7 best plants for your patio

Patio in the sunshine with chairs and plants arranged on it
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When it comes to decorating your patio with plants, the decisions can be overwhelming. Whether it’s flowers, fruits, or fragrances that you’re hoping to invite into your outside space, our guide will provide a little something for everyone and hopefully clear the fogginess of the multitude of decisions. 

While having outdoor space like a patio provides a lovely area to sit and enjoy the fresh air next to your home, it can be hard to decide what plants to pick. Patios are often uncovered meaning that they will suffer the wrath of all kinds of weather, so choosing plants that can survive in different temperatures is key.

We’ve selected seven of the best plants for your patio ranging from vibrant flowers to aromatic herbs. So, depending on the space you have and where you live, there should be plants of all shapes and sizes to fit into your patio with ease. Plus, we have more guides for the 7 best porch plants and 7 best plants to grow on a balcony if you’re planning on going all out in your outside spaces.

Top tip before you begin your search: It’s very important when choosing your patio plants that you first establish your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Each zone is determined by its average annual minimum winter temperature. So, depending on where you are, there’s certain plants that will thrive, and certain ones that won’t survive. You can search your zip code quickly to see which zone you fall into and pick accordingly.

1. Begonias

Begonias

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Begonias are a wonderfully bright addition to your patio. While they’re best kept in some shade, begonias thrive on the edges of your patio or up in hanging baskets against the exterior walls of your home. They appreciate well-drained soil, so ensure they’re potted with a drainage hole and aren’t overwatered.

Begonias aren’t great at surviving in the frosty temperatures of winter, but good news is that they work great at becoming houseplants over the cold months of the year before following you back outdoors when you return to using your patio space. They come in a range of vibrant colors including orange, pink, red, yellow, and white that’ll be sure to brighten up your home.

2. Roses

Roses for the garden

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A classic addition to your patio area are planters filled with roses. Not only will they provide some delicate color to your outside space, but they’re also renowned for their fragrant scent. When it comes to roses, there’s lots of species out there to choose from, making them an ideal plant for adding variety.

Roses come with different scents, so be sure to pick one that appeals the most to you. They can also come in a range of thorniness, with some even virtually thorn-free for anyone worried about pets and little ones moving too close. They’re a fairly hardy choice too, surviving the colder temperatures as well as the warm. To give your roses the best chance though, be sure to look into how best to prune roses

3. Caladium 

Caladium flowers

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Caladium, also commonly known as angel wings, have earned that name for good reason. Their vibrant, colorful, large leaves bring life to any outside space and prove that you don’t need flowers to add beauty to your patio. One caveat for caladiums though is that they love the sun. Be sure to check your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone to ensure you’ll be able to give them what they need.

If you’re feeling bold, you can plant caladiums from bulbs in moist potting soil and warm temperatures. Or, alternatively, you can buy them fully grown and add them straight into your patio. 

4. Lavender

Lavender plant

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Lavender, featured in both our 7 best porch plants and 7 best plants to grow on a balcony guides, is a wonderfully low maintenance plant for your patio. Grown from cuttings or seeds, it doesn’t require much from you apart from well-draining soil, plenty of sun, and small amounts of water. 

If you provide lavender with a bit of care and attention, you’ll reap the rewards of its delicate lilac color and fragrant aroma. While lavender is great in sunny climes with a drought tolerance, it struggles in the cold winter months and would be better placed indoors. Thankfully, the scent of lavender indoors is also proven to help you sleep at night

5. Succulents 

A succulent being watered with a watering can

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Next on our list and another crossover from our best porch plants guide are succulents. Succulents excel in all types of weather, using their thick fleshy leaves to store moisture and thrive in hardier conditions. They come in all different shapes and sizes making them a perfect fit when you’ve got pockets of space to fill on your patio. 

While many succulent variants are green in color, they can also provide reds, purples, and pinks to your outside space. They’re one of the most low maintenance choices in our guide, but you’ll still need to make sure to plant succulents in well-draining soil, in plenty of sunshine, and avoid overwatering at all costs.

6. Gerbera 

Gerbera plants

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Gerbera will bring a lot of color to your patio. The large daisies, native to South Africa, grow year-round in bold reds, yellows, pinks, purples, whites, and oranges. They grow best in well-drained light-colored pots so as not to absorb too much heat and benefit from potting soil, fertilizing, and dead-heading to ensure they continue to bloom throughout the seasons.

Much like the lavender and begonias on our list, gerberas are best brought indoors during the winter months but only require infrequent watering to remain in bloom within your home. If you’re looking to add a pop of intense color to your patio, gerberas are a great choice. 

7. Herbs

Herbs in a crate for decoration

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Finally, if you’re looking to include a plant with multiple purposes to your patio, herbs will bring scent as well as seasoning to be added to your home-cooked dishes. Featured in our best porch plants guide, herbs survive well outdoors and actually survive better in dry, nutrient-poor soil so consider them incredibly low maintenance. 

For sunnier USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, basil and rosemary are great picks. For cooler climes, you may have better luck with thyme, parsley, mint, and cilantro. You can either start them from seed at home or buy them ready to pot from the store. Either way, you’ll be able to step onto your patio and pick edible, fragrant herbs to take back to the kitchen with ease. 

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Grace Dean

Grace is a freelance journalist working across homes, lifestyle, gaming and entertainment. You'll find her writing for Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Space.com, and other sites. If she's not rearranging her furniture, decluttering her home, or relaxing in front of the latest streaming series, she'll be typing fervently about any of her much-loved hobbies and interests. To aid her writing, she loves to head down internet rabbit holes for an unprecedented amount of time.