Plants for Patio Containers

Written by sandy rothra
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Plants for Patio Containers
Periwinkle is a low-growing perennial appropriate for containers in shady areas. (periwinkle image by Alison Bowden from

Patio containers have become increasingly important in landscape planning. In houses and apartments with small yards, or no yards at all, patio container plants provide fresh flowers, shade and privacy screening. Chose plants that are suitable for the patio location and the available sunlight. Some plants need full sun; others do well in the shade. All plants need some maintenance and regular watering.

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Rose Verbena

Plant rose verbena, also known as Verbena canadensis, in a hanging basket in full sun. The plant is covered with pink or red flowers all summer and forms dense clusters of blooms that spill over the edges of the baskets. Verbena is drought tolerant, although it requires occasional watering when planted in a container. Fertilise each month and cut the plant back when it stops flowering.


Heliotrope, or Heliotropum arborescens, produces deep-purple flowers with a vanilla-like fragrance that attracts hummingbirds. This annual flower needs full sun and well-drained soil. It grows about 18 inches tall. Heliotrope is so-named because it turns its flowers to face the sun, according to a Washington State University article. Heliotrope requires partial sun, regular water and weekly fertiliser. To prevent spindly plants, pinch new growth back on young plants.

Staghorn sumac

In a container on wheels, a small tree provides portable shade where needed. Considered invasive when planted in the ground, the staghorn sumac, also named Rhus typhina, grows well in containers. It requires full sun and is drought tolerant. This deciduous tree grows 15 to 20 feet tall, the perfect size for a patio. Staghorn sumac forms red-berry clusters that last all winter, attracting birds.


A compact, bushy plant, the "Venus" tomato adapts well to containers, where it produces orange-coloured, 1-inch fruit. Support tomato plants to keep them upright. Place patio containers, with tomatoes, near a trellis or support them with stakes or tomato cages. They need full sun and well-drained soil.

Yellow Honeysuckle Vine

Yellow honeysuckle, or Lonicera sempervirens f. sulphurea, adds golden-yellow, fragrant flowers to your patio, all summer and fall, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. Because the vine climbs to 12 feet, place the container near a trellis or wall to support it. In late autumn and early winter, the vine produces red berries that attract birds. This perennial honeysuckle needs full sun.


The periwinkle, also known as Vinca minor, has shiny, green leaves and produces blue flowers in the spring. It grows well in containers and needs very little care. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens suggest periwinkle as an ideal plant for containers located on shaded patios.

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