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Post by John Williams, a friend of PatioProductions.com
After a long, dark winter, most patios are looking a bit worse for wear. For a patio that has seen better days, spice things up with some stylish containers filled with eye-catching plants. Potted plants can provide color, texture, and volume without requiring more than weekly watering. Patio plants can also help you flex your green thumb if you don’t have much space for a traditional garden. This guide will share eight low-maintenance potted plants to refresh your patio this spring.
Before you buy plants, take a moment to select appropriate containers. You can use your house style as a guide. If your home has a brick facade, you may want to choose white or light neutral containers for contrast (rather than terra cotta). If your home exterior is modern or light-colored, the patio will look great with dark ceramic or galvanized metal pots. Larger pots will pack a more visual punch and need less frequent watering, but smaller containers are easier to move and read as you like. You can go for a loose, artistic arrangement of plants or a tight, symmetrical layout in a formal style.
If you want a low-growing plant with flamboyant foliage, Heucheras should be at the top of your list. This genus of plants, also known as “coral bells,” can have foliage in shades of fluorescent lime green, sunset orange, wine-dark purple and everything between. Leaf shapes vary from flat and full to frilly and ruffled. Some varieties are evergreen, and many are shade tolerant. Growing up to eighteen inches, Heucheras throw out long spikes of red, pink, white, or purple flowers from late spring to early summer. You can always remove the spikes, but if you leave them, you are sure to get visits from hummingbirds and butterflies.
Cordylines are robust, tropical stunners that tend to grow tall and bright. This makes them visually striking on their own and well suited for mixing with shorter understory plants. These beauties are happy in containers and flourish in full sun. They can’t survive cold winters, though, so prepare to replace them annually or bring them indoors before the first frost.
3.) Dichondra Argentea, Silver Ponyfoot
This southwest native has striking bright silver foliage, it grows quickly, and it cascades over the edges of containers to form a unique waterfall shape. This combination makes it a perfect backdrop to upright, vase-shaped plants and plants with dark or colorful foliage. Silver ponyfoot is drought tolerant and can take full sun to part shade. It cannot survive a harsh winter, but if you dig up a small section and bring it inside for the winter, it will be back to full bloom by spring.
4.) Agave macroacantha
While agaves aren’t exactly known for their diminutive size, the black-spined agave is an exception, growing to a mere eighteen inches across and about as high. This blue-gray agave is stately, sculptural, and requires hardly any care. It pairs well with sedums, silver ponyfoot, or any groundcover. But its sharp spines are no joke, so it’s best to tuck this potted plant well away from patio traffic.
5.) Blue Oat Grass
Blue oat grass is a lovely, fountain-shaped grass that shoots out long sprays of seedheads in the fall. Many kinds of grass are useful in garden design, but the size and shape of this ornamental grass make it well-suited as a visual anchor on a patio or for flanking the entrance to a home. You will want a large container to adequately accommodate it since it can grow two to three feet tall and will fill any container easily. Most grasses thrive in full sun and can survive a harsh winter, which means it can grace your patio garden year after year.
The sedum family is incredibly large and variable, but all the members require little care. Most flower at least once a year, and they offer excellent color and texture. From the tall and flowering Autumn Joy sedum with its broad, flat leaves to the low and dazzlingly golden Sedum acre, there is a sedum to match every preference for size, shape, and color. Some sedums are incredibly cold-hardy, and it isn’t uncommon to see them happily marching on through the winter, encrusted in snow and ice.
7.) Angelonia Serena
Angelonia is easy to love and hard to kill, which makes it a favorite of potted-plant enthusiasts. Also known as Summer Snapdragons, they enjoy full sun and can withstand high heat and humidity, making them a solid choice for patios in the South. The fragrant flowers of Angelonia come in purple, pink, and white, and last months. They can even be trimmed back and used as cut flowers to encourage more blooms. The only thing these cheerful plants will not tolerate is winter, so be prepared to replace them annually.
Geraniums are known for their hardiness, variety, and fragrant foliage. These cheerful container-dwellers will brighten up any space with their blooms. But you must give them a sunny spot where they receive at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. They will flower more vigorously if you deadhead and fertilize them but will perform just fine with minimal care.
These are just eight low-maintenance potted plants to refresh your patio. Once you start your potted garden, the possibilities are endless. When in doubt, always look for native varieties to get a feel for which plants will lend themselves to hassle-free gardening in your area. No matter which plants, containers, and design you choose, dressing up your patio with potted plants will elevate your outdoor style and put a smile on your face each time you venture out. If you’re looking for more ways to conserve water, check out these 10 tips for home water conservation.
John Williams is an outdoor living expert and explorer. When he’s not traveling to nature’s most well-known beauty spots, he tends to the greenery surrounding his home.