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6 low-maintenance outdoor potted plants your patio needs to be its brightest, most inviting self this summer

It’s hard to resist the call of warm weather. Outdoor parties, barbecues, and dinners on the patio are all activities we love to take part in when the sun is out. Some bright colors and interesting plants could liven up this gathering spot, but what if your thumb isn’t even remotely green? No problem! These easy-to-care-for potted plants will be happy to hang out with you all growing season long. It doesn’t matter if you have a sun-blasted deck or a shady back patio; we’ve got you covered with plants for both situations so that you can create a stunning backdrop for all those fun parties with your friends and family. 

Have a patio that gets baked by the sun all day? Try these plants!

Many of our favorite plants would wither up and die if exposed to the harsh sun all through the day. Here are some sun-loving beauties that thrive in full sun and are resistant to drought. 

marigolds with a butterfly


Marigolds are one of the most popular flowering plants to place in pots on front porches or back decks. With their bright yellow and orange blooms, it’s easy to see why! Not only are they gorgeous flowers, but they require almost effortless care. They prefer to dry out between waterings, and they love full sun. That means you can let them hang out in the sun and not worry about killing them if you miss a watering day.

For best results, plant your marigolds in well-draining soil in a pot that’s about 3 inches larger than the root ball. Also, deadhead your marigolds (i.e., pluck off the dead and wilted blooms) to extend bloom production throughout the summer. 

Silver ponyfoot

Although this isn’t a flowering plant, silver ponyfoot is a delicate vining plant that cascades down hanging pots or the sides of a retaining wall. The leaves are a silvery green color that will create a lovely backdrop for more brightly colored plants such as the marigolds mentioned above. Silver ponyfoot grows quickly, is drought tolerant, and will thrive in full sun or partial shade. This waterfall plant is almost impossible to kill, but it won’t survive a harsh winter, so it must be brought indoors during the colder months. 



You’ve likely spent an evening with friends and seen geraniums hanging in city gardens or window boxes along your neighborhood streets. They are a trendy flowering plant available in a wide range of colors, including white, red, coral, pink, purple, yellow, and blue. Part of their popularity is due to their durability against full sun and droughts. For optimal growth, let your geraniums dry out between waterings. Fertilize them every two weeks during the summer to get the most blooms. To encourage even more blooms, you can deadhead your geraniums and enjoy stunning colors all summer long.

During the winter, the roots will need to dry out more often, but not completely. Geraniums will go through a dormant season and then be back to blooming by springtime. In early spring, you can repot your geraniums into pots 2 to 3 inches bigger than their old pots to encourage growth.

Have a covered or shady patio? These plants will be right at home

While some plants are sun lovers and can’t seem to get enough light, others are more delicate and prefer life in a nice shady spot. Here are three beautiful plants that will thrive on your shaded patio. 

Vase of flowering begonias


These are a common plant to keep indoors; however, they also can be kept outside for a unique splash of color, both with their leaves and blooms. Many begonias have stunning flowers, and some of them even resemble roses. Begonias like full shade, standard potting soil, and do not like to dry out between waterings. It’s best to keep the deep part of the soil damp and provide extra water when the top few inches are dry. They also love humidity; if the outside humidity level drops below 10%, be sure to hose down the patio and give the leaves a heavy shower to increase the humidity levels around the plant. When temperatures start to drop, bring your begonias indoors to hang out until springtime. 

Close up of caladium leaves that are mostly red with a little bit of white and green edges


This is another plant with striking leaves that are bound to please and shock your dinner guests. Caladiums can range from red center leaves with white rims to purple, green, white, and pink. They look so different that you might get accused of having a fake plant!

While some varieties are sun tolerant, most prefer full shade and high humidity. They like their soil to be moist, but they don’t want to sit in water, so be sure to allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. When nighttime temperatures begin to drop below 60, it’s time to bring the caladium indoors for the winter. 

heucheras leaves


Also known as coral bells, heucheras are a magnet plant for hummingbirds and butterflies. So not only will you enjoy a beautiful plant, but you’ll also get some fantastic visitors as well! Coral bells do come in a fun coral color, as the name implies, but you can also find them in red, white, pink, purple, blue, and orange varieties. Heucheras can survive in full sun, but they prefer partial shade and well-draining, moist soil. Do not allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but wait for the soil on top to dry and then water thoroughly again. To fertilize, use a water-soluble fertilizer. Be sure not to over-fertilize or else you might inhibit the plant’s ability to bloom. 

You can’t go wrong with any of these uniquely beautiful plants. Choose your favorite or all six to bring color, intrigue, and even hummingbirds to your patio. These plants and their winged friends are sure to set the mood for a lovely outdoor party or date night on the deck. 

Editors' Recommendations

Rebecca Wolken
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rebecca's has written for Bob Villa and a Cincinnati based remodeling company. When she's not writing about home remodeling…
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