>
 

Bookmark and Share

14 Container Plants For Your Container Garden

If your thinking about starting a container garden make sure to check out these 14 contianer plants.

Lindsay Evans

May 31, 2013

 /images/articles/gurdonark.flickr.jpg

Hens-and-Chicks photo courtesy Robert Nunnally

Your patio offers the ideal place to create a colorful oasis of container plants. Dwarf trees, climbing vines, vibrant flowers and hardy succulents – all can fell equally at home on your patio and create the ultimate garden getaway. Some plants do better in containers than others, though. Knowing which plants can thrive in containers will set you in the right direction when planning your garden design. With the right plants paired with the appropriate care, your patio garden will positively pop with the flourishing foliage and color.

Here is a run-down of some of the most desirable plants for container gardening. Follow these easy steps for planting and maintenance of your garden, keeping in mind your patio’s growing conditions, such as hours of sunlight and the U.S.D.A.’s hardiness zone.

Trees

Slow-growing and dwarf tree varieties remain the best choices for container gardens. If your tree is not hardy year-round in your location, move it to a protected place for the winter.

Garden designer Lucy Hardiman, of Portland Ore., favors those types of trees. She uses containers extensively when designing for her clients and her personal garden. Hardiman, who has 25 years of experience with container gardening, recommends using pots with plenty of room for the plants to grow.

"Even experienced gardeners tend to gravitate to pots that are too small,” she says. According to Hardiman, plant roots heat up quickly in hot weather and compete in undersized pots, "For a dwarf tree or shrub, the pot should be 12 inches larger in diameter than the root ball of the plant,” she advises.

Try these attractive selections of your patio garden.

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum;”Shaina”).  A classic for container gardens, this globe-shaped true Japanese maple is dense and compact. Hardiman describes the Japanese maples spring foliage as "bright red deepening to burgundy” with the cycle ending in "incendiary crimson autumn coloration.

When to pant: spring to early summer
Size: 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide
Water needs: Water regularly.
Light needs: shade to partial shade
Growing region: Hardy in zones 5 to 9

Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtuse;”Split Rock”). Pyramid-shaped, slow-growing Hinoki cypress features interesting, curvy fans that create a wavy textural effect. The Hinoki cypresses foliage emerges as blue and turns to green, creating a eye-catching visual appearance.

When to plant: spring to early summer
Size: 6 feet tall by 2 feet wide
Water needs: Water regularly, especially during the summer.
Light needs: full sun to partial shade
Growing region: hardy in zones 4 to 8

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). Grow this tropical delight for large, bright blooms nearly year-round for your container garden.
When to plant: spring to early summer
Water needs: Water when the soil feels dry.
Light needs: full sun
Growing region: hardy in zones 10 and higher
Special care: Hibiscus is a sun-loving plant native to tropical Asia and Hawaii. If your climate is a far cry from tropical, you still can enjoy growing this stunning plant. Do not expose it to temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended time. Fertilize heavily and often. Bring the container inside your home when temperatures drop below 60 degrees F.

Shrubs

Just like trees, dwarf or slow-growing shrubs thrive in containers. Choose flowering shrubs, like these below, for a colorful visual effect.

Azalea (Rhododendron spp.) Large, showy blooms add color to your garden. Look for dwarf varieties bred for container gardening.

When to plant: spring to early summer
Size: Dwarf varieties are 3 feet tall by 3 ½ feet wide.
Water needs: Keep soil moist, but do not overwater. It might cause root rot.
Light needs: part shade
Growing regions: zones 5 to 9. Protect from frost in colder climates.
Special care: Azaleas need little to no fertilizer and, in fact, can be damaged by over-fertilizing. Mix some compost in the potting soil, and apply organic mulch to the pot. Prune your azaleas each year during the early spring before new buds form. Remove last year’s blooms to make room for new growth and flowers.

Dwarf Lily of the Valley shrub (Pieris japonica and P. Cavatine).The dwarf lily of the valley shrub ranks top in both container suitability and visual appeal. Cream-colored, delicate flowers are striking set against deep-evergreen foliage.

When to plant: spring to early summer
Size: 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide
Water needs: Water when the soil feels dry.
Light needs: full sun to partial shade
Growing region: hardy in zones 6 to 8

Climbers and Vines

Climbing plants add a vertical element to your overall patio garden design and can be useful for privacy, too. Locate your containers next to an existing trellis or fence to provide support, or place containers next to each other next to each post of a pergola.

Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda;”Multijuga”). This Japanese wisteria produces long racemes of fragrant lilac-blue flowers, a perfect romantic touch to hang down a fence of pergola.

When to plant: spring to early summer
Size: 2 feet tall with long trailing vines
Water needs: Water regularly; this plant is fairly drought-tolerant.
Light needs: full sun
Growing region: hardy in zones 5 to 9
Special care: Wisteria prefers a well-drained sandy soil. Regular pruning is essential to the health and the appearance of the plant. Prune in the summer and the winter, training vines to climb the support

Passion flower (Passiflora spp.). You surely will get curious inquires from passersby about this unique plant. Passion flowers tropical-looking blooms are showy and last all summer long. Look for P. sanguinolenta, which is a particularly good choice for container gardens. Bees and butterflies will stop by to enjoy it, too!

When to plant: spring
Size: climbing vines up to 15 feet
Water needs: Water regularly; the plant is fairly drought-tolerant.
Light needs: full sun
Growing region: hardy in zones 8 to 10
Special care: Bring your passion flower plant indoors to overwinter when temperatures fall to 60 degrees F. Regular pruning is essential to the health and appearance of the plant.

Flowers

For many gardens, flowers are simply the reason to be gardening at all. Vibrant blooms deliver a joyful feast for the senses, which many consider to be the ultimate garden reward. Pick from the prolific bloomers below, and you won’t be disappointed.

Geranium (Pelargonium spp.). A quintessential container flower, patio plantings might look incomplete without sunny, easy-to-grow geraniums. Pick up several starts for your containers or hanging baskets. Scented-leaf geraniums release a pleasing smell when you brush your fingers against the plant as you walk by.

When to plant: spring to early summer
Size: depends on the variety, up to 24 inches tall
Water needs: Water regularly.
Light needs: full sun to partial shade
Growing region: hardy in zones 9 and above
Special care: Fertilize twice a season with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Remove the entire flower stalk after blooming to encourage more blooms. Bring geraniums indoors to overwinter in cold climates.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Easy-to-grow nasturtiums add bright and sunny blooms to your container garden. Add its edible flowers and leaves to your salad mix for a peppery bite.

When to plant: spring; direct sow into outdoor containers after last frost.
Size: Bushy plants are 12 to 18 inches high; trailing plants can grow to 8 feet.
Water needs: Allows soil to dry between watering.
Light needs: full sun; will tolerate some shade
Growing regions: This annual plant will readily grow in most climates.
Special care: Too rich a soil will produce abundant foliage but fewer blooms. Plant nasturtiums is a sunny spot, and do not fertilize.

Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.). Fuchsias look beautiful in hanging baskets and thrive in patio containers, too. Their bright blooms last throughout the summer and come in a range of attractive colors.

When to plant: spring
Size: 1 to 2 feet
Water needs: Water regularly, and mist plant regularly with water in dry climates.
Light needs: full to partial shade
Growing region: hardy in zones 9 and 10
Special care: Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer regularly throughout the growing season. Fuchsias prefer shady spot with moderate temperatures and can become stressed in hot, dry weather. Bring indoors when temperatures fall below 50 degrees F.

Begonia (Begonia spp.). Begonias are often grown as indoor ornamental houseplants. They also do well, however, outdoors on a porch or patio in cooler climates.

When to plant: spring
Size: depends on the variety; 6 inches to 3 feet
Water needs: Water regularly.
Light needs: shade to partial sun
Growing region: hardly in zones 10 and higher. Some hardy begonias (B. grandis ssp.) can be grown year-round to zone 6.
Special care: Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season. Bring containers indoors when temperatures fall below 50 degrees F.

Succulents

Well-designed succulent container plantings look fantastic in a patio garden or along a walkway. Succulents are nearly fool-proof, look great and thrive in containers with minimal care.

Succulents do best when planted in a wide, shallow container.  Use special cactus or succulent potting mix and, after planting, cover the top of the soil with rocks. Water thoroughly after transplanting, then let the soil dry out between waterings.

Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum spp.) Hens-and-Chicks spread and multiples by producing baby "chicks” in your container. Chicks can be transplanted to a new container if desired.

When to plant: spring or summer
Size: up to 6 inches tall
Water needs:  Water occasionally; drought-tolerant
Light need: full sun to part sun
Growing region: hardy in zones 5 to 9

Stonecrop (Sedum spp.).Sedum comes in many varieties, all of which can be fun for container gardening. Read plant tags to determine the color of leaves and flowers as well as typical size. Varieties to look for include Autumn Joy, October Daphne and Angelia. Many sedums stay green when pampered but turn shades of yellow to red when stressed by soil, light or water conditions.

When to plant: spring or summer
Size: depends on the variety
Water needs: Water occasionally; succulents are drought-tolerant.
Light needs: full sun to part sun.
Growing region: hardy in zones 4 to 10

Echeveria (Echeveria spp.).This beautiful succulent is not very cold-hardy, making it a perfect candidate to bring indoors in the winter. Echeverias come in a wide range of variations and colors; consult the plant tag for specifics.
When to plant: spring or summer
Size: depends on the variety; around 6 to 18 inches tall
Water needs: Water occasionally; the plant is drought-tolerant.
Living needs:  full sun to part sun
Growing region: hardy in zones 9 to 11

These plants are only the beginning of the beauties you can grow in your patio garden. Complete your patio garden design by experimenting with other container-ready plants, like fruits and vegetables, and you’ll have a beautiful, blossoming patio this year.

Click here to checkout these 7 tips about container gardening.

Give us your opinion on 14 Container Plants For Your Container Garden.
Submit Comment »
Great tips! I also learned a lot in this online video: http://www.gardentribe.com/urban-container-design It taught me how to grow some really cool projects.
Sidney, San Francisco, CA
Posted: 9/26/2014 8:31:36 AM
If you're interested in urban farming, check out our handmade garden boxed with irrigation! https://www.etsy.com/listing/201492810/fully-irrig- ated-garden-boxes
Lizzie, Clinton, NC
Posted: 8/28/2014 8:43:06 AM
This is so AMAZING!! I am totally going plant shopping today!!
Sonja, International
Posted: 4/18/2014 6:44:18 AM
Great info.
Sarah, Marathon, ON
Posted: 4/14/2014 12:18:33 PM

Featured Product

Popular Farming: Heirloom Farm | More Info »

Related Articles

Advertiser Links

Top Products
d
Gold Standard

*Content generated by our loyal visitors, which includes comments and club postings, is free of constraints from our editors’ red pens, and therefore not governed by I-5 Publishing, LLC’s Gold Standard Quality Content, but instead allowed to follow the free form expression necessary for quick, inspired and spontaneous communication.

Would you like to receive Farmer in the City Newsletters?X Close Window
Please provide us with your email address in order to access this valuable sustainable-living content.
Fields marked with an asterisk * are required.
* Are you at least 13 years old?
YesNo
* First Name:
* Last Name:
* Email:
* City:
* State/Province:
* Enter the code shown:

  Yes, I would like to get valuable information from UrbanFarmOnline.com.
In order to opt-out of our newsletters, you can click on the "unsubscribe" link in the bottom of the newsletter.
  Yes, I would like to get valuable information from UrbanFarmOnline.com partners.