White patio hydrangea with child smelling flowers

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Magical Moonlight’ is an eye-catching focal point for the patio
Image copyright: Visions BV, Netherlands

Here’s everything you need to know about growing patio plants. Whether you want to brighten a shady patio with hardy annuals, learn how to divide your potted perennials or find the best acer for autumn colour, you’ll learn all the answers in this selection of helpful content from expert garden bloggers.

Ready to place an order? Browse our full range of patio plants to find garden ready plants, spectacular shrubs and even small trees.

Use flowering shrubs for easy colour

Red dwarf buddleja in patio pot

Dwarf buddlejas make excellent shrubs for patio containers
Image: Buddleja ‘Butterfly Candy Little Ruby’ from Thompson & Morgan

Maturing at just 80cm tall, Buddleja ‘Butterfly Candy Little Ruby’ is just one of the ten best compact plants and shrubs for patios suggested by T&M’s horticultural team. Unusually for a buddleja, it has intense deep red flowers that look beautiful against the green-grey foliage. Read the full article for more ways to jazz up your patio pots this summer.

Don’t stick to flowers and bulbs

Citrus fruit on a mini fruit tree

Citrus fruits thrive in a sunny spot on a patio or balcony
Image: @loulous_allotment

It’s not just flowers and foliage that thrive in patio containers – you can grow mini fruit trees too! Instagrammer Louise at @loulous_allotment proudly harvested her very first blood orange from her container grown citrus tree. “Oh my, it was absolutely delicious!” she says. “I’m only sad that there aren’t 100 of them!” Scroll through her images to see the mouth-watering result!

Underplant potted shrubs with colourful climbers

Purple acer plant with white hydrangea flowers

Acer ‘Flamingo’ looks fantastic draped with a purple flowering clematis
Image: @dawns_gardening

Over at @dawns_gardening, Instagrammer Dawn knows how to make a splash. She underplants a leafy acer ‘Flamingo’ with a flowering clematis ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’ to create something really special. This colourful climber twines its way up the tree to form a unique and striking focal point for any patio. In this pair, the deep pink clematis flowers really bring out the delicate pink of acer ‘Flamingo’s pretty variegated leaves. Scroll through Dawn’s images for more patio inspiration.

Choose drought-tolerant plants for pots to reduce watering

Purple verbena flowers in rented patio

Use pots in a rented space to create a greener, brighter garden
Image: The Middlesized Garden

In a brilliant interview with specialist container garden designer Shaun Mooney, Alexandra of The Middlesized Garden discusses the best patio containers to choose and the best types of plants to put in them. “Larger containers retain water better than smaller ones, so you will find it’s easier to look after plants in one trough than it is to look after a group of plants in pots,” she says. And planting drought-tolerant plants that don’t mind the odd dry spell makes watering easier too. There are loads of essential water and money-saving tips here, especially if you’re container gardening in a rental garden where you’re not able to make permanent changes.

Fill pots with eye-catching foliage plants like hostas

Hostas in containers in shade

Icy blue hosta leaves are perfectly offset by warm orange terracotta
Image: Gardeners Cottage Blakeney

Hostas are fantastic foliage plants. They can’t be beaten for their variety of leaf forms, shapes and eye-catching shades of blue and green. Watch this short video made by the experts at Gardeners Cottage Blakeney to see their enviable collection of colourful hostas in attractive terracotta pots. Standing them on gravel also helps to keep the plants safe from pesky slugs and snails. Their top tip for container-grown hostas? Just keep the soil moist.

Divide patio perennials to keep them healthy

Dividing alstroemeria potted plant

Give roots more room by dividing your perennial patio plants
Image: DIY Home and Gardening

Patio perennials like alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ benefit from division early in the year, explains YouYuber Ian at his channel DIY Home and Gardens. Watch his helpful video as he demonstrates how to neatly split his alstroemeria’s root ball into smaller chunks with a sharp spade. Then he pots up the newly divided pieces to create even more colourful plants for the summer.

Re-pot your patio hydrangeas every few years

Repotting patio hydrangea

It looks messy but repotting keeps your patio hydrangeas healthy
Image: @anya_thegarden_fairy

If you’re looking for something big and dramatic to fill a patio container, @anya_thegarden_fairy likes hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ which can cope with a bit of sun. To keep it healthy and happy, she tops her container up with compost every year. But then, every three to four years, she repots her hydrangea, tackling the task in early spring to avoid damaging any emerging young buds. When you’ve finished, Anya recommends keeping your plant in the shade for a few days, “to reduce any initial stress.” See the whole process in her fantastic Insta video.

Show off smaller pots on a tiered stage

Colourful pansy display

Show off your spring patio displays using a homemade plant theatre
Image: Petunia ‘Frenzy Mixed’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Make a stage for your newly planted pots to shine. Instagrammer Thea does this by upcycling discarded wooden pallets from a local timber merchant and cleverly re-cutting and combining the layers. “It’s like an amphitheatre for more height,” she explains at her page @small_urban_garden. Arranging all her containers on the new pallet ‘steps’ is a great way to bring everything together into one fabulous display. Watch her Instagram reel to see how it looks!

Shady patios can also enjoy plenty of colour

Orange and yellow begonia flowers

Begonia tuberhybrida varieties perform well in shade
Image: Begonia tuberhybrida ‘Apricot Shades Improved’ F1 Hybrid from T&M

Don’t worry if you feel like your patio area is too shady for pots. Tuberous begonias do very well in shade and flower prolifically during the summer months. The garden experts at Thompson & Morgan recommend the cascading golden frothy blooms of Begonia tuberhybrida ‘Apricot Shades Improved’ to brighten up a gloomy seating area. Read the full article to find out how to care for these vibrant blooms in containers or window boxes.

Don’t forget plants for a fiery autumn display

Red acer leaves against blue wooden background

Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ turns a eye-catching red in the autumn
Image: @wilkinsonrae

Want to turn heads in autumn? Grow Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, recommends award-winning garden designer Rae Wilkinson. Scroll through the photos of her container trees for inspiration – they look particularly stunning against the dark walls in her courtyard. “They provide some of the most dramatic Autumn colour of any of the Japanese maples,” says Rae. Find out how she keeps her acers looking their best over at her Instagram page @wilkinsonrae. 

For more excellent information on how to fill your patio with colour and interest, learn everything you need to know about growing patio plants over at our dedicated resource hub. Share your own photos and keep in touch via our Twitter and Instagram pages. We love to hear from you!

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