It feels like it has been a very long winter but spring is finally just around the corner. You can literally smell it in the air. The evenings are starting to get a little lighter. The clocks go forward in a few days, the birds are starting to wake us up in the morning and people are starting to venture out into their gardens again desperate to blow the cobwebs of winter away. A lot of the time people can tend to focus on the grassed areas and borders of their garden when thinking about starting to plan what plants and trees they want. However what about the patio area? Potted plants can be an excellent addition especially if you have a smaller garden. Often times the patio can be forgotten about but it is almost like an extension to our home and where we spend a lot of our time when we are outside on a hot summer’s day with friends and family or where we have a drink in the early evening to wind down after a long day at work. The patio is where we place our carefully selected garden furniture but what low maintenance plants could we put there to bring the colour from the garden right to our back door?
For the most impact try to choose containers of the same colour or material and try to blend them with what you already have. For example a terracotta pot looks amazing against red brick.
Make sure to use these plants to accentuate the area. They can be excellent at softening harsh corners or framing doorways and arches.
The best thing about utilising your patio area is how much fun you can have growing several different plants that don’t take up a lot of space and are not too hard to look after. If you have children, get them involved too. Not only will they love getting their hands dirty but they will love to see the fruits of their hard labour flourish when their plant finally blooms!
Here are five options that are the perfect additions to any keen gardeners’ patio no matter how much of a green thumb you do or do not have!
The Skimmia “Rubella” is an evergreen shrub that originates from Japan. It is tough and long lasting so is perfect for novice gardeners and will provide colour to your patio all year round. Red buds are dotted throughout the green foliage all through the winter and by the time Spring arrives white blossoms burst open bringing a beautiful fragrance with it. They are extremely easy to look after and once established need very little attention. They do need good drainage and the soil should be kept slightly damp.
The Agapanthus is a plant that thrives with patio life and is quickly becoming a firm favourite with gardeners all over. Native to South Africa there are several varieties of the Agapanthus depending on what colour flowers you would prefer. As the plant gets bigger and the roots become more restricted and entwined more and more flowers appear making it quite the attraction. The African Lily virality yields a blue drum stick headed flower, whereas the ‘Twister’ gives a two toned flower. They are a hardy variety of plant whose leaves die down in the winter. Although they love the full sun during the Summer they do prefer to be sheltered during the winter time. Don’t we all!
The Topiary Spiral would be such an elegant addition to your patio and would add a modern twist. It is an evergreen plant and as the name suggests it grows into a spiral shape. It is relatively low maintenance and sturdy. You do need to water it at the base once a week as due to its dense leaves rainwater tends to run straight off of it. Pruning any stray edges will help it to keep its unique shape.
Callistemon Viminalis “Hot Pink”
Now this is the star attraction and would be an amazing centerpiece to your patio area. It is commonly known as a type of bottlebrush plant from Australia and gets its name from the spikes of flowers it produces. As the name suggests the frothy blooms are a brilliant hot pink! Butterflies adore this plant. It is hardy and is highly resistant to heat. The plant will bloom in early spring and have a long enough stem that they are happy to be cut and then brought indoors. Having a vase of these flowers would brighten up any kitchen table and make a lovely change from normal store bought flowers. This plant will happily keep growing but if you want to keep it planted in a terracotta pot then yearly pruning is advisable.
For a gardener who really doesn’t have a lot of time to spare then the Aeoniums are perfect to grow on your patio as they basically take care of themselves. These drought resistant succulents are native to the Canary Islands. They are a different looking plant with long arching stems and a rosette flower. They almost don’t look real and you would be forgiven for thinking that they were not! Their leaves can vary in colour from red, green, yellow and white. These beautiful plants thrive best in direct sunlight but will still cope with partial shade if needed. They need very little soil so are perfect to be potted on a patio and size will vary between the different varieties but as with a lot of plants, by having them potted you will have a lot more control over their eventual size. They do not need regular watering so they really are low maintenance! The sunburnt variety will give stunning pale yellow, white and green stripes and can also withstand a frost whereas the Atropurpureum variety, if grown in direct sunlight will yield beautiful marron leaves.
Enjoy your refreshingly cool afternoon drink with your feet up and take in all the beautiful colours and smells from your carefully selected patio plants!