The best plants for your outdoor pots and containers (2022)

Potted plants are a great way of decorating your outdoor space, especially if you don’t have much in the way of a garden, grass, or instead have a paved garden or patio. You can move your pots about to chase the sun, shade, or if you’re just looking to give your garden a refresh without having to dig up the lawn.

Related: The best bedding plants for a bright summer garden

Not only that, but it makes caring for your plants even easier if you’re a bit of a plant-newbie, as each plant is standalone so you can give them the specific care they need and they’re less likely to get forgotten behind larger foliage or plants. That being said, these plants will depend on you for water and nutrients so don’t go too crazy collecting plants and pots until you’ve got your garden routine down to a tee.

But what are the best plants for your outdoor pots and containers?

Pots give you the option to grow most anything from bedding plants to herbs, small trees to shrubs and vegetables. We’ve listed some of the best for you to choose from.

What are the easiest outdoor pot plants?

There are two main types of plants, perennials, and annuals. If you’re looking for a plant that’s easiest to care for, choose a perennial or evergreen plant as they’ll continue to grow year after year. They tend to have a shorter flowering period compared to annuals but annual plants will grow, flower, and die in a particular season. They may drop seeds that'll grow new plants in the spring but otherwise, they will need to be replaced with new plants year on year. Not ideal if you're not particularly green-fingered.

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The majority of plants for containers are annuals, but there are some great hardy perennial options. We’ve listed just some of the best easy-care annuals and perennials that you can enjoy year-on-year or all year round.

What are the best plants for outdoor pots?

Best plants for pots:

1. Alstroemeria – ‘Indian Summer’

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The 'Indian Summer' alstroemeria will add a little sunshine to your patio with the sunset coloured blooms. Make sure to position in a sunny or semi-shaded spot with fertile, moist soil. Annual or perennial: Hardy perennialFlowering months: June - November

2. Chrysanthemum – Hardy Patio Mixed

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Add a blast of colour to your pots come autumn with these late bloomers. These neatly domed plants are perfect for patio pots and grow best in a position of full sun.Annual or perennial: Hardy perennialFlowering months: September - November

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3. Agapanthus – Blue and White Collection

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This collection includes the blue 'Queen of the Ocean' and white 'Polar Ice' agapanthus for a beautiful display. The architectural seed heads continue to grow well into autumn and thrive in sun or semi-shaded spots.Annual or perennial: Hardy perennialFlowering months: July - September

4. Begonias – Sweet n Spice Collection

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The Begonia Sweet n Spice Collection is made up of 'Sweet Spice Appleblossom' and 'Sweet Spice English Rose' for gorgeous, wonderfully fragrant, and weather-resistant blooms. House your begonias in a sunny or semi-shaded position that is protected from strong winds.Annual or perennial: Perennial but not frost hardyFlowering months: July - October

5. Coleus – Coleus Collection

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We love these flamboyant foliage plants that'll make a serious statement thanks to the five different varieties included in the collection. You should pop these plants in a sunny or semi-shaded position, and these can even be grown as houseplants if you want to bring some greenery indoors.Annual or perennial: Tropical perennials grown as annualsFlowering months: July - October

6. Busy Lizzies – ‘Accent Mixed’

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Busy Lizzies are a versatile plant thanks to their neat and compact habit and ability to grow in sun or shade. They'll keep blooming through sun and rain and well into the autumn too.Annual or perennial: Half-hardy annualFlowering months: June - October

7. Lavender – Hidcote

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Get your patio smelling and looking heavenly with a pot of English lavender. It'll add a pop of colour whilst adding a traditional touch.Annual or perennial: PerennialFlowering months: July - August

8. Clematis – Little Lemons

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Clematis 'Little Lemons' is a super-dwarf plant with a neat, bushy habit - perfect for potting! Plus, when the flowers fade at the end of the season, they're replaced by fluffy seed heads that provide a new lovely display.Annual or perennial: AnnualFlowering months: May - September

9. Cosmos – Cosmos Astrosanguineus ‘Chocamocha’

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The 'Chocomocha' cosmos not only has deep velvety blooms in rich cocoa shades - it smells like chocolate too. A must-have for chocoholics, it's great for your garden pots thanks to its compact nature.Annual or perennial: Half-hardy perennialFlowering months: July - October

10. Grasses – Architectural Grasses Collection

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Grass displays in and out of the home have grown in popularity in recent years, and adding these architectural grasses to your pots will help add texture and a sense of calm.Annual or perennial: Hardy perennialFlowering months: August - September

11. Hydrangeas – ‘Runaway Bride’

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Not only is this one of the most floriferous and vigorous hydrangeas, it was awarded RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2018. Add this award-winner to your outdoor pots for a little spectacle of your own.Annual or perennial: Hardy perennial shrubFlowering months: July - September

12. Hardy Geraniums – Rozanne

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This 'Rozanne' geranium was voted Plant of the Centenary at the 100th Chelsea Flower show and won the RHS Award of Garden Merit. With multiple badges to its name, this is a must-have in our books!Annual or perennial: Hardy perennialFlowering months: June - October

13. Hostas - Hosta ‘Francee’

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Hosta 'Francee' produces heart-shaped, olive-green leaves with neat white margins and spikes of lavender-blue flowers in the summer months. Best positioned in partial or full shade, this plant is another winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit.Annual or perennial: PerennialFlowering months: July - August

14. Pansies – Pansy Frizzle Sizzle

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With a vibrant mix of bold colours and frilled petals, these pansies are great in containers and will create a rather striking display for your autumn garden. They thrive in cool conditions and are relatively fuss-free.Annual or perennial: Hardy biennial/ perennialFlowering months: November - May

Can you use any outdoor pot for plants?

Outdoor pots have been designed to withstand the elements, so most any outdoor pot will do! However, there are two things to consider when picking the right one for your plant.

Size: It goes without saying that your pot will need to be big enough to house your new plant. However, you should make sure to choose one that's slightly larger to give your plant plenty of room to spread out its roots, get enough nutrients from the soil, and help the plant grow and reach its full potential. Choose a pot that's a couple of inches bigger in diameter than your plant.

Drainage: You'll want your plant pot to have good drainage to reduce the chance of the roots rotting, your plant from being overwatered by your hand or the elements, and to help your plant grow to be its best. Look for plant pots with holes at the base that'll provide drainage to help prevent the soil getting too wet. You might also want to consider pots made from natural materials, such as stone and terracotta, that are water-permeable.

Related: Best self-watering planters

How to pot your outdoor plants?

If you're looking for guidance on how to pot your new outdoor plants, Patch Plants and Alice Vincent, author of How to Grow Stuff, share their helpful guide on how to do it just right:

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FAQs

The best plants for your outdoor pots and containers? ›

Best plants for pots all year-round
  • Skimmia japonica.
  • Hosta.
  • Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
  • Buddleia 'Buzz'
  • Hebe.
  • Agapanthus.
  • Cornus.
  • Heuchera.
Jan 25, 2022

What can I plant in my outdoor planter? ›

Almost any vegetable, flower, herb, shrub, or small tree can grow successfully in a container. Dwarf and compact cultivars are best, especially for smaller pots. Select plants to suit the climate and the amount of sun or shade the container will receive.

How do I pick a plant for outdoor pots? ›

Choose plants with a variety of different shaped leaves and flowers, some with larger leaves and others with finely textured ones. Choose a mix of thrillers, fillers and spillers to give some dimension to your container planting. Just be sure to follow guidelines 1 and 2 first when selecting plants.

What is the easiest outdoor plant to keep alive? ›

Hostas. Hostas can be one of the easiest perennials to grow—as long as deer and slugs don't frequent your garden. (Natural repellents are available if you love hostas and have these unwelcome visitors.) Varieties range from tolerating dappled sun to tolerating part sun, such as 'Liberty' hosta.

What's the easiest outdoor plant to take care of? ›

Marigolds. Cheerful marigolds are easy to grow in sunny spots, brightening your garden with shades of yellow, red and gold as they bloom all summer long. African or American type marigolds grow 3 to 5 feet tall, but you can find shorter and more compact varieties.

What is the easiest outdoor plant? ›

10 Easy Plants For Beginners to Grow Outdoors
  • Pansies. The history of the Pansy flower originates all the way back to the 4th Century B.C in Greece. ...
  • Sunflower. Sunflowers are known for producing oil and seeds, as well as being a colourful addition to your garden. ...
  • Marigolds. ...
  • Peonies. ...
  • Lavender. ...
  • Snapdragon. ...
  • Fuchsias. ...
  • Cosmos.
Oct 23, 2019

What plant survives all seasons? ›

Perennial Flowers That Grow in Any Climate
  • 01 of 08. Bee Balm. Michael Westhoff/E+/Getty Images. ...
  • 02 of 08. Penstemon. National Garden Bureau. ...
  • 03 of 08. Threadleaf Coreopsis. John Burke/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images. ...
  • 04 of 08. Geranium. ...
  • 05 of 08. Sedum. ...
  • 06 of 08. Yarrow. ...
  • 07 of 08. Coneflower. ...
  • 08 of 08. Daylily.
Apr 21, 2021

What is the best color for outdoor pots? ›

Planters and gardens that are viewed from a distance are best planted with warm colors, such as red, orange, apricot and, tangerine. Warm colors also make a space feel smaller. The cooler colors are better for up close viewing and include blue, purple, fuchsia, magenta, and pink.

Can you leave an outdoor plant in the container it came in? ›

Plants can remain for a period of 2 to 4 months in the container it came in. However, plants of larger species will have to be repotted much faster than small species plants. Repotting should be done when the plant starts to show signs of being rootbound to prevent plant stress and root disease.

What is the most low maintenance flower? ›

Top 10 Low Maintenance Perennials
  1. Shasta Daisy. Shasta Daisies are easy to grow. ...
  2. Coneflower. Coneflower is a mid-summer bloomer that's a great cut flower. ...
  3. Hardy Hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus loves full sun and attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies. ...
  4. Perennial Geranium. ...
  5. Hosta. ...
  6. Ferns. ...
  7. Catmint. ...
  8. Coreopsis.

What are the easiest plants to grow in pots? ›

Easy Plants You Can Grow in Containers
  • Vegetable: Leaf Lettuce.
  • Tropical: Mandevilla.
  • Tree: Japanese Maple.
  • Evergreen: Dwarf Alberta Spruce.
  • Sun Annual: Marigold.
  • Shade Annual: Coleus.
  • Sun Perennial: Chrysanthemum.
  • Shade Perennial: Coral Bells.
May 8, 2020

When should you plant outdoor plants? ›

The best time to plant any plant is during the dormant season – in North America, this is usually late fall through early spring. While it's okay to plant during the rest of the year, it will require more maintenance from you in the form of watering, fertilizers, etc.

What plant comes back every year? ›

Perennials come back every year. You only plant them once.

What is the most durable plant? ›

10 Plants You Can't Kill: No Green Thumb Needed
  • Bamboo. ...
  • Bromeliads. ...
  • Kalanchoes. ...
  • Money Tree. ...
  • Orchids. ...
  • Peace Lily. ...
  • Pothos Plant. ...
  • Succulents. Wildly popular these days for their diverse beauty, and also for their drought-resistant qualities, succulents are a must-have for just about everyone.
Jul 12, 2015

What is the most resilient flower? ›

Cosmos – one of the most resilient flowers for a border

It always come up trumps, whatever the weather. As you dead head cosmos, they bush out, pumping out more flowers and delicate foliage as the summer goes on. Also now available in white, pale pink, yellow and orange.

What is the most cold tolerant plant? ›

Agave havardiana is an incredibly cold tolerant, evergreen perennial that looks right at home in the desert. Hardy to zone 5, these plants are attractive to hummingbirds as well as to humans.

What potted flowers bloom the longest? ›

Petunias (Petunia spp.) are prized for their nonstop blooming, which continues from spring until the first frost of autumn. Many are trailing varieties that look stunning cascading from a container. Petunias often are grown as annuals, but they are hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11, and thrive in full sun or part shade.

What plant comes back every year? ›

Perennials come back every year. You only plant them once.

Should I put anything in the bottom of my planter? ›

Skip the gravel inside the bottom of individual or pot liners – It is a myth that a layer of gravel (inside the bottom of an individual pot) beneath the soil improves container drainage. Instead of extra water draining immediately into the gravel, the water “perches” or gathers in the soil just above the gravel.

What do you put in the bottom of an outdoor planter for drainage? ›

If you're planting in large containers, you can use a layer of plastic bottles at the bottom to help fill them up. The bottles should be empty, but not crushed, and have the caps on them. You can use water bottles or half-gallon jugs.

What can you put in outdoor planters besides flowers? ›

7 Things to Put in Planters Besides Flowers
  1. Vegetables. Image Credit: Liudmila Chernetska/iStock/GettyImages. ...
  2. Herbs. Image Credit: AustinChan/iStock/GettyImages. ...
  3. House Plants. Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker. ...
  4. Decorative Stones or Moss. ...
  5. Ornamental Plants. ...
  6. Faux Plants. ...
  7. Succulents.

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