that makes you feel hungry (just us?) and it’s a feast for the eyes. The curry plant (i.e., helichrysum) is an outdoor plant with silvery-green foliage and a pleasantly sweet fragrance; it’s also an excellent way to add texture and greenery to a sparse (or abundantly flowery) patio or balcony. Note: This guy likes a fairly warm and dry environment—meaning it will do best during the warmer months, or in places with mild climates, and with soil that’s well-drained and not over-watered.
The glorious multi-colored foliage of the caladium can give any flower a run for its money—and under the right conditions, this summer stunner is exceptionally low maintenance. The caladium likes heat and humidity—so if you live somewhere where the warm season is a tad sweaty, you’re in luck. That said, the caladium can thrive almost anywhere, including indoors, as long as the soil is kept moist and the plant dwells in full to partial shade. (Note: Some varieties are actually fairly tolerant of the sun.)
Your patio display features foliage and flowers...now how about something that checks the boxes for both form and function? Yep, a balcony, porch or patio is ideal for growing an herb garden. It doesn’t make much of a difference what aromatic you choose to grow, because most of the heavy hitters (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary) have the same patio-friendly needs—namely, 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and watering every two weeks, or when soil is dry to the touch.
The deep red and lime green leaves on this plant make for an eye-catching patio presentation. Best of all, this option is not in the least bit fussy as there are varieties that can tolerate full sun, deep shade and everything in between. The takeaway? Coleus is a low-maintenance container plant that’s sure to add richness and tropical flair to any outdoor space.
15. Purple Queen
This number is a trailing, perennial evergreen and can be used as garden ground cover in places with a mild climate. The purple queen (also called purple heart) also performs beautifully as a container plant on the patio during warmer months—its majestic purple leaves will spill dramatically out of any pot or hanging basket you house it in. Best of all, this one is easy to care for: Drought-tolerant, fast-growing and amenable to both full sun and partial shade.
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