20 Best Patio Plants and Flowers That Will Thrive Outdoors

Patio plants

Design: Pure Salt Interiors; Photo: Vanessa Lentine

The great thing about a well-appointed patio is that it's like adding another room to your home. The other thing we love about patio season? Filling that outdoor space with a lush, colorful variety of warm-weather plants.

Here are 20 of our favorite herbs, flowers, veggies, and ornamental shrubs to plant in your patio garden this year—whether in containers, in hanging baskets, or in the ground. Don't forget that your sun-loving houseplants will benefit from living outdoors for the summer, too.

01 of 20

Coneflower

purple coneflower plants with pink petals and bulbous orange centers growing in a garden outdoors

Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Echinacea spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5-7.2

You may recognize this cheery-colored perennial from boxes of echinacea tea. Coneflower comes in several different varieties, including the widespread purple coneflower. It's great for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.

02 of 20

Mandevillas

bright pink mandevilla flowers with yellow centers against green leaves outside

Blanchi Costela/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Mandevilla spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.6-7.8

Add a tropical splash of color to your patio with this heat-loving perennial vine, which grows trumpet-shaped flowers in pink, red, or white. Bring these frost-sensitive plants indoors in the fall before temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Plant them in a container, and be sure to add stakes or a trellis to support their climbing growth habit.

03 of 20

Petunias

magenta, white, and purple petunia flowers with green leaves growing on patio

Adél Békefi/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Petunia spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

These annuals show up in gardens, landscapes, and hanging baskets everywhere, and for good reason. Their abundant, brightly-colored blooms are beautiful, and they're excellent for lining a path or planting in containers. Be sure to pinch off spent blooms to encourage new growth all summer long.

04 of 20

Lavender

French lavender plant with purple flowers and green stems and leaves growing in metal milk pail pot in garden

Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Lavandula spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 7.0

Just about any kitchen herbs make great patio plants, but lavender is one of the few that offers charming purple flowers throughout the growing season. This hardy herb can be planted in containers if you'd prefer to bring it indoors for the winter, but it can also live outside as a garden perennial. It smells amazing, too—harvest buds for use in aromatherapy or cooking projects.

05 of 20

Succulents

small green and red succulent plants in ceramic planters

DuKai photographer/Getty Images

 

  • Botanical Name: Echeveria, Crassula, Sempervivum, Haworthia, and more
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to dappled sun
  • Soil Type: Gritty, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

In hot, dry climates, succulents are perennial, but even if you live in colder regions, you can enjoy succulents in your outdoor garden as annuals—or bring your succulent houseplants outdoors for the summer.

Be sure to gradually acclimate the plants to brighter outdoor light before giving them direct sun. Start with a few hours of morning light or dappled light each day, then gradually increase the duration and light level until they're soaking up the full sun.

06 of 20

Snapdragons

pink, purple, magenta, and yellow snapdragon flowers with green leaves growing in sunny garden

Patiwat Sariya/EyeEm/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Antirrhinum majus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.2-7.0

Add some texture to your patio flowers with gorgeous snapdragons, which come in a wide array of colors and offer tall spires of uniquely shaped blooms. They're also great for attracting large pollinators like bumblebees, which burrow between their petals to get at the nectar inside.

07 of 20

Lantana

yellow, orange, and red lantana flowers growing in garden with pointy dark green leaves

Faustino Carmona Guerrero/EyeEm/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Lantana camara
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

This flowering perennial shrub will bring all the butterflies to your yard. Meanwhile, you can enjoy them for their power to attract pollinators as well as their multicolored clusters of flowers, which come in a range of contrasting shades like orange, red, yellow, pink, and blue.

Note that lantana can be invasive in warm climates, so check with your local extension office before planting if you live in one of these regions.

08 of 20

Cherry Tomatoes

closeup of red, orange, and green cherry tomatoes growing on vine with green stems and leaves in the sun

CaronB/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.2-6.5

What could be better than having handfuls of sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes growing just outside your door? These tiny tomatoes are incredibly easy to cultivate, whether in the ground or in containers. Be sure to give them support with tomato cages or stakes and twine.

09 of 20

Basil

closeup of green basil leaves in garden

Dimitris Meletis/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

You'll need some basil to go with those tomatoes, make batches of pesto to freeze for winter, and add to your favorite summery dishes. This heat-loving herb can be grown in-ground or in containers, and you can even bring it indoors for the winter to create your own kitchen herb garden. Just be sure to de-bug the plant first.

10 of 20

Annual Geraniums

pink, magenta, red, and white geranium flowers with green stems and leaves growing in garden

Nenov/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Pelargonium spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-6.5

The flowers we think of as geraniums aren't actually related to true geraniums, also called hardy geraniums, but they're a classic in outdoor gardens and containers alike. Be sure to deadhead spent flower stalks after they fade to encourage re-blooming, which can last until fall frost.

11 of 20

Anise Hyssop

long purple anise hyssop flowers with green leaves in garden, a black and orange monarch butterfly is on one of the flowers

Willowpix/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Agastache foeniculum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

With tall purple blooms and lush foliage, anise hyssop serves many purposes in the garden. It looks beautiful, is edible, has purported medicinal properties, and attracts pollinating insects. The fresh flowers can be used in salads, added to dishes as a garnish, or dried and made into tea. The fresh or dried leaves can add a natural sweetness to recipes, too.

12 of 20

Bee Balm

magenta bee balm or monarda flowers growing on long stems against green leaves in garden

Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Monarda didyma
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-6.7

Known for its blooms with bright sprays of colorful petals, this herbaceous perennial gets its common name because it's so attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies as well as hummingbirds. It's technically an herb—a relative of the mint family—with blooms in shades of pink, red, and purple.

13 of 20

Nasturtium

yellow nasturtium flowers with orange markings against round green nasturtium leaves

Firdausiah Mamat/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Tropaeolum spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5-7.5

Known for its vivid red, yellow, or orange flowers that pop against its round green leaves, nasturtiums do double duty as an edible herb and an ornamental flowering plant. The blooms can be eaten, and the leaves make excellent pesto or a zippy addition to salads. These plants make an attractive "spiller" in container planting.

14 of 20

Roses

bush of pink roses in full bloom with green leaves and trees in background

Masako Ishida/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Rosa spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-6.5

What's a patio garden without roses? These showy, fragrant blooms come in a dizzying array of colors and varieties, from climbing roses you can trellis up a wall to miniature roses with the cutest little flowers. They can be planted in the ground or in containers, and because they're heavy feeders, you'll want to fertilize them regularly.

15 of 20

Cleome

purple cleome plants with dark pink and light pink cleome plants in background

Songsak Paname/EyeEm/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cleome
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

Also known as spider flower, these attractive, firework-like blooms are a high-summer favorite for a patio-side garden bed or tall border plant. They come in colors from white to pink to purple and attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. While they're annuals, they'll readily reseed, so plant them where you'll be happy to have them reappear year after year.

16 of 20

Hibiscus

closeup of dark pink hibiscus flower covered in raindrops with leaves behind

Heike Richter, New Zealand/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5-6.8

Plant these lush, tropical flowering vines in containers to make the most of warm summer evenings on your patio. While many of the plants on this list need full sun, hibiscus does well in a shadier spot where other plants might not thrive.

Though each flower only blooms for one day, the plant is constantly producing. When the cold months come around, you can overwinter your hibiscus indoors to enjoy the next year.

17 of 20

Coleus

coleus plants with pink, red, and green leaves

Iryna_L/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Plectranthus scutellarioides
  • Sun Exposure: Full shade to part shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

Planting flowers isn't the only way to add splashes of color to your patio garden. Leafy coleus comes in a variety of vivid color combinations incorporating shades of purple, pink, red, yellow, and green. While the plants do bloom with tiny flowers, the leaves are the real star of the show here. Pinch back blossoms so the plant can focus on foliage.

18 of 20

Begonias

closeup of begonia flowers with round red petals and small yellow centers with green leaves

schnuddel/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Begonia semperflorens
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

Unlike angel wing or rex begonias, these plants, also known as wax begonias, are prized for their flowers rather than their leaves, although they can be grown indoors or out. They're great for lining paths, as bedding plants, in containers, and even as houseplants. Water them regularly to ensure that the soil stays moist, especially in hot weather.

19 of 20

Ornamental Peppers

closeup of long purple ornamental peppers growing with green leaves

LCBallard/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-6.8

This plant adds color to your patio garden with its fruit rather than its flowers. Ornamental peppers come in different shapes and a wide array of colors, including yellow, red, orange, purple, and black—sometimes on the same plant. Ornamental peppers love hot summer weather, so make sure you don't plant them outdoors too early. They're great in the ground or in containers.

20 of 20

Creeping Jenny

closeup of light green creeping jenny vines with small round leaves

EAGiven/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Lysimachia nummularia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 4.0-7.2

Looking for an attractive, low-maintenance ground cover, hanging plant, or container "spiller?" Creeping Jenny is a great candidate for all three. This versatile, hardy perennial is great for adding a contrasting shade of lime green to your planting plan. In the summertime, it blooms with small, yellow flowers, though it's mostly prized for its trailing vines and coin-shaped leaves.

Article Sources
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  1. Strilbytska OM, Zayachkivska A, Koliada A, et al. Anise Hyssop Agastache Foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in DrosophilaFront Physiol. 2020;11:596729. doi:10.3389/fphys.2020.596729

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