Information About Outdoor Plants

Information About Outdoor Plants image by DRW & Associates Inc.: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Information About Outdoor Plants image by DRW & Associates Inc.: U.S. Department of Agriculture


Outdoor gardens brighten our living space. They may also produce vegetables for the larder and flowers for the table. A vast range of plants can be grown outdoors by gardeners at any skill level with a little basic information.

Outdoor plants are native---or have adapted---to an area.


Originally, all plants were "outdoor plants." Beginning with ancient peoples, plants imported from other places became the first indoor plants. Outdoor plants are simply native or other plants that grow and reproduce with ease in a given geographical and climatological area.

Trees that drop their leaves every growing season are deciduous.


Plants that grow, reproduce and die within one season are called annuals; those that repeat growth each growing season from the same plant are perennials. Biennials have a growth cycle of two years.

Tropical plants grow outdoors in tropical zones and in containers in northern zones.


Plants may be hardy, tender or tropical, which refers to their toughness in a given area. Tender plants are easily killed by cold weather and tropical plants need warm air and high humidity to flourish.

North American growing or "hardiness" zones attempt to define plant adaptation areas.


Plants with similar hardiness and growth characteristics are native to or adapt easily to growth in geographic areas called growing zones, which are similar in landforms and climate. A plant that can survive without help in a growing zone is considered an outdoor plant.

Sharp needles protect next year's growth and succulent early pinecones on this evergreen.


Plants develop natural defenses as they adapt to environments. Some adapt by growing spines, thorns or tough skins. Others produce toxins that are found in their skin, fruit or sap.


  • Time-Life Gardener's Guide; 1988
  • National Plants Database
  • Outdoor Container Gardening

Who Can Help

  • University of Connecticut Database of Trees, Shrubs and Vines
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
  • Poisonous Plants
Keywords: outdoor plants, gardening, perennials, flowers, vegetables

About this Author

Laura Reynolds began writing professionally in 1974. She has worked as author and editor in nonfiction, professional journals and newspapers. Reynolds has also served in numerous appointed and elected local offices. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from Northern Illinois University.

Photo by: DRW & Associates Inc.: U.S. Department of Agriculture