A generous selection of well-chosen plants makes a patio a welcoming space, that feels like an integral part of your garden.
When selecting your patio plants, there are various questions to consider. What type of plants do you want to grow? What is most important to you – flowers, foliage, or both? Do you want to grow edible crops? Do you need low-maintenance plants?
Scent is another important consideration. Richly perfumed flowers and aromatic foliage can be the crowning glory of an outdoor space, so it pays to prioritise scented plants.
If your patio gets a lot of direct sun and you need a shady place to sit, small trees can make an attractive alternative to garden parasols. And, if your space is limited, grow plants on table surfaces, too – potted succulents, cacti or herbs for fresh pickings all work very well.
We select some of of the best plants to grow on a patio, below.
Bedding plants and annuals
Bedding plants and annuals like Mexican sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos are a great example of the flowers you can grow in pots or hanging baskets for splashes of colour. Check out 10 of the best plants for containers, plus masses of annuals to grow on our Plant Finder.
Philadelphus, or mock oranges, have deliciously scented flowers similar to that of orange blossom. Grown in the soil surrounding a patio, it’ll help to provide natural shade, too. Other spring-flowering shrubs you could grow include weigela, physocarpus and deutzia.
For shady patios, hostas are ideal. Their lush foliage looks beautiful in pots and containers, or planted in the ground, where it’ll soften the hard edges of patio paving. Other suitable plants for softening edges include lavender, santolina, hakonechloa, pulmonarias and catmint.
Crops to grow in containers on the patio include kale, cherry tomatoes, potatoes and salad leaves. If your patio has borders, you could plant them in the ground, too. Take a look at the best fruits for containers, and this advice on how to get the best from veg grown in pots.
There are lots of ways to grow climbers, like this evergreen star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). Here it’s grown in a pot and trained against a wall, but it could just as easily be grown up a pergola over the patio. For more ideas, check out these climbing plants to grow for wildlife.
Succulents and cacti
In the summer months you can give houseplants like succulents and cacti a sunny holiday on the patio – raised up on a table they can’t fail to catch the eye. If you’re after hardy succulents to grow, try growing gorgeous succulent alpines in a pot.
Many patios are used for alfresco dining, so it makes sense to have fresh herbs at arm’s reach. If you’ve got a hot, sunny patio, go for Mediterranean herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary and chamomile. For shade, take a look at these shade-loving herbs to grow.
If you want to experiment more freely with colours and textures, growing annuals like sweet peas is a good way to go. Once they’ve died off in autumn and winter, you can start planning next year’s flowers. For a natural look, try combining cosmos, cornflowers and field poppies.
To ensure your patio provides plenty of pollen and nectar for wildlife, grow lots of pollinator-friendly plants. This container is planted up with purple salvias, scabious and irises. You could also try planting up this nectar-rich container display.
Small trees for providing shade