Plants for a Patio Planter

Patio planters filled with colorful blooms or interesting foliage bring life to drab areas. Rustic, formal or contemporary planter-box designs allow for seamless blending with individual home styles. Be creative and choose quality containers that last. Large planters are a focal point, and railing or window planters add visual height to a patio. Be aware that patio planters often require frequent watering, especially during summer months.

Lady Palm

Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) is a small, delicate palm tree, reaching as much as 15 feet, but commonly seen 6 to 10 feet tall. It forms dense clusters of canelike trunks with palmate fronds of five to 10 segments up to 1 foot across. Lady palm is a useful accent plant in an urn or planter box. Grow in partial to deep shade in nutrient-rich organic soil. Lady palms are hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 11.


Petunias (Petunia x hybrida) are herbaceous perennials often grown as annuals throughout the United States and commonly used in planter boxes and hanging baskets. Petunia flowers are funnel-shaped, up to 5 inches across and available in various colors and combinations of white, yellow, red and blue. They may be solid, striped or have other markings. Grow petunias in full sun to light shade on nutrient-rich soils. Petunias are hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 11 and are good cool-weather plants in warm climates.

Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), also called sacred bamboo, is an evergreen to semideciduous shrub with an upright, clumping form reaching 8 feet in height (commonly 5 to 6 feet). Its pinnately compound (featherlike) leaves grow up to 2 feet long. Heavenly bamboo flowers bloom in moderately showy clusters called panicles that grow to 1 foot long. Red berries, which are toxic, form in clusters in late fall and winter. Grow in full sun to partial shade in nutrient-rich, organic soils.


Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea species) is an evergreen, clambering (sprawling) woody vine of various size--it covers large areas when it's not cut back with pruning. Bougainvillea leaves are 2 to 4 inches long with smooth margins or edges. Bougainvillea flowers are small and not distinctive, but surrounded by three large, brightly colored, petal-like bracts. The bracts, up to 2 inches long, vary from purple or white to shades of orange, yellow, red or pink. Grow bougainvillea in full sun for the best flowering and in sandy, well-drained soil. As bougainvillea is a vigorous, rampant grower, pruning is recommended, as well as use of a trellis or other support within the planter box. Bougainvillea is hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 12.

Keywords: patio planters, container gardening, patio landscaping

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."