Looking for advice on the best plants for outdoor pots?
Whether you're a budding gardener looking to start with small plants in containers, or a seasoned pro looking to plant outdoor pots, you'll find plenty of inspiration here.
This post on the best houseplants lists 25 great low-maintenance houseplants. I've also included simple plant care tips to keep them happy and looking good, as well as a quick guide to the essential tools you'll need for your pots.
The benefits of growing plants in pots
Growing plants in pots has many advantages.
If you are new to gardening, growing plants in pots is a great way to start. You can keep things small by moving to larger screens as you learn and become more confident.
Another element of container gardening that appeals to new gardeners is low maintenance. It is easier and faster to care for a plant in a pot than to keep it on the entire edge of the garden. In addition, the containers are relatively portable, so if your plant has problems, you can easily move it to another location before it's too late.
This portability is also a big plus for renters, as you can take your plants with you when you move.
Containers are also perfect for gardening in small spaces. You don't even need a garden. you can place the pot on the balcony, in front of the front door or on the windowsill. Thanks to this, growing plants in pots is an extremely easy way to green your outdoor space, regardless of its size.
Growing in pots, baskets and containers also allows you to adjust the height of the garden. This is especially useful if your mobility is limited or you have difficulty gardening at ground level. Being able to play with height is also a great way to create a larger display of plants and flowers in a small space by using different sizes of pots, pergolas and even shelves.
Container gardening is also great for kids. Kids love having their own pot to take care of, and it's easy for them to plant plants in a smaller space. You can also introduce fun crafts by decorating their pot or making plant tags.
Finally, if you don't have much time for gardening, a good compromise is to focus on growing houseplants. Smaller scale means less time for watering, weeding and pests - and you don't have to dig!
It's not hard to see why container gardening is so popular, right?
Do plants grow better in pots or in the ground?
Some plants are better suited to growing in the ground, while others will be more than happy in a pot. Choose plants that are suitable for growing in pots, and you have a much better chance of creating a healthy and beautiful garden in containers. In the gardening world, this is often referred to as "the right plant in the right place."
The right plant, the right place
You may have heard the saying "right plant, right place". it is a key element of good garden design and is often mentioned in garden programs and magazines. It's a simple but effective approach to helping plant growth, and it's worth taking the time to understand the concept.
All plants - no matter what conditions you grow them in - have their own conditions in which they will thrive. Place your plant in a location that provides these conditions and you'll be well on your way to making it happy.
The flip side of this idea is that by forcing the plant to grow in conditions it naturally doesn't like, you will automatically reduce its effectiveness.
The concept of "right plant, right place" explains a lot about why you may have lost plants in the past, and also provides a simple framework for growing plants in the future.
So how do you determine the conditions that plants need? Check the care label first. If you don't have one, search for a plant online or use a plant identification app. Some plants need full sun, while others thrive in full shade. Your plant may need high humidity or love to bake in dry heat. Armed with this information, you can choose the perfect spot for your container and make sure you're giving your plants the best possible chance to thrive.
The difference between annuals and perennials for outdoor pots
If you're relatively new to gardening, here's a quick guide to the differences between annuals and perennials. This will come in handy when choosing plants and setting a budget.
Annual plants grow, flower and die in one growing season or year. As a result, you will usually have to replace them with new plants every year.
Urtplants will grow year after year. They may die in winter and grow back in spring or be evergreen. Either way, you shouldn't replace them regularly.
Most of the plants sold in garden centers and online for planting in containers are annuals. Often referred to as "bedding plants," popular varieties include begonias, pansies, petunias, lobelia and marigolds.
Minannual and perennial plantsThe post goes into more detail about the pros and cons of each class of plant.
Can you plant perennials in pots?
Absolutely. If your perennial is suitable for growing in a pot, there is no reason not to. In fact, growing perennials in containers is a much more economical way to garden. This also greatly opens up the range of plants available. If you choose the right variety, you can perfectly grow flowering plants, shrubs and even small trees in pots. Read on to find out what perennials do well in pots.
The best low maintenance plants for outdoor pots
So you rarely do container gardening and now it's time to choose your plants. Here are my top picks for low-maintenance houseplants to help you create stunning displays in containers.
Plants for pots
A standard bush is a bush that has grown in a certain shape. It is often a lollipop that resembles the structure of a small tree. Standard shrubs are ideal plants for growing in containers and can be used to great effect. They are also ideal tall plants for pots.
Typical large, low-maintenance shrubs for outdoor pots include bay, photinia, wisteria, holly and ornamental cherry. I have a miniature ornamental cherry called Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' which I look forward to in the spring.
There are many varieties of roses that are suitable for growing in pots. As the name suggests, the terrace rose variety is an excellent choice. I love the white simplicity of "Bianco", but there is a wide range of colors to choose from.
You probably associate succulents with houseplants, but many varieties are great for outdoor pots. You can plant several varieties together to create a desert garden effect, or stick to one type for a more modern look. Succulents look great on a background of pebbles, it's a great way to prevent soil from splashing onto the leaves.
Succulents are very low-maintenance houseplants, but they don't like sitting in moist soil. Be sure to give them plenty of drainage.
If you want to introduce an evergreen shrub into your container, consider a camellia. Their dark green glossy leaves attract attention all year round and present a stunning display of flowers in early spring. You need to plant camellias in compost and grow them in a sheltered spot, but if done right, they don't require much maintenance.
The restrictive nature of the pot works to your advantage when it comes to agapanthus, as it causes the plant to produce more flowers. Agapanthus will produce tall and showy flowers in the summer months, with shades from white to deep blue. I think they work particularly well in modern interiors, but also against a dark background that emphasizes the color.
If you want a formal, elegant look for your container, a cut plant in a box is the best option. These plants grow slowly, so they are not cheap to buy, but you can buy a small plant to keep costs down. That said, if you're looking for large potted plants, a large box in a nice pot can be a good focal point.
Since the box grows slowly, you will need to prune it approximately every year. The rest of the year it only needs water. Before you buy, check if you live in an area with an insect or woodworm problem. If you are concerned, you can choose an alternative evergreen such as holly or bay.
Dwarf Buddlejas are designed to be grown in pots and offer the small flower effect of a traditional Buddleja plant in a much more compact area. It is also a great plant for pollinating insects, especially loved by butterflies.
This is another traditionally large plant that has recently been introduced as a dwarf variety for container gardeners. Dwarf lavatera (or hollyhock) is a hardy plant that can handle a little neglect and produces lots of pink flowers on tall stems. It is also another excellent plant for pollinating insects.
Lavender is a traditional country house garden plant, but it also looks great in more modern settings. You can do that tooplant lavender in pots. Choose a hardy English variety and keep maintenance to a minimum. Lavender has good drainage, so don't overwater it.
*pearthey are suitable for growing in pots and you can create a beautiful spring decoration before other plants start to grow. A particularly clever way to do this is to plant onion lasagna, which involves layering the onions in the pot to extend the flowering period. My post atplanting onion lasagnashows how to do it.
Hardy geraniums are truly easy-care, unpretentious flowers for pots. They will happily grow in containers where they will produce lots of flowers with little effort. You can do that tooseparate themas they grow and create new plants for free!
You don't need flowers to make a big impact in a container. With their large, textured leaves, hostas are ideal specimen plants for containers, providing a striking display of foliage. An additional advantage of growing them in pots is that you can protect them from snails much more easily.
Another great choice for foliage, heucheras come in many colors from deep purple to golden brown. They look very nice next to flowering plants, but they also look great alone or in several different colors together in their own pots.
We usually think of hydrangeas as beautiful, large bedding plants, but they also like to grow on a smaller scale in a container. Hydrangea blooms for months, so you can create a real wow effect from one pot for a long time. Check the water level regularly as these plants are thirsty.
Ornamental grasses are great plants for outdoor pots. Use them to add height, texture and movement to your display. I like to use grasses as a background for annuals. Greens are also great for providing structure and interest in the winter months. Some are evergreen, but even those that die back can look impressive if you leave the dead stems intact.
Annuals for pots
When it comes to annual potted plants for outdoor use, there is a wide variety to choose from. Here are my favorite low-maintenance annuals for containers.
Osteospermum, also known as African daisies, has many cheerful daisy-like flowers that come in a variety of colors. I like to combine them with smaller flowering plants like lobelia.
Lobelia is an excellent plant to fill the screen of a container. It is covered with tiny blue, white or purple flowers and holds. You can buy standard or ready-made varieties of lobelia. I think lags are especially useful in containers because they allow you to soften the edges and continue to extend over a larger area. It is one of the best plants forhanging basket with flowersMuch.
Petunias are extremely popular houseplants, and for good reason. They are easy to grow, produce lots of flowers and come in a wide variety of colors. If you deadhead them regularly, they will bloom for many months.
Annual verbena is another versatile bedding plant that can be combined with other plants to create a colorful display. I like to use white thongs paired with stronger colors for contrast, but there are also shades of pink and purple if you prefer more "oomph".
pansies and violas
Pansies and violas will grow almost anywhere. They are eager to bloom even in the colder months, making them perfect for adding winter charm to your garden.
Not all sunflowers are six foot giants! There are many smaller varieties that do well in containers, including our favorite *Little Bearwhich, as you can imagine, is wonderfully fluffy.
In addition to being true markers, sunflowers will be a food source for local birds and pollinators. Sunflowers are also ideal plants to grow with children. My step by step guidegrowing sunflowers in potsincludes planting tips, care tips and good varieties to grow.
Nigella is a really easy-care plant for outdoor pots. You literally spread *frogin the ground and let them grow. Nigella likes to sow around the garden, so next year you may find more plants growing without any effort on your part.
*Nasturtiumthey are ideal plants for hanging baskets and pots, providing bright colors all summer long. They will tolerate poor soil and can handle any space you give them, and as an added bonus the flowers are edible.
Don't assume you need a large meadow to grow wildflowers. Even a small pot *wild flowersit can provide a rich habitat for local fauna and flora and a beautiful display of flowers in a country garden style. Wildflowers are also ridiculously low maintenance. scatter the seeds, wrap them lightly, water them and that's it. If you want to breed them with your kids, check out my postcultivation of wild flowers.
When it comes to striking foliage, coleus can't be beat. They look great planted together or used as accents in a mixed container. Some varieties prefer sun and others shade, so check the label before buying. You can try turning the coleus into a houseplant for the winter and moving it back into the garden when the risk of frost is over.
Cineraria, another great deciduous plant for containers, has beautiful silver leaves that work really well on pink and purple flowers. There are cineraria in almost every container in my garden! If your garden is sheltered, the plants can survive the winter.
Last on my list is good old ivy. It's a trailing plant, so you can use it to extend the screen around the edge of the pot, and you can also choose from varieties with solid green or variegated leaves to match the final look. Growing ivy in containers also means the problem doesn't get out of hand and take over!
Tips for caring for potted plants outdoors
Finding suitable low-maintenance outdoor houseplants is a big part of container garden success, but there are several other factors that will play a role. Check out these simple care tips for outdoor potted plants and you'll be well on your way to becoming a gardening pro.
The best containers for outdoor plants
When it comes to the pots you grow your plants in, there are few rules. Most importantly, make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom. Most plants do not like being rooted in a puddle, and that way you can quickly kill the plant. If your pot doesn't have holes, either drill them (a hammer and nail works well in plastic and metal pots) or add an inner pot with drainage holes before planting.
Another important area to consider is container size. Think about how many plants you want to grow in it and what final size they will reach. The plant size should be on the plant label or you can check it online. Choose a size that will fit your plants for at least one year to give them plenty of room to grow and avoid the need for regular repotting.
Besides, it's really up to you when it comes to the shape, color, material and style of your pots. You can match the style with your existing outdoor space or mix it up a bit. There are also tons of recycling and reusable bins. old kettles, sinks, chimneys, rubber boots and storage boxes work well. Just remember to add these drain holes.
Choosing compost for outdoor potted plants
Compost is more important than ever when growing plants in pots. If you grow plants in soil, their roots have easy access to nutrients from the soil and are not limited by the pot. Conversely, plants grown in containers will quickly use up the nutrients they have available from the compost.
For this reason, it is always a good idea to use good quality, *compost without peatfor your plants in containers. General purpose compost works for most plants, but some plants require special fertilizers to help them thrive. Check the plant label for this information.
You can also buy compost specially formulated to support plants grown in containers and hanging baskets. It usually contains water-retaining crystals and a slow-release fertilizer is added. It is not necessary to use this when planting pots, but it can help reduce the amount of maintenance required on the plants. If you don't have much time or you tend to neglect your plants, I think this is a good choice.
For more tips on composting and container plants, head over to my guidebest potting compost.
Do I have to repot the plants after purchase?
In general, you should aim to transfer the plants to their own containers as soon as you bring them home. Remove the pot from the plant and you will likely find the roots quite compressed. This means that the plant will benefit from a larger pot with more compost.
An exception to this rule is the purchase of plants already planted in a decorative pot or already planted in a display container, e.g. a hanging basket. In both of these cases, the plants should already be provided with the appropriate size of pots.
Feeding plants growing in outdoor pots
Since your plants in containers will consume nutrients from the compost, you will need to feed them regularly to help them thrive. A general purpose plant fertilizer is a simple choice, but if you grow fruits and vegetables in containers, be sure to choose a plant food specifically designed for them.
Plant foods come in several different forms. The most common is *condensed liquidwhich you dilute according to the instructions on the package and use to water the plants. You can also buy *frogwhich must be sprinkled on the surface of the soil and carefully pushed in, and *liquid food ready to eatwhich you just pour into the pan. The latter option is great if you're a little intimidated by the idea of proper feeding, but it's not the cheapest or most reusable option.
If you like the idea of being self-sufficient, or you aregardening on a budget, you can also make your own natural plant food from comfrey or nettle leaves. It is an excellent choice for organic gardening. Here's how you do it:
Drainage for potted plants
I have already talked about drainage in the form of holes in the bottom of your container. It is also a good idea to throw stones or pieces of terracotta pot in the bottom before adding compost.
If you are wondering "why would I put stones in the bottom of a pot?", here is the answer. Adding a layer of rocks will increase the container's ability to drain excess water, which in turn will help provide a more balanced growing environment. This is especially important in the colder months of the year.
Watering container plants
When it comes to water, a container plant is more dependent on you than a plant grown in the ground. A container generally dries much faster than a garden bed, and not just because there is a limited amount of water there. The sides of the pot are more exposed to higher temperatures, which heats the soil and thus speeds up evaporation.
In the warmer months, check the soil in the containers regularly. If they feel dry to the touch, water them. Drooping plants are another telltale sign, but it would be best to move the watering can before this stage. Try to avoid watering the containers during the hottest part of the day so that you don't lose as much water to evaporation. Early morning watering is ideal, and the next best option is early evening.
You can also add *water retention crystalsin your compost when you place the containers. This will help keep the moisture level constant and should mean you will need to water the pots less often.
In the colder months, you may not be able to water the containers at all, but it is worth checking the soil regularly.
How to prolong the flowering of potted plants
After investing time and money in outdoor potted plants, it's worth trying to keep them looking their best for as long as possible. Deadheading is a simple way to do this.
Deadheading involves removing any flowers that fall off, die or form seed heads. In this way, the plant does not set seeds and produces more flowers.
To kill the plants, simply pinch or cut off the old flower heads. You can use your fingers, but a few *artit will speed up the work considerably.
For best results, try to remove plants regularly.
The best tools for growing plants in containers
Container gardening does not require a lot of tools and gardening equipment. That said, there are a few things that will make your life easier.
In addition to containers, it is worth buying *hand putty. You can use it for most planting and transplanting tasks, and it's also handy for weeding.
I would also suggest a decent pair *gardening glovesto protect your hands. Look for a pair where you can move properly in them - it sounds like a no-brainer, but not every pair will fit.
I think *Konewkait is also an essential element of the set. Choose one with a "pink" tip to avoid washing the top layer of compost into the pots with plenty of water. I really like using my daughter *mini konewkainto my smaller containers as it makes it easier to control the flow.
finally a couple*pruning shearsuseful for trimming and cutting.
It's really all you need to grow plants in containers. If you want, you can of course let yourself be carried away by all kinds of extra goodies!
More garden inspirations
For other garden projects and ideas, check out these posts.
Drought tolerant plants for hot, dry weather
12 flowers that can easily be grown from seed
10 easy to grow vegetables
How to grow a herb garden on the windowsill
The best tools for growing seeds
How to grow a sustainable garden
Gardening every month
Simple ways to prepare your garden for summer
You may also like to see mineContainer Gardening Pinterest Board, and my blog posts atbest winter plants for pots,spring flowers for pots and hanging baskets,great summer potted plants, iautumn flowers in pots. I also have a useful listhanging plants for hanging baskets and pots.
I hope this guide to the best low maintenance houseplants has given you plenty of ideas and inspiration for container gardening and will help you create a beautiful display in containers. Which houseplants are at the top of your wish list?
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