Container plants come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. It can be overwhelming to figure out which are the best plants for your containers. So I put together a list of my favorite outdoor plants for pots to help you get started.
Shopping for container garden plants is fun, and it’s exciting to find new combos to try every summer. Everyone strives to grow gorgeous outdoor planters, which makes container gardening extremely popular.
But if you’ve ever gone to a garden center in the spring to choose plants for pots, you know it can quickly become overwhelming!
Well fret no more! This list of summer container plants has something for everyone. You might even find some exciting new container gardening plants that you can grow this year.
What Plants Grow Well In Pots?
What are the best plants to grow in containers? This is a very common question that many new gardeners ask. There are tons of different types of plants that grow well in pots, and it can be hard to figure out what’s best.
But it will make it easier to find the best plants to put in pots if you narrow it down a bit. So start by answering these questions first…
- How much sunlight will your plants get?
- What colors do you like?
- How much water will your plants receive?
- What sizes are your pots?
- What type of planter will you be using?
- Do you want flowers, foliage, or both?
Once you have some ideas in mind, it will make it much easier to choose plants for a container garden. Get more container flower gardening design tips & ideas here.
21 Best Container Plants For Pots
As I mentioned above, there are tons of different types of container gardening plants to choose from. In fact there are so many that I could never cover them all in one list. So below I will give you tons of ideas for container plants to get you started…
1. Coleus – Coleus are colorful pot plants that can grow in a range of sunlight conditions. They’re the perfect plants for containers because they grow well in any sized planter. Coleus growing as a container plant will need regular water and well-draining soil.
2. Succulents – Succulents are great container plants that grow in small pots, or they can be combined into larger arrangements. They are easy-care outdoor potted plants for full sun, but some types will tolerate part-shade. Just be sure their soil drains very quickly, and let it dry completely between waterings.
3. Begonia – There’s a wide range of begonia plants on the market these days. Some have gorgeous flowers in a variety of colors. Other types don’t bloom, but are grown for their fantastic foliage instead. All types of begonias make excellent container garden plants. They need slightly moist, well-drained soil, and grow best in part-sun.
4. Elephant ear (EE) – With their giant leaves, elephant ears (aka: Colocasia) are wonderful foliage plants for containers. They come in many sizes and colors, and can add lots of drama to your summer planters. EEs love water, but need fast draining soil. They usually grow best in part shade, but some can tolerate full sun.
5. Marigolds – Marigolds are easy container plants for full sun and heat. They come in range of colors, from yellow or orange, to dark red. Make sure to give them plenty of water so they won’t droop, but let the soil dry before you water them again.
6. Creeping Jenny – Creeping Jenny is a bright trailing plant that is perfect to tuck into any outdoor container garden. It grows really quickly, so you don’t need to be shy about trimming it back when needed. They are one of the best plants for container gardens, but they can become invasive in the ground.
7. Nasturtium – A wonderful trailing plant that will spill over the tops of your containers, nasturtium have gorgeous flowers and fun foliage. They are full sun potted plants, but will tolerate the shade. You just won’t get as many blooms.
8. Impatiens – Impatiens are common potted plants that make the perfect addition to any size container. They come in a range of colors, both flowers and foliage. Unlike most flowering plants, impatiens actually prefer semi-shade over a sunny spot (though there are some new cultivars that grow in full sun!).
9. Canna lily – Cannas aren’t common container-grown plants, but they do very well in pots. This tropical plant comes in a variety of both flower and leaf colors, and makes a lovely focus plant. Canna lilies are the perfect plant for large pots in sun. As long as you give them plenty of water, they require little to no attention.
10. Dracaena – Dracaenas are good plants for outdoor pots because of the tall, spiky foliage. You can find them in a few different colors, and they’re nice for adding height to containers. Check the type you plan to grow, because some prefer shade while others grow better in sunny areas.
11. Fountain grass – Fountain grass is an ornamental plant that grows amazingly well in containers. It’s one of the best plants for large planters in partial shade to full sun. The long, brush-like flowers sway in the breeze, adding both height and interest to your container garden.
12. Hibiscus – This tropical shrub has big, beautiful flowers that come in a range of colors. Hibiscus are large container plants that will need frequent watering so the soil doesn’t dry out. Place these lovely potted plants in full sun, and they’ll happily bloom all year round.
13. Oxalis – Oxalis is a cute little plant that has unique, colorful foliage, and tiny flowers. Combine it in any mixed planter to add pops of color, and break up all the green. They’re the perfect plants for container gardening, and will keep their compact shape.
14. Banana plant – Bananas add a tropical feel and tons of height, which makes them one of the best plants for patio containers. These large outdoor potted plants grow quickly with little care. Since they’re a tropical plant, they love the sun. They also need well-drained soil and regular watering.
15. Petunia – Petunias are super easy outdoor potted plants that grow well either alone or combined in arrangements. They’re great for hanging baskets and window boxes too. They are good container plants for sun, and like plenty of water.
16. Purple queen – This gorgeous purple plant will cascade over the tops of your containers, and add superb color to any grouping. If you prefer a bushier plant, just pinch off the ends. They’re also excellent hanging basket container plants for sun.
17. Spider plant – Though spider plants are most commonly grown as houseplants, they make excellent container plants for shade. The spiky foliage can be bright green or variegated, which makes a lovely contrast against other plants.
18. Sweet potato vine – Sweet potato vines are incredibly easy plants to grow in pots. They grow very fast, and the vines will spill over the sides of your container. This versatile container gardening plant grows well in any size pot, and is good for planter boxes and hanging baskets too.
19. Purslane – Purslane are full sun container plants that are super easy to grow, as long as you don’t overwater them. The dense succulent foliage will spill over the top of your planter. It has bright flowers that open up during sunlight and close at night.
20. Vinca vine – Vinca vines are common potted garden plants that can be invasive in the ground. This lovely trailing vine has variegated foliage and tiny flowers. They’re excellent container plants for partial sun, and they need well-drained soil.
21. Tradescantia – Tradescantia are popular plants for a container garden, and there are many varieties to choose from. They’re fairly low maintenance plants that thrive in the humidity. Most varieties grow best in part to full shade. But their colorful foliage won’t be as vibrant in low light areas.
Choosing container garden plants can be tons of fun. Just remember to narrow down your options before you go shopping. That way it will be much easier to find the best plants for containers. Don’t forget to write down your favorites from this list to take with you to the garden center.
Up next, read my list of the best container vegetables for pots & planters.
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Share your top choices for the best container plants in the comments section below.