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Top 10 plants for patios

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Kobold' from T&M

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Kobold' is a hardy perennial that's perfect for pots
Image: Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Kobold' from Thompson & Morgan

Give your patio the makeover it deserves by filling planters, pots and hanging baskets with a sizzling selection of perennial patio plants. Summer flowers add eye-catching colour and keep the pollinators happy, while evergreen foliage softens hard landscaping and provides year round interest. From evergreen plants for pots for all year round structure to radiant flowers - this selection includes everything you need to make the very best of your patio through every season. Here are ten of our favourite patio plants to fill your patio containers:

  1. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo'
  2. Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold'
  3. Standard Laurus nobilis
  4. Agapanthus africanus 'Twister'
  5. Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze
  6. Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink'
  7. Rosemary 'Miss Jessop's Upright'
  8. Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy Little Ruby'
  9. Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby'
  10. Lilac dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White'

Read on to find out why each of these plants won a place among our ten favourite plants, or browse our full range of Patio Plants for even more choice.

1. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo' from T&M

Evoke the tropics on your patio with a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo'
Image: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo' from Thompson & Morgan

This fantastic, exotic shrub eventually reaches a height of 1.5m, making it an impressive centrepiece when in full bloom. Flowering from May all the way through to October, each of the large and delicate blooms of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Apollo' remain on the plant for up to six days. 

Plant your tender Hibiscus in a large container, and place it in a sheltered part of your patio that gets full sun. You may need to move it into a frost-free space during the winter months, where the glossy evergreen foliage will continue to provide a welcome splash of green.

2. Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold'

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' from T&M

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' is a fantastic ornamental foliage plant
Image: Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' from Thompson & Morgan

Golden yellow variegated foliage makes this evergreen shrub perfect for shaded patios. A well-known RHS AGM variety, it provides a bright splash of colour in the depths of winter, especially during cold snaps when the leaves turn an attractive shade of pinkish red. 

A plant whose variegation becomes more pronounced the more sun it gets, Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' is a highly versatile plant. A great option if you’re short of time, it’s hardy enough to withstand the worst of the British weather, thrives in pretty much any soil provided it’s moist and well-drained, and requires barely any attention.

3. Patio Standards

Laurus nobilis (Standard) from T&M

Add instant sophistication to an entrance with Laurus nobilis standards
Image: Laurus nobilis (Standard) from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re looking to frame a doorway or add a touch of formality to your terrace planting scheme, standards are plants specially trained into a classic upright stem, with a tight ball of foliage at the top. A pair of standards planted in matching containers is an easy way to bring a touch of class to your patio display.

Go for a Laurus nobilis standard for evergreen elegance, or choose from four glorious rose standards in red, white, yellow or pink for sophisticated summer blooms. Azalea 'Japanese Red' gives you the best of both worlds with flowers in April and May before forming a ball of striking red, and dark glossy evergreen foliage for the rest of the year. Simply move this standard into a prominent position in spring.

4. Agapanthus africanus 'Twister'

Agapanthus africanus 'Twister' from T&M

Agapanthus africanus 'Twister' has eye-catching two-tone flowers
Image: Agapanthus africanus 'Twister' from Thompson & Morgan

Agapanthus is a hardy perennial that’s ideal for growing in patio containers because the more constricted its roots, the more flowers it produces. Long, robust flower stems, which require no staking, erupt from a base of hardy, strappy leaves, and bloom from July through to September. 

From the reliable 'Ever Sapphire' and 'Ever White' for bold, single coloured flowers, to glorious Agapanthus africanus 'Twister' whose petals are inky blue at the base, fading to white at the tips, we offer a lovely range of agapanthus from which to choose.

5. Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze'

Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze' from T&M

Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze' has has striking flower colours and detailing
Image: Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze' from Thompson & Morgan

If you love warm buttery colours, then perennial Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze' is the perfect patio plant for you. Thriving in full sun or semi-shade, you can expect lush foliage in spring, followed by glorious orange and yellow blooms from June to October. 

Alstroemeria 'Summer Breeze' is a compact plant with an upright habit. The stems reach a height of 60cm, making them ideal for cutting. This hardy perennial dies down over winter, but returns again every spring.

6. Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink'

Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink' from T&M

The bright pink brush like flowers of Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink' are a great focal point
Image: Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink' from Thompson & Morgan

Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink' – also aptly named the ‘bottle brush’ plant – isports unusual, hot pink coloured ‘bristles’. Native to Australia, it’s a great option for patio pots because it's drought tolerant, hardy and exotic, looking fantastic on your patio provided it gets plenty of sun. 

Expect frothy blooms from May until July, and plenty of bees and butterflies to follow. Position your Callistemon in a sheltered corner where it will reach a mature height of around 1.5m. The long-stemmed blooms make excellent cut flowers too.

7. Rosemary 'Miss Jessop's Upright'

Rosemary 'Miss Jessop's Upright' from T&M

Add rosemary to your patio display for fragrance and a handy kitchen herb
Image: Darby Nursery Stock Ltd

Adding herb plants among your patio containers is a smart move, not only because they provide the freshest of kitchen ingredients right by your back door, but also because of their deep, rich fragrance. For attractive evergreen foliage and pale lilac flowers which bloom from late April to June, try Rosemary 'Miss Jessop's Upright'.

This rosemary provides year-round colour in a sunny corner of your patio, grows to a medium size, reaching a maximum height of around 2m, and is a good option for growing in longer containers to provide a hedging effect. Like all rosemary, it’s a versatile and delicious culinary ingredient.

8. Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy Little Ruby'

Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy Little Ruby' from T&M

Intense red is a rare colour for Buddlejas
Image: Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy Little Ruby' from Thompson & Morgan

Bred for its tidy, compact nature, Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy Little Ruby' thrives in containers and matures at only 80cm tall. With intense deep red flowers (an exceptional colour for buddlejas), the conical blooms contrast beautifully with the grey foliage. Particularly irresistible to butterflies, this plant attracts pollinators to your patio all summer long. 

The unique Buddleja 'Butterfly Candy' Collection contains three further spectacular dwarf buddlejas in white, purple and lilac. Group them together in patio containers for a beautiful summer display from June through to October.

9. Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby'

Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby' from T&M

The flowers of Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby' are delightfully two-toned
Image: Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby' from Thompson & Morgan

To lend a cottage garden feel to your patio display, try this dwarf version of the classic garden mallow. Compact and floriferous, Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby' is perfect for patio containers. Position your pot so it takes centre stage – the racemes of saucer-shaped soft pink blooms draw the attention of people and pollinators alike during the summer months.

Once established, this tough little mallow needs little maintenance and even tolerates short periods of drought. Reaching 75cm tall at maturity, it flowers from June to September.

10. Lilac Dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White'

Lilac Dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White' from T&M

Lilac Dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White' has an extra long flowering time
Image: Lilac Dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White' from Thompson & Morgan

If you love the buzz of bees, here’s a pollinator-friendly plant well worth bringing to your patio. Lilac dwarf 'Flowerfesta® White' is a dwarf lilac which blooms copiously in May and June, followed by a second flush of fragrant blooms from September until the first frosts. The scented flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies, filling your patio with classic lilac perfume.

The neat and compact growth habit of this deciduous shrub makes it ideal for patio containers. For the best results, place your hardy shrub in full sun.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection of ten of our favourite patio plants. For more information on growing container plants, head over to our patio hub page, where you’ll find lots of helpful advice. Particularly proud of your patio? Share your images with us via Twitter or Instagram using #YourTMGarden. We love to see your success stories!

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