A porch is a wonderful pocket of space right outside your front door. It’s the gateway to your home. A relaxing place to sit with friends, family, or just on your own to unwind from a busy day. When it comes to this space, you may be looking for ways to transform it into a relaxing oasis, a crop cultivator, or a colorful frame for your front door.
If you are, this guide will take you through 7 of the best porch plants to showcase your home. The best part? Our suggestions are low maintenance, meaning your porch will pretty much take care of itself, with a little love and care from you.
Whether you’re new to the gardening game and are searching for a simple place to start, or you’re looking for new inspiration to accompany an already well-decorated porch, there’s a little something for everyone. Just like our homes, outside space is incredibly varied. You may have a lot of room, you may have a little, but we’ve endeavored to choose plants that thrive in pots, no matter the size.
Why stop there? If you’re looking to bring the outside in, we also have the 7 best vegetables to grow indoors. Or perhaps you’re looking to decorate a different outside space, there’s our 7 best plants to grow on a balcony too. For now, let’s take a look at what plants will blossom and grow on your porch.
A porch planting top tip before we start: While we’ve been careful to select easy, low-maintenance plants for our list, if you’re choosing plants for your porch, you’ll want to take into account your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. These zones are separated by their average annual minimum winter temperature determining what plants are best suited for your location.
There’s a quick zip code search available to determine your zone and, in turn, figure out what’s best to plant where you are.
1. Japanese maple tree
Japanese maples, featured in both our best trees to grown in containers and best plants to grow on a balcony guides, are great for adding a vibrant red and unique appearance to your porch. When selecting your Japanese maple, you’ll want to opt for a small, dwarf variety such as the ‘Elizabeth’ or ‘Fireball’ popularly chosen for only growing to around five feet tall over a number of years.
A well-draining pot double the size of your Japanese maple root system is essential, as well as regular watering and a water-based fertilizer in the springtime. Although these trees are hardy, they’re still best placed in a sheltered spot on your porch to protect them from strong winds. The common red varieties cope better with a little sunshine, while green thrives better in spots of shade.
As well as adding a beautiful lilac color to your porch, lavender also has the advantageous feature of omitting a calming scent often used to aid sleep at night. To pot lavender on your porch, you can start your growth from cuttings or seed and be sure to position your lavender in full sun with a well-drained soil.
Lavender doesn’t require too much watering, making it drought-tolerant, but struggles in colder climes. So, you may want to think about bringing your lavender inside during those winter months. Or, at least, moving them to a more sheltered area of your porch to protect it from cold, damp weather. To keep the lavender compact and at its best, it’s advised to prune it annually in late summer. Otherwise, you run the risk of your lavender becoming too woody and ruining your carefully curated porch.
Most commonly grown in fiery colors such as bright yellow, orange, and red, marigolds are a low maintenance floral choice that will add lots of colorful bloom to your porch. Marigolds don’t require much from you, but you’ll want to make sure they’re positioned in full sun to thrive. They’re great at coping with a variety of weather too, making them a perfect choice for your outside space.
An added extra with marigolds is their ability to repel insects that might be causing nuisance to your other plants. With marigolds, deadheading is key. To deadhead, you’ll be cutting off any dead or wilting blooms to make way for fresh ones, ensuring that the marigolds can continue to bloom all summer long.
Succulents come in all shapes and sizes making them a perfect choice for filling up pockets of space on your porch. Their thick fleshy nature also makes them great at storing water to thrive in the sunshine and means they can survive hardier weather. For example, some succulents have frost tolerance meaning they can cope during the cold winter chill and making them an excellent all-year plant choice for your porch.
If the succulents you choose don’t favor freezing temperatures, you can always re-pot them inside on your windowsill until the sun starts shining again. Depending on what room you have for them on your porch, they’ll blend in nicely with your colorful blooms and taller plants.
5. Olive trees
A striking choice for your porch, featured in our best trees to grow in containers, are olive trees. Add a touch of Mediterranean charm to the front of your house with their silvery green leaves. They’re tough as nails, coping well in outside spaces as long as they don’t get too cold. You’ll want to ensure they are potted in well-draining soil, preferably in a clay or wood container, exposed to full sunlight for at least six hours a day, and not overwatered.
With all the right conditions, olive trees add a unique aesthetic to your porch and, when it gets frosty outside, can be brought inside to bring a hint of the Mediterranean to your home. If brought inside, olive trees are best placed in front of a sunny window so they can continue to thrive while sheltering indoors.
6. Chili peppers or tomatoes
If you’re looking to cultivate from your porch, there’s two great simple options, depending on the size of your porch and what vegetable you’d be more likely to harvest and eat. Chili peppers and tomatoes are both popular homegrown vegetables that will add a lot of vibrancy and uniqueness to your porch.
Be sure to select smaller pepper and tomato plants, known as patio or bush varieties, as they work best in containers. You’ll still want to pick a big pot for your tomatoes as they’ve got a large root system, keep them well drained, and use a potting mix as regular soil will not drain as fast. Both chili peppers and tomatoes need plenty of sunlight to grow and daily watering. If it’s particularly hot and windy, watering them twice a day is even better.
You can learn how to grow tomatoes from seeds and how to grow tomatoes in pots with our easy guides, or you can always pick them up as ready-grown plants to re-pot in an appropriate container for your porch.
7. Lemon/citrus trees
Finally, citrus trees are a perfect combination of bright colors, homegrown produce, and alluring scent to add to your porch area. As long as they’re given a sunny, sheltered spot, citrus trees can provide lemons, limes, oranges, and even kumquats when cared for correctly.
The best conditions for citrus trees are in full sunlight, warmer humid temperatures, well-draining soil, a weekly water during the summer months, and the use of some specialist fertilizer to really help them thrive. In the winter months, you’ll want to bring them indoors to protect them from the cold. It’s never a bad thing though as you can reap the rewards of their citrus scent and bright yellows or oranges.
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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.