Top 10 hardy plants for pots for outdoors
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For many people, outdoor spaces have become just as important as indoor spaces. Growing beautiful plants in pots is a way to extend the inviting space of the interior, to the exterior. Outdoor potted plants help create ambience and decorate any seating areas where you might spend your time. Of course, if you are planning on growing plants outdoors they need to be hardy plants if you want something more permanent, ones that can withstand the fluctuating temperatures and will look spectacular no matter what season or at least survive the winter to promote colour the following spring and summer. That is why we have reviewed our top 10 hardy plants for pots for outdoors.
Our favourite potted plants for patios
Skimmia Japonica ‘Rubella’
This is an evergreen shrub that is quite compact which makes it suitable for balconies, patios, no matter how small your outdoor space is this is perfect for growing on pots. It is particularly popular outside because it provides beautiful colour all year round. For most of the year, you can enjoy the evergreen foliage in and of itself, which ranges in shades and is certain to add visual appeal when you are outside.
And then come winter this plant is punctuated by stunning redbuds, followed immediately after by fragrant white flowers come springtime. This makes it useful not just aesthetically but in terms of adding a delicious scent to your garden. What’s more, the nectar this plant produces is wonderful for attracting bees so anyone can bring plant-friendly friends to their garden and help how struggling population of bees. Heavily buzzing bees will no doubt at a symphony of sounds to your outdoor ambience. Rest assured this is a very strong shrub with next to no issues, so you can, as a beginner, plant it and then walk away just attending to watering when needed. A stunning evergreen plant that is perfect for shrubs and provides winter colour.
Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald and Gold’
This evergreen shrub has variegated foliage then it gets its name from the yellow, gold like hues interspersed with the emerald green. Standing quite tall, the emerald and gold are not the only two colours you can enjoy. All year round it will offer a different colour scheme, in the centre of winter becoming pinkish red. This is a very versatile plant which is perfect for creating privacy. You can grow this as a hedge or screen in containers, even small hedges planted in troughs that you might want to sit along the railing to provide you privacy around your balcony or used as stand-alone containers to create smaller spaces within a larger garden. The height can be maintained as you see fit.
Laurus Nobilis (Bay tree)
This plant is a more formal shrub which you can shape into miniature topiary or form as a smaller hedge in a trough as pictured above. The high-quality appearance they offer as elegance to any formal garden area. This particular variety is very hardy so it will survive well outside, responds well to shaping and pruning so you can have the exact display you want, and of course, offers brightly coloured flowers throughout the year to welcome people to your outdoor space as well as being used as a kitchen herb. Sometimes they will need to be protected with frost fleece in very cold winters.
The agapanthus is particularly effective in patio containers. The plant is unique in so far as, when the roots become constricted, more energy is put into creating stunning flowers. This is why it does so well in patio containers especially slightly smaller containers that for the root construction and, as a result, provide you with an impressive display. So popular are these plants that they are now a favourite of UK gardens with every colour available from deep blue and violet to pure white, and everything in between. You can get evergreen varieties that provide colour all year round.
This is the perfect flower to grow in your garden if you plan to take cuttings for displays in your home. The variety Summer Breeze which is one of many stunning varieties offers lush foliage with orange and yellow blooms that stand juxtaposed by the hunter green and certainly catch the eye.
It grows in a compact, upright form, so it will stand perfectly when displayed on patio tables, not stretching its growth out to the sides. The stems are quite strong and the upright design is in large part what contributes to the ability to successfully cut stems as they are in full bloom and display them in other parts of your home. This is a perennial plant which means it will flower regularly from June through November and is perfect for growing in containers and grow to around 60 to 90cm tall.
Callistemon viminalis ‘Hot Pink’ (Bottlebrush)
If you were looking for something that’s unusual in texture, this native Australian plant is the perfect solution. It is a bottle brush plant so the flower blooms are frothy, and they take on a hot pink colour hence the name. This particular plant can also be used to take cut stems and grow indoors in a vase, offering an aesthetic appeal that differs wildly from the plants you might purchase already cut from the store. It flowers very early and attracts bees and butterflies to your garden. This plant requires a sheltered area so it is perfect for a small corner in your patio or on your balcony. Although it is classed as hardy we recommend covering it with fleece in very cold periods of winter.
Hebe ‘High Voltage’
This shrub is incredibly strong and one of the hundreds of varieties of Hebes that can also be used in containers to provide all year round colour in containers. The high-voltage variety is an ideal specimen for a container because it’s smaller size allows it to grow quite contently in small patio pots. The flowers will appear in the summer on the short spikes and grow so much that they envelop the entire shrub. Every spike on the plant will boast a deep, electric blue and as the flowers mature they transform into a pure white. But no matter the colour they have, they will attract bees and butterflies easily. It gets its name from the fact that, during freezing winter months, the foliage changes colour and is no longer a deep green but a bronze shade, so the leaves and the flowers will transform and change colour throughout the year making it a brilliant choice for containers all year round.
Buddleja Buzz (Dwarf butterfly bush)
This dwarf butterfly bush can be purchased in a collection known as The Buzz 3 in 1. Why is it called this? Because there are 3 different varieties to choose from, sky blue, buzz ivory and buzz magenta. The butterfly bush is great for attracting butterflies to your garden and it does come in a range of colours, but the problem is butterflies tend to visit just one of the colours, the traditional Violet and not so much the other colours. This is a compact bush and the flower spikes are incredibly fragrant so in addition to the pollinators you can enjoy the aroma it adds to your outdoor seating area. It grows in a compact, upright fashion with flowers all summer long so you don’t have to worry about it spreading too far beyond the perimeter of the pot. Most buddleias grow far too big for containers so this is a great option for those who can only grow them in containers.
Lavatera Barnsley Baby (Mallow bush)
Another upright beauty is the lavatera. This is a dwarf variety of the commonly found plant among cottage gardens. It has a branching design with soft pink flowers that grow along the racemes. During the summer the saucer-shaped flowers will attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden and is sure to draw the attention of anyone who stops by for a visit. Once it gets established it needs very little maintenance and in fact, will survive through periods of drought just fine.
Syringa ‘Flowerfest Pink’ (Dwarf lilac
Another dwarf variety for your patio is this dwarf Lilac. If you have ever grown lilacs you know that they tend to flower at the end of spring but with this dwarf variety, the show doesn’t end then and there. The flowers will continue from spring into summer with a second flush of incredibly fragrant flower clusters that will last until the first frost. This is very neat in compact variety that grows well in pots, brings butterflies, and requires very little maintenance.
Overall there are ample flowers that thrive in containers and will do very well when left outside all season long. You can mix and match different containers with any of these top 10 hardy plants in order to generate the flower and colour display that you want most.