Plants soften the look of a pool, add privacy and create the feeling of a soothing retreat. The environment around a pool, however, can be damaging to some plants. The water reflects the hot sun, and the chemicals or salt in the pool water can be damaging to less-hardy plants. It's important to choose plants that can tolerate sun, do not have roots that may damage the pool and will not drop debris into the water.
Crotons are tropical foliage plants. Their colourful leaves display beautifully all year long, and they do not produce messy flowers or fruit. In addition, crotons love full sunlight and can tolerate hot temperatures. Many varieties are frost-sensitive, however, so plant those crotons in containers and move them indoors when cold weather arrives.
Evergreen vines will stay green all year long and will add privacy to your pool area if you train them on a trellis. English ivy is very hardy and attractive. Jasmine and honeysuckle are both beautiful and fragrant, but they tend to attract bees, which may bother the people enjoying the pool. Trumpet vines are also beautiful and attract butterflies, but they do not survive in growing zones that have freezing temperatures.
While coniferous evergreens might seem like a good choice, in reality they drop needles, pine cones and sap all year long, according to Plant-Care.com. Instead, choose a holly tree or shrub. Or, if you live in a climate that supports palm tree growth, plant a palm tree. Palm trees add a fun, tropical feel to your pool area. In addition, many palms are quite cold-hardy, according to Clemson University. Cold-hardy palms include the Windmill palm, which will grow even in the Pacific Northwest. Sago palms make excellent shade and reach a manageable average height of 5 feet tall. If you are planting a tree in a container, choose a dwarf version.
If you want a splash of colour around your pool, try zinnias. These brightly-coloured flowers come in a wide range of sizes and colours, and all can withstand hot sun and poor soil. Zinnias grow easily from seed and do not drop their leaves or flowers. This means that you will have to remove spent blooms in order to encourage reblooming, but it also means you won't have a continual mess on your hands.