Potted plants are a useful decorating tool, providing greenery on porches, patios and poolsides. Using pots is an easy way to gain control over a plant and limit its growth, keeping it from becoming unruly or unmanageable in the garden. There are many plants that will thrive if cultivated in pots outside.
Japanese Silver Painted Fern
Boasting striking green variegated leaves, the Japanese silver painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum "Pictum"') is a foliage plant that can be grown outdoors in a pot to produce an excess of greenery and movement. A native of Japan, the plant grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3B to 8B, where it will reach an average height of about 2 feet. The fern is excellent for a shady corner of a porch or a bare area under a tree, as the plant will grow in full or partial shade. Japanese silver painted fern does best in a well-draining, neutral or acidic soil that is kept moist to the touch at all times.
The garden strawberry (Fragaria X ananassa) is a commonly cultivated plant that is notable for its deliciously sweet red berries. A member of the rose family, the low-growing plant sports toothed green leaves and attractive white blooms. Strawberries are ideal for outdoor pots, and multiple plants are often planted in large clay pots. The plant has a tremendous range, with cultivars available that will grow in USDA zones 2 all the way to 11. The plants prefer a well-drained soil and full sunlight. Because of their shallow roots, strawberries need to be watered often, especially during the hot summer months. Strawberries are usually grown as annuals, partially because the plants are prone to soil disease and pests.
A member of the figwort family, the common snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) is a fast-growing, colorful plant native to North Africa and parts of the Mediterranean. The erect plant sports lush green leaves and floppy columns of soft flowers, which are often shades of pink or yellow. The flower grows well in outdoor containers, and can be clipped and taken indoors for a fresh and vibrant flower bouquet. Dwarf and trailing varieties are particularly well suited for pots. Common snapdragons grow in USDA zones 4 to 11, preferably in full sun. The easy-to-grow plant will look its best if cultivated in a rich, well-draining soil that's watered frequently.