The 19 Best Patio Plants to Brighten Up Your Outdoor Space

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This article was originally published by Bethany Hayes on

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Patios aren’t just a transition from the indoors to the outdoors. They’re a part of the house, an outdoor living area where we have drinks, eat meals with friends and family, and read good books. One of the ways to make a patio feel special is to add several of the best patio plants around to transform the area into a perfect space where you want to spend some time.

You can find plants that thrive in your shady retreat or in full sunlight. No matter the shape, size, or exposure you receive on your patio, you can find a plant or two -or ten – that will make your space exactly what you envision.

The 19 Best Patio Plants

1. Pentas

If you’re hoping to invite pollinators to your patio, few plants attract as many as the pentas plant. It grows cheerful star-shaped flowers that bloom in large clusters. The flowers come in a multitude of colors, such as white, pink, lavender, or red. You can expect the blossoms to hang out all summer long on mounding plants that are 18 to 24 inches tall. The plants prefer full sunlight.

2. Lantana

Here is another flowering beauty that’s one of the best patio plants. Lantanas are known for being an invasive plant in warm areas, but some new cultivars don’t have the same vigorous growth. In a container, however, they’re perfect because they can’t get out of hand.

Lantana plants bloom continuously in warm, sunny weather. They’re known for being drought resistant, and these plants require a larger patio container to keep the aggressive roots happy.

3. Coleus

During your search for the best patio plants, you’ll probably stumble upon coleus. In the past 10 years, the cultivars of coleus have exploded, and now you can find a leaf color to match almost any decor or plan imaginable.

Coleus grows well in full sunlight or shade. You need to keep the plant well watered for proper growth. Make sure to deadhead the lavender flower spikes to keep the plant looking bushy. You can also leave the spikes on the plant to attract hummingbirds to your patio – and everyone loves visits from hummingbirds!

4. Elephant Ears

Do you want to add a tropical flair to your patio? Elephant ears are impressively large plants with heart-shaped leaves. This plant comes in different shades from green and white variegated to dark purple.

Elephant ears are a tropical plant, so that means you need to bring the plant inside during cold weather. They also work well as a year-round houseplant. Be aware that these plants can grow to be tall, reaching 3-5 feet tall, so you need to have space no matter where you decide to keep it!

5. Coreopsis

Coreopsis is a hardy wildflower that works great in containers and patios. Sometimes, gardeners refer to this plant as pot of gold or tickseed. It also works great in a wildflower garden, producing flowers in many shades, such as red, pink, orange, and yellow. The foliage is light and airy.

6. Croton

Most houseplant sections of general stores sell croton plants, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put them on your patio. Crotons make an excellent patio plant, and when exposed to regular sun and rain outdoors, they’ll grow much larger than their indoor counterparts.

These plants have rainbow-hued leaves in orange, red, yellow, and other shades. They thrive in full sunlight and only needs moderate watering.

7. Bromeliad

Here is another patio plant option for those going with a tropical look to their decor. Bromeliad is a tropical plant with stripey leaves in bright colors. These add a fun patio accent, even if your plant decides not to bloom – which can happen at times.

Bromeliad plants fade after blooming, but you can repot the new growths that form around the mother plant. That means you can keep an ever-growing supply of bromeliad plants on your patio.

8. Caladium

Growing plants in the shade can be a challenge since a majority of container plants prefer sunlight. Caladiums love the full shade and they’re beautiful! Their leaves are a variegated shade of white to orange along with spots of green.

Caladium plants don’t like the cold weather, and bulbs grow slowly or not at all if placed in the cold soil. When the warm temperatures strike, this plant bursts into life and continues to thrive in sizzling temps, though it needs plenty of water. It’s known for being pest-free. so it’s a fantastic addition to any container garden.

9. Flowering New Guinea Impatiens

If you have a shady place on your patio that needs some color, one of the best-potted plants for shade is the New Guinea impatiens. This plant does well in a shady outdoor space or indoors as a houseplant. It blooms abundantly into the fall months if you deadhead regularly.

You might be hesitant to try impatiens because they are prone to downy mildew disease. However, the New Guinea impatiens are unaffected by this disease, which takes away one of the worries you might have by adding this flower to your patio.

10. Heliotrope

Adding aromatic plants to your patio helps to spread delicious scents around you as you bask in the sunlight or settle in with a good book on a cool morning. Heliotrope has a sweet vanilla scent that grows violet blossoms clusters.

This plant is native to Peru, but it does well in most container gardens. These plants need full sun or partial shade to grow well. They also need rich soil to thrive.

11. Begonia

Begonias come in dozens of varieties and colors, so it’s easy to find the one that works perfectly for your decor and patio. Since there are lots of different varieties, they all have different growing needs. Begonias add a pop of color and they grow well in sun or shade. They’re drought tolerant.

12. Emerald & Gold Wintercreeper

You might associate this plant with a shrub, but some varieties are compact and perfect for containers. These variations are green and gold that sometimes takes on a pink tinge.

These shrubs grow to be two or three feet tall, and as wide as four to six feet. That means you need to purchase a container that is spacious. The size of these plants can make a large impact on your patio.

13. Million Bells

If you want a plant that shows off dozens of blooms, million bells are right up your lane. This plant has showy tubular blossoms that look like petunias without the pests that love to bother them. However, the difference is that a million bells grow prolifically in high temperatures.

This plant grows well in containers when they cascade over the side, spilling downward. They come in different colors, such as purple and pink.

14. Cosmos

Cosmos can brighten anyone’s day with their daisy-like, colorful appearance. These are tall flowers that come in multiple colors, such as pink, yellow, orange, white, and red. You can pair cosmos with plants that have silver foliage for an extra pop.

Cosmos do well in containers. Over the growing season, you’ll end up with dozens of flowers that you can use for fresh flower arrangements.

15. English Ivy

English ivy is a classic patio plant that anyone can quickly identify. It has shiny, dark green leaves that make an excellent backdrop for other plants. Gardeners can add English ivy to their container plants by taking cuttings and propagating more plants.

16. Fountain Grass

Sometimes, you need an impact plant for your patio, and fountain grass does that for your aesthetics. This grass has bushy red flowers and long stems that make a dramatic statement. You can grow fountain grass in garden beds or containers, and they can be kept indoors all year-round or on a rotational basis.

Remember that fountain grass is a tropical grass, so it needs to be protected from the danger of frost. They can go outside and adapt to life outside, but don’t leave them outside permanently.

17. Clematis

Some variations of clematis are great for growing in containers. While it can be grown as a climbing part, it does work well as a trailing plant. It makes an attractive choice as one of the best patio plants.

Clematis need a large container to help protect the roots especially in areas that receive freezing temperatures. You might be able to leave these plants outside with a thick layer of mulch if you have a sheltered area.

18. Hibiscus

Another tropical plant is hibiscus and it blooms giant flowers in neon, bright colors. Without a doubt, they’re one of the best patio plants that add a splash of color and appeal to your decor.

Since these are tropical plants, hibiscus needs plenty of sunshine and water to keep their bold blossoms growing until fall. Be aware that these plants are sensitive to cold temperatures. They shut down rapidly after temps drop below 50 degrees. Hibiscus does best in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees F.

19. Ornamental Peppers

The last option for the best patio plants is ornamental peppers. Who said you need flowers to have an attractive plant? The ornamental peppers shine brightly in the sunlight, and they love the hot temperatures of summertime.

They grow well in large pots that don’t dry out too quickly. Peppers don’t want to be in dry soil, so they need regular watering.

Picking the Best Patio Plants

Not all plants do well in containers or on patios, bu these 19 plants grow well in pots. Make sure you look at where you want to keep your plants and pick ones determined on how much sunlight the spot receives. Not all plants handle little to no shade well! With so many choices, you’ll find the best patio plants for your home.

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