Whether you have a large or small porch, plants can make it cooler and more inviting. When choosing what to plant in front of the porch, first think about the temperature and humidity where you live. Next, consider the physical layout of your porch and how long you will be staying in your house. For renters, container gardens with annual flowers are ideal, but homeowners can plant perennials like vines and shrubs that will grow for years.
Plants in containers can be a perfect way to decorate a porch on a rental property because you can take them with you when you move. Dwarf trees in large pots make great backdrop plants, and perennial flowers like phlox, daisies, cosmos and roses can add color. You can even make a mix of flowers in a large container by planting taller flowers or ornamental grasses in the middle of the container, lower flowers around them and trailing flowers over the edge of the pot.
Trailing flowers usually do very well in hanging baskets on a porch because they hang over the side of the containers. Trailing plants for hanging baskets include trailing snapdragon, golden creeping jenny, sweet potato vines and bacopa. Other flowers that love hanging baskets include fuscia, begonias, petunias and impatiens. For added greenery without flowers, ferns and ivies also look lovely in containers. For a punch of color without worrying about blooms, try variegated ivies in hanging baskets on a porch.
If you have a railing around your porch and are planning to live in the house for a while, consider planting vines that will climb up the porch railing. You can choose ivies without flowers or one of the many vines that produce beautiful and/or fragrant flowers. Flowering vines include jasmine, passion flower, wisteria, climbing roses, honeysuckle and trumpet vine.
Always choose shrubs that won't grow tall enough to obscure your view if you plan to sit on the porch and enjoy your garden. Shrubs like bamboo palm can be good for warmer climates. Classic shrubs include bay laurel, rosemary and boxwood. Flowering shrubs like hydrangea, rhododendron or oleander can also bring color to a porch. Evergreen shrubs include juniper, holly and pachysandra.
Many of the different varieties of ornamental grasses have descriptive words in their names to indicate color or pattern. Fountain grass, Pampas grass, Maiden grasses and tufted hair grasses are all ornamental grasses that grow in large round sprays and produce fluffy tufted flowers. Ornamental grasses with bright colors include flame grass, blue festuca and striped sedge.