11 Plants Practically Made for Your Patio

Kathryn Pomroy
Written by Kathryn Pomroy
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated March 21, 2022
Woman relaxing on balcony with plants
Photo: Johner Images / Getty Images

Plant some (or all!) of these patio-perfect plants this year

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Add color, texture, and interest to your patio by adding a variety of plants to your outdoor space. Depending on your gardening goals, these picks can make your patio a haven for birds and butterflies, a tropical getaway, or an afternoon retreat. Read on to find a plant (or two) that will make your patio unique.

Best Patio Plants for Shade

Many patio plants thrive in part or full shade. If your little getaway doesn’t receive much sun, give these patio plants a try.

Fairy Crassula

Fairy crassula (Crassula multicava) is a succulent that just so happens to prefer shade. While commonly used as a groundcover, fairy crassula will thrive in containers on your patio.

  • Tolerate poor soil and deep shade

  • Dainty white flowers contrast deep-green leaves

  • Pest-resistant

  • Must be pruned to encourage fullness

  • Forgiving when you forget to water


Hostas (also referred to as plantain lilies) come in various shades, patterns, and sizes. Hosta is one of the most forgiving plants—it’s virtually foolproof and loves life on the shady side. However, it doesn’t like dry conditions, so water regularly, especially if they’re container-bound. Also, deer favor hostas, so just keep that in mind if you have deer visiting.

  • The spiky blooms attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds

  • Available in seemingly endless colors, shapes, and patterns

  • Make a beautiful patio border or can even grow in large, well-drained pots


Coleus’ bright foliage adds a burst of color—think ruby red, bright orange, magenta, yellow, and pink—to your outdoor patio space. The leaves also vary in shape, color, and size. 

  • Pinch tips of the flower spikes to encourage growth

  • Prefer well-drained soil with regular watering

  • Can grow from 6 to 36 inches tall and wide (consult the plant tag of your specific variety)

  • Do very well in part or full shade

  • Make excellent companions to other plants or as a grouping

“These annuals also make a nice addition to the shade perennial garden, adding nice pops of color in the summer months,” says Tara Dudley, owner of Plant Life Designs.

woman practicing yoga with her eyes closed on her patio
Photo: Goodboy Picture Company / E+ / Getty Images

Best Patio Plants for Full Sun

If your outdoor space bakes in the midday heat, opt for these tough-as-nails patio plants. Many can be planted as seeds to grow into beautiful full-size plants as they mature. 

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental peppers make fun patio conversation pieces. The brilliant fruits of the peppers bloom all summer long and can withstand sweltering temperatures. And if rabbits and deer like to use your patio as a buffet, these will cause them to look elsewhere.

  • Do very well in containers placed in full sun

  • Drought-tolerant

  • Can change color as they mature

  • Come in a variety of colors and heats, from mild to hot

Annual Geraniums

Geraniums are a classic full-sun container staple. Simply water and dead-head spent blooms regularly and feed with a general-purpose plant food monthly for summer-long color.

  • Long growing season

  • Easy to grow

  • Flowers are about 4 to 5 inches wide

  • Flowers can be shades of white, deep red, pink, variegated, and everything in between

Canna Lily

If you want a little privacy—along with an undeniably tropical vibe—cannas can grow up to several feet tall, depending on the variety. They require frequent watering and a balanced fertilizer once a week to keep them beautiful all summer long.

  • Showy flowers come in cream, red, pink, orange, and yellow

  • Flowers attract hummingbirds

  • Large plants can grow up to 8 feet tall

  • Prefers full sun

  • Must be dug out and stored for the winter or treated as an annual


Heat-loving lantana will provide a fireworks show of color all summer long. Well-suited to containers and tolerant of a bit of drought, they’re a reliable pick for the warmest of patios.

  • Come in a variety of colors

  • Grows quickly

  • Remove spent blooms to encourage new growth


Often called summer snapdragon, Angelonia blooms ‘til fall. Its spiky flowers range in color from white and pink to shades of purple. The dwarf version is best for patio planting.

  • Prefers full sun

  • Needs moist, well-drained soil

  • Dwarf version can get up to about 2 feet high

  • A gorgeous addition to mixed containers

  • Doesn't require deadheading and makes a lovely cut flower

Best Herbs for Patios

If you want fresh herbs for your favorite drinks or dishes, pot up a few of these flavorful herbs.


Plant versatile basil for Caprese salads, pizza topping, and infused water. Bonus: Its flowers are pollinator magnets.

  • Plant after the threat of frost has passed

  • Water often

  • Keep in full sun

  • Pinch or cut leaves regularly to encourage new growth

Pineapple Sage

Just like its name suggests, pineapple sage smells—you guessed it—like pineapples. Its pink tubular flowers also attract hummingbirds. Add to your favorite salad or salsa recipe for an unexpected flavor twist.

  • Can grow up to 3–4 feet tall and nearly as wide by the time it blooms

  • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies

  • Tolerates drought

  • Beautiful deep pink or dark red blooms


Whether it’s for a julep, mojito, or even to flavor ice cream, mint is a classic garden herb you shouldn’t garden without. Choose from a variety of flavors like peppermint, spearmint, or even chocolate mint.

  • Can become invasive and spread via rhizomes, so keep confined to containers

  • Pick often to prevent overgrowing

  • Perennial (will come back again next year)

These patio plants are easy to care for, do well in shade or sun, and you can even use some in your favorite recipes. You can plant them at the edges of your patio or in containers, and while you can order some online, you’ll also find most varieties at your local gardening store. Blur the line between your home and garden by creating a lush patio filled with beautiful plants.

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