Low-maintenance outdoor potted plants that transform your space

The outdoor potted plants make the terraces, porches, slopes, decks and even the fire escape cool and soft. The bare outdoor areas can be instantly transformed with some tall vegetation in huge tubs, climbing vines, hanging flowers, and a few smaller plants in particularly cool pots for interest and whimsy. The possibilities are endless!

The plants on the list require little maintenance and lend individuality and curiosity to your outdoor spaces. In addition, they are quite tough, resistant to certain temperature fluctuations and windy conditions.


Some of the plants on the list are toxic to pets. For more information on the security of each plant, see the ASPCA searchable database.

October Daphne Sedum (Sedum sieboldii)

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These extremely hardy succulents are ideal for filling sunny spaces under other, taller plants, keeping weeds away and forming a nice green carpet in a larger pot.

There are about 600 different leaf-shaped sedums, so there are plenty of options available to you. They need full sunlight or close to it (otherwise they will be legged), but they can withstand frosty temperatures, making them ideal for outdoor planting.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 3-10.
  • Solar radiation: Totally half a day.
  • Soil requirements: Any soil.


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Roses are great container plants and also climb beautifully when they are formed that way. While you may think roses are fuzzy and difficult to grow, newer varieties and hybrid varieties mean that this is much less true than before.

Be sure to look for a rose labeled “easy care.” As long as you give it plenty of sunshine and regular watering, you’ll be amazed at how little care more modern roses require.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 5-9, but it depends on the type of rose.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to partial shade.
  • Soil requirements: Good drainage, slightly acidic.

Clematis viticella

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The Clematis is a beautiful way to climb into a large pot, though you’ll need a grid to hold on to. This plant also offers a great opportunity to grow high outdoors quickly and without growing (or buying) large trees.

There are many different colors and varieties of clematis – and all of them are easy to grow and produce plenty of flowers – but purple is a classic choice.

Do not confuse this plant with the sweet autumn clematis (C. terniflora), which is a highly invasive, harmful weed (it has tiny white flowers).

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: 4-9.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to partial shade.
  • Soil requirements: Good drainage.

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

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Rosemary, once solidified, is so hard you hardly have to think about it anymore (except to cut it back when it grows out of the pot you put it in). It withstands dry conditions well and overwinters as a champion, retaining its dark green color even over the years.

Rosemary loves a lot of sunshine and will be leggy and rare in more shady places.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growth Zone: Zones 7-10 (but some cold hard varieties are also available).
  • Solar radiation: Full sunshine.
  • Soil requirements: Lightweight, well drained.

Cough (cough)

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With its pretty, huge leaves and fairly hardy structure, the hosts are ideal container plants. If you keep them in pots, deer can eat them too – because deer love their hosts!

These are shade-loving plants, so hosts thrive best on a shady patio or under a potted tree whose wide branches protect them from the sun.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 3-9.
  • Solar radiation: From partial shade to full shade
  • Soil requirements: Rich flower soil.

Winter jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)

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This hard little plant doesn’t look like it most of the year. Its beautiful green leaves are small and bright, harmless and easy to overlook. But in late winter or early spring, depending on your climate, it blooms with the most decadent scent of white jasmine flowers, which are extremely special as nothing else blooms when it blooms.

They are ideal for tiles on the terrace (placed next to the door and enjoy the scent as it comes and goes), they overwinter in zones 8a-11a. There is also a yellow-flowered winter jasmine that has no odor.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 6-10.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to bright shade.
  • Soil: Rich flower soil.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

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Great porch plant, this is another option for more shady outdoor spaces. Although often hung under the porch eaves, Boston ferns also grow nicely in a planter.

With minimal sunlight (some indirect light is great), these ferns need moisture, so keep the soil moist and provide regular moisture to the leaves. Other than that, it is an attractive, easy-care plant.

In frosty climates, this fern should be introduced because it does not survive frosty or near-freezing temperatures.

Native to Florida, if planted elsewhere, it can squeeze other plants, so keep them in containers or pots.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 9-11.
  • Solar radiation: Bright and indirect; the sun cannot shine directly on the leaves for long periods of time.
  • Soil: Requires a rich, clayey mixture (no mixture of sand or gravel).

Row of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

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Another option for the bottom of a planter or hanging basket: this variety succulents grow quickly and easily as long as it gets plenty of sunlight and is relatively sheltered and away from larger winds, making it ideal for a corner of your patio or deck.

The row of pearls is so unusual and such a nice compliment to the broader leafed plants that it is worth listing here.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 9-11.
  • Solar radiation: Strong, direct light.
  • Soil: Sandy, dry soil with good drainage.

Japanese maple (Acer japonicum)

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Yes, technically it is a tree, but it grows slowly enough to be a popular container plant, often seen on patios and patios in large pots.

Japanese maple is an ideal larger plant for larger pots and holds up well as a plant. In most climates, it overwinters outdoors, including in frosty areas, but loses its leaves in winter, so keep this in mind when using your patio during the winter months.

Be sure to choose Acer japonicum, as Japanese maple Acer palmatum is considered invasive in some eastern U.S. states.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 5-7.
  • Solar radiation: Full sunshine.
  • Soil: Rich, moist potting soil.

Azalea (Rhododendron)

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Many azaleas are very cold-tolerant and ideal low-maintenance container plants that overwinter in most places without special care.

They bloom wonderfully in the spring and are available in a variety of colors, leaving beautiful leaves behind for the rest of the season. Choose native azaleas for the best results in your climate.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: zones 6-9; some varieties are resistant to zone 4.
  • Solar radiation: Bright light in direct sunlight.
  • Soil: Well drained soil.

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

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Lavender is hardy, grows slowly, and when formed, tolerates dry conditions well. It requires full sunshine, but overwinteres well in very cold weather (because of the cold tolerance, be sure to buy English lavender, because other varieties of lavender can’t stand the cold either).

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 5-8.
  • Solar radiation: In or near full sun.
  • Soil: Regular flower soil.

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

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You often see hydrangeas in front of the porches or on the edge of the garden, but it takes time for them to grow, so it’s worth raising them in a nice big pot before putting them in the ground. They love alkaline soil (which is easier to control in pots, that’s another benefit), so keep that in mind.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 3-7.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to partial shade.
  • Soil: Moist and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.

Coleus (Plectranthus scutellariodes)

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Coleus is another shade-loving plant with beautiful leaves like hosts and pairs well with them in containers.

It grows easily throughout the summer and fall as long as it is well watered. It dies in most places in the colder weather, except in the warmest climates.

Note that the coleus is considered invasive in Hawaii.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 10-11.
  • Solar radiation: From part to full shadow.
  • Soil: Well drained.

Geranium (Pelargonium)

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Geraniums need full sunshine, otherwise it will be stalked and not bloom much, but other than that, it is very easy to grow and both its leaves and flowers are showy and attractive.

Drought tolerant, geranium blooms throughout the summer and fall. The flowers of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies are also found to be very attractive.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 10-11.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to partial shade.
  • Soil: Good drainage.

Mock Orange (Philadelphus)

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False oranges retain their leaves all year round and can grow into 12 x 12 inch bushes, but can also be pruned and kept in a large planter or used to make a sieve in a container.

Its tiny flowers smell of orange blossom, which is part of the plant’s appeal, but also incredibly hardy, tolerating dry conditions and excessive pruning well.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: 4-8.
  • Solar radiation: From full sunlight to partial shade.
  • Soil: Soil with good drainage.

Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum)

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Blueberry bushes are native to the United States and produce delicious fruit, but they can also be great foliage bushes, reddish in the fall and bell-shaped in the spring. They bring pollen into the garden and feel good in the soil, as a hedge or in a pot.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Cultivation Zones: Zones 3-9.
  • Solar radiation: Full sunshine.
  • Soil: Acidic soil with good drainage.

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