Spring means warmer weather and spending more time outdoors. If you’re working to improve your outdoor living spaces, use flowers and greenery to add color. When choosing plants for a deck, patio, or porch, look for varieties that grow well in containers and in the right light for your space. Here are some of the best plants for your patio.
Determining the Light on Your Patio
Plants have different requirements for water, soil, and light. Watch your patio or porch during daylight hours and make note of where the sun is at different parts of the day. This will help you choose the right plants to thrive in your outdoor spaces.
Fruits and vegetables will need 8 to 10 hours of sun every day. For other plants, generally “full sun” means 8 hours of sunlight each day. You may see plants labeled, “partial sun,” or “partial shade” and “full shade.” Partial sun means that the plant is heat tolerant and can handle 3 to 6 hours of strong, afternoon sun. “Partial sun” also indicates 3-6 hours of sunlight, but these plants tend to prefer early morning sun and don’t tolerate midday heat well. Finally, “full shade” plants still need daily sunlight, but they can thrive on 4 hours or less.
Choosing Plants for Your Patio
Once you’ve determined the light on the patio, you’re ready to choose plants. When purchasing plants from a home improvement store or nursery, look for the plant’s lighting requirements on the tags or ask someone who works there. A quick internet search ahead of time will also be helpful when you visit the garden center.
Container Plants for Full Sun
These plants are often sold as houseplants, but most varieties enjoy full sun. Croton will do well in containers on the patio. The brightly colored leaves make croton an attractive and interesting choice for outdoor areas.
Bamboo is an invasive plant and will spread quickly when planted in the ground. However, in containers, bamboo can be kept under control. Its fast-growing tendencies and the tall height of this grass make it ideal for planting as a privacy wall on one side of the patio. Bamboo enjoys full sun and moist but well-drained soil.
Strawberries have attractive green leaves and bright (and tasty) red fruits. These are easy to grow on well-lit patios. If you have groundhogs or chipmunks, plant your strawberries in taller pots or hanging baskets to keep them from enjoying the harvest.
Patio Plants for Partial Sun and Partial Shade
Alyssum is a fragrant annual with small pink, purple, or white flowers. This plant prefers full sun but will tolerate a partial sun location. Alyssum looks great in hanging baskets or in planter boxes with well-drained soil.
New Guinea Impatiens
Impatiens provide a vivid burst of color for the patio. Plant them in pots on the ground or in hanging baskets. These flowers thrive in partial shade but will also tolerate partial sun. They don’t enjoy drought, however. In the hottest part of the summer, you may need to water impatiens daily.
Plants for Your Full Shade Patio
Caladiums produce larger, showy leaves in a variety of reds, pinks, whites, and greens. These plants grow well in containers and in full shade locations. Keep the soil moist but don’t allow the plants to sit in water.
Fuchsia plants look great in a hanging basket in a shady location. Pink, purple, and white blooms drape over the edges of baskets and containers. Fuchsia does best in areas where the summer temperatures are between 55 and 80 degrees. If your summers tend to be hotter, you can still enjoy fuchsia on the patio in spring and fall.