Overview of patio with flowers in containers

Liven up your patio with container-grown flowers and plants
Image: Sophie McAulay/Shutterstock

Adding a vibrant element to your patio area through plants, flowers, shrubs and grasses is a great idea. Not only do plants add colour and texture; they make the space feel alive. But how do you decide what to grow? First, you’ll need to choose patio plants that suit the conditions in your garden. Some require full sun while others tolerate shade. But you’ll also want to select plants that fit with your design goals. Whether you’re planning a traditional terrace or a contemporary space, here’s how to design a planting scheme for your patio.

A modern patio – use plants as art installations

Selection of plants that can be grown in patio containers

Bamboo, fuchsias and hibiscus are all great choices for patio containers
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Contemporary patios look fantastic when they feature plants like art installations. Fill modern containers with tall, architectural and striking plants that can be grouped together and moved around the space. A few carefully positioned solar stake lights will illuminate the foliage and create a sense of drama as the sun goes down. Plants such as Musa basjoo, Fatsia ‘Camouflage’, or Pennisetum x advena ‘Fireworks’ all draw focus because of their structure. Bamboo plants also provide an element of screening if your patio is overlooked.

Alternatively, go for splashes of block colour to create a modern visual effect. If your patio is grey, choose fiery coloured plants and flowers by way of contrast. If your patio has an earthy tone, silver, blue and purple plants will bring it to life. Plants such as fuchsias, gazanias, or hibiscus are all great options to bring colour to your patio. Planted in containers, raised beds or the ground, their bright blooms work well en masse or as single specimens.

A traditional patio – naturalistic planting scheme

Warm coloured patio with plants in containers

Traditional patios often feature warm, earthy tones
Copyright: Primethorpe Paving

To give a traditional patio a warm and welcoming feel, choose a range of softly textured plants, flowers and shrubs to allow the eye to explore the space naturally. Plants that soften hard edges of the patio have classic appeal.

A complementary colour scheme is gentler than one filled with sharp contrasts. Our range of perennial plants for pollinators works well with traditional earth-coloured patios, containing many cottage garden favourites. Try hardy geraniums, coreopsis and peonies for a splash of colour. Soft grasses and roses also help to bring structure to a traditional space. If you’re using containers, choosing pots that closely match the patio makes the space look bigger and maintains the flow.

Choose a style and get creative

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo' from Thompson & Morgan

The Hibiscus ‘Apollo’ shrub blooms from May until October and reaches a height of 150cm
Image: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Apollo’ from Thompson & Morgan

Choosing the right patio plants begins with identifying those that will thrive in your growing conditions. Once you’ve done that, the options are endless. Whether you go for cool architectural foliage or frothy cascades of colourful blooms, the plants and flowers you choose can transform the feel of your outside space.

Treat your patio as if it were a room in your home. There’s no right or wrong, provided you know the effect you’re trying to achieve and work towards a cohesive scheme. For more inspiration and advice, head over to T&M’s dedicated patio plants hub page.

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