Your outdoor living area deserves to be decorated with the sunniest, brightest, most interesting, colorful plants imaginable. Whether yours is a sun-drenched terrace, a patio in the dapply shadows cast by majestic trees, or a shady nook, you will enjoy having plants at close range.
A Sun-Drenched Patio or Terrace
Here’s the place for heat-loving, wilt and fade proof patio plants.
For a squat, low container (four-inch depth, diameter six inches or more), portulaca (rose moss) is a knockout putting on a wonderful color display. By day, that is. Its satiny petals close tightly at sundown.
Tubbed or potted of yellow, white and pink miniature roses would make good companions set next to the portulaca to give evening color and fragrance. In another low pot, plant white sweet alyssum, offering the effect of drifted snow, plus fragrance.
For an eight-inch mound of ferny foliage covered by a sheet of dancing golden flowers, plant a pot of Dahlberg daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba). Blooms begin six to eight weeks after planting, continue all season. Clip back to keep it in shape.
Happy Basking In Summer’s Sun
No plant could be happier basking in summer’s sun to create a colorful patio than a marigold. Six-inch dwarfs are indispensable along with both large-flowered and long-inbloom varieties.
For unbelievable patio color flower profusion, length of season and earliness of first bloom, choose dwarf varieties of calliopsis – eight-inch annuals with daisy flowers.
The African daisy (dimorphotheca) gives a sheet of color during the hottest part of summer. One or two plants will fill a container 18 inches in diameter, making it a mound of orange, salmon, lemon or white flowers that glisten by day, close at dusk.
Nasturtium is excellent for a patio container. Making a mound 18 inches across, about 12 inches tall, covered with large flowers, above the foliage, in shades of cream, yellow, rose, salmon, orange and scarlet.
Today’s glorious petunias make wonderful container plants for an outdoor living area. Doubles can be traffic-stoppers.
Relieve The Hot Color Plants
To relieve the hot, vivid colors of many annuals, use some blue-flowered ones for a color accent. Six-inch ageratum, for instance. It gives good color all season, looks nice with blues, whites and pale yellows.
Gardeners everywhere always talk about the color blue. The blue of Chinese larkspur, growing a 12-inch mound of vivid color and can be interesting used as a patio color accent. Other low-growing blue flowers, under 12 inches tall, include cupflower (Nierembergia caerulea), varieties of dwarf, bush verbena with blue flowers, and Felicia bergeriana.
Showy Potted Patio Plants
The bush-flowering dwarf kinds of balsam make showy pot plants. A container planted generously to a mixture of dwarf cristata celosias (cockscombs) will collect many compliments. Eight-inch overall height, slightly smaller in diameter.
The plume or feather celosias in 12-inch dwarfs, colors red, orange and yellow, are showy also. Dwarf, bushy types of Phlox drummondi give mounds of many colors with a long bloom season. Bush-forming, dwarf verbenas are excellent also in a sunny, warm place. Periwinkles (varieties of Vinca rosea) make splendid patio pot or tub plants in sun.
With moisture at their roots, wax begonias can stand full sunlight. All kinds of geraniums are superb for this use – scented, fancy and ivy-leaf; all the standard zonate varieties.
Plant a pot or two or more of Festuca ovina glauca, an ornamental grass, for accent.
Perfect Breakfast Spot
A sun-drenched patio is likely to be warm early in the morning, even in spring – the perfect place for family breakfasts or brunches with friends.
Bulbs potted in the fall and brought to the terrace when they bloom in spring provide early color.
Kinds like tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, hold up well for up to two weeks. For fall color, pot dwarf hardy asters.
Cascade varieties of chrysanthemums are excellent for tall containers. For myriads of autumn color to bring to your patio, plant cushion or other low-growing mums.
Perfection – Patio Plants in Pots
For redwood or cedar tubs, large earthenware containers, or those of cast concrete, these plants do well on a sunny patio:
- Calamondin (miniature orange or Citrus mitis)
- Nicotiana (flowering tobacco-12 to 18 inches tall with flowers fragrant at night)
- Dwarf bamboo (Bambusa nana and others)
- Chinese hibiscus
- Bananas (Musa velutina and others)
For a real accent piece on your patio, choose a blue sky ceramic strawberry jar and plant it to a strawberry in it.
Hot Baked Patio Potted Plants
For a patio area baked to a crisp by hot sun, even burned by winds, rely on potted cacti and other succulents to give interest and color. The blue-gray or blue-green of many kinds gives a bit of cool color, welcome on this kind of patio or terrace.
A Patio Protected by Dappled Shade
If your patio has five or six hours of direct sunlight, then you can grow anything suggested for a sun-drenched terrace.
With less than five hours of sunlight, choose from plants that like bright light all day, but thrive and bloom on a few hours of direct sun—even that received in early morning and late afternoon, as on the north side of a house.
Here are some good plants for such a location :
- Browallia – 12-inch mounds of deep blue two-inch flowers
- Hundreds of different fuchsias
- Tuberous begonias
- Impatiens (sultanas)
- Ivy and fancy-leaf geraniums would be good as well
A Shaded Quiet Nook
This is the terrace where it’s nice to relax on a hot day; to sip and look at cool, restful colors. Caladiums are outstanding here, although colors may not be as intense as when plants get some direct sunlight.
Use potted ferns lavishly. Kinds like Pteris ensiformis `Victoriae’ with silver leaves could be used to give color contrast.
Here’s the place to put a beautiful tubbed palm and a grouping of many-hued rex begonias. Use all kinds of English ivy, particularly varieties that give color.
If your shaded terrace has bright light all day, with perhaps a bit of direct sun in early morning and late in the afternoon, add these plants:
- Torenias (wishbone flowers)
- Tuberous begonias
Basics to remember in planting and caring for all plants growing outdoors in containers:
Use rich, crumbly soil with enough sand to give perfect drainage.
Generous amounts of peat moss or unshredded sphagnum will help hold moisture when dog days come.
Water often enough in the absence of summer rains to keep soil nicely moist at all times.
Beware of planters which have no drainage holes. If a plant dries out rapidly, so often you are kept running with the hose, transplant to a larger container.