Porches and patios need some summer patio containers added to make them inviting. We all love the lushness of the outdoors, but it can get confusing about what plant will work in your space. Here are some excellent patio plants we recommend for creating height, fragrance, and even for eating!
It's that time of year when we throw open the windows and hover on our screened-in porches, patios, and decks! The pollen has been washed away by spring rains and the pressure washer, the pillows are fluffed, and now it's time to add our favorite flowers and plants to lush up the space.
How Much Sun Do You Get?
But first, there are a few things you have for homework before adding to your shopping cart. Let's check to see how much sun you're getting in the space. If a landscape designer were to ask, "Do you get full sun?" What would you say? You may think it means does it get sun in this spot. That is not what that question really means, so we have to clarify.
Full sun means 6-8 hours of sun per day. Part sun is 4-6 hours of morning shade and afternoon sun. Part Shade is 4-6 hours or morning sun and afternoon shade. And shade is 2-4 hours of direct sunlight and dappled the rest of the day. We know that sounds technical, but it does matter to your plants! Stay with us here!
You may be wondering what the difference is between the part sun and the part shade; they're still the same number of hours! Noooo, in this case, they're not the same. Morning sun is a cooler heat, whereas the afternoon sun is more intense and hotter. Your plants are smart, and they know the difference. Some plants can't tolerate the heat, and it will burn their leaves. Ouch! That's why it's necessary to distinguish how much light you're getting in the spot you're going to place your plant.
How To Measure How Much Sun You Get
If you're not sure how much your patio or deck is getting, take a day and observe it each half-hour. Get out the crayons, and draw a diagram of your patio. Then in each hour, draw out where the sun is shining. This process will make you more familiar with the light conditions. After accessing the amount of sun, it gets in the spots where you plan to plant; you can choose the "right plant for the right place!"
Adding height, different sizes, leaf shapes, and flowering and edible plants make any patio or deck more interesting! Coordinating the color of your patio containers with the seating cushions can also add some punch to the design plan.
Add Height on the Patio, Porch, or Deck
To create a wall or a subliminal ceiling to the space, add height to your container plantings to make it seem cozier. You can do this by getting a taller container and adding our Cat Palm. This palm likes bright, indirect light or part shade, which is 4-6 hours of morning sun. If you live in hardiness planting zones 11 & 12, this means your nights stay above 40°F, and it can stay out during the colder months of the year. For all others, transfer this lovely creature inside once nights dip below 50°F at night. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and it also likes high humidity levels. If you bring it in after the summer, be sure to add a humidifier close by and a pebble tray to keep it happy. To fertilize, use our liquid fertilizer monthly in its container throughout the growing season and drop off in the winter months. And bonus, this one is safe for your fur babies if they tend to hang out near the plant.
Another fun idea to create height is the Star Jasmine. This one is another favorite of ours because of its divine fragrance. You've probably familiar with the floral scent in home products such as candles, lotions, and air sprays. Now you can grow it yourself. Add a free-standing trellis in the container and watch it reach new heights of 6 feet. Find a nice sunny spot that gets a full 6-8 hours of sun to part shade (4-6 hours of the morning sun a day).
This evergreen vine favors humidity, so make sure it's near a water source or keep it humid during the day. We recommend protecting it from the afternoon sun in dryer climates, so the leaves don't scorch. If you live in plant hardiness zones eight or above, you can plant this in the ground along a fence or provide it a place to spread its vine growing outward and upward. Check the soil weekly and give it a drink when it becomes dry. You'll see fewer blooms on it if it isn't watered on a schedule. In hardiness zones 8-11, you can treat this as an evergreen vine. For plant hardiness zones below 8, treat it as an annual. If you plant it in the ground, a good compost added to the soil will suffice. If you're using it as a container planting, use a diluted fertilizer at 1/2 strength when you plant it.
Keep in mind; this one is safe for your furry friends too.
Add Edibles to Your Summer Patio Container Gardens
Tuscan Blue Rosemary
Are you a foodie? Chef extraordinaire? You'll love the smell as you brush by the next one. Our Tuscan Blue Rosemary comes in a 1 + 5-gallon size grower pot. Team this Mediterranean culinary herb with oregano, sage, thyme, and lavender since they all like the same kind of sunlight and like their soil to be kept relatively dry. This addition to your patio ensemble will add a culinary container garden to the repertoire and keep your running out to the patio for a sprig! This one is not only safe for humans to eat but also for your furry pets.
To care for this one, let the soil dry between waterings and ensure you give it enough, so the water discharges through the drainage holes. They don't like wet or soggy soil, so if you have several days of pouring rain, you may want to put it under cover so it can begin to dry. Humidity levels around this plant need to be between 45-55%, so if you live in a desert, this might not survive well unless you put it beside a fountain or pond where humidity is higher.
Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer or a diluted liquid fertilizer like our Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro. You'll want to stop fertilizing eight weeks before the first frost date in your hardiness zone. Check out our blog on the hardiness zone map to see when your first frost date is in the fall. If you are below zone 8, you will treat this plant as an annual in your area.
Now, for a fun fact: this culinary herb is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and can help with intelligence and focus. In that case, load up your shopping cart! We all need help with those attributes, right!?
So we've covered adding height to the patio or deck container garden with the cat palm and star jasmine, along with the fragrance of the star jasmine and Tuscan Blue Rosemary. There is one more we want to mention in the fragrance category.
Add Fragrance to Your Patio Garden and Linger Longer
Gardenia 'Vetchii'. It is a dwarf sized gardenia reaching 4' tall with a 3' wide spread, making it an excellent showoff in a patio container. With the white flower's fragrance, you'll want to add more than one to the patio. It needs full sun to partial shade, and its glossy evergreen leaves can be a showstopper in the winter if you're in zones eight or above. If you're in a lower zone, you should wrap it well around its roots and place it in a greenhouse over the winter; otherwise, you can use it as an annual shrub. Keep the soil moist on this one but not soggy. Keep your moisture meter close by to check it before watering. We recommend using a 6-4-4 fertilizer or a slow-release.
Add Colorful Foliage
Adding color is so vital to the patio containers. We can't forget to mention our wonderful caladium collection. Those rich reds, pinks, and whites are gorgeous and add such a splash of celebration to each patio container. They last so long and never have to worry about deadheading or waiting for the next flush of blooms because they stay colorful throughout the season.
Now, you have some container garden ideas for planting on your patio, deck, or screened-in porch. Let us know what you got, send us pictures on social media, and tag us with the hashtag #livelyroot. We can't wait to see your display!