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Essential Patio Plants for Your Outdoor Space (Australian Guide)

Sprucing up your patio with plants creates an inviting outdoor space where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.

There are plenty of attractive plants that will grow happily in pots and that will liven up your patio space.

But before you start collecting plants, take a look at your patio space throughout the day to see which areas are in sun and which areas tend to get a lot of shade.

This will determine the types of plants you can position in the different spaces.

Lush plants in large pots always look great on a patio but you could change it up a bit by purchasing a tiered plant stand that you can utilise to position smaller plants.

Or, do what I’ve done on my front verandah, and repurpose an old wooden ladder as a plant stand.

Here’s a list of some of the best plants that will live happily on your patio.

Chilli Plants

chilli plant | Plant varieties

For a colourful display and a productive plant that you can harvest, why not consider a chilli plant or two?

These plants grow really well in pots and are ideal for growing on a sunny patio.

Chilli plants do need full sunlight to flower and fruit, so these are ideal for that sun-drenched spot on your patio.

While vegetable gardeners will plant chillies in their gardens during the summer months, most varieties can be grown as perennials as long as they’re protected from extreme cold.

This means you can nurture your plant for many years without having to replace it annually.

Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddle leaf Fig Ficus lyrata | Plant varieties

This is one of the most spectacular plants that you can have on your patio in a large pot. It has striking large dark green leaves and an interesting structure.

Position this plant in a spot that gets indirect sunlight.

This rainforest tree can reach a mature height of 12 metres but will remain much smaller when grown in a pot on your patio.

You also need to let the soil dry out before watering it again. For this reason, you should have free-draining soil and don’t leave a saucer under the plant that has water in it constantly.

Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Golden Cane Palm Dypsis lutescens | Plant varieties

For a touch of the tropics, consider investing in a lush golden cane palm that you can show off in a large pot.

This plant does prefer growing in a shaded spot and should be protected from strong winds.

However, it’s also suitable for spots on your patio that receive some sunlight during the day.

The golden cane palm can reach a mature height of 8 metres but ones that are grown in a pot never reach this height because their growth is restricted by the size of the pot.

It’s important to keep this plant well-watered but ensure it has free-draining soil to grow in.

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Japanese Maple Acer palmatum | Plant varieties

For a truly spectacular statement, consider growing a Japanese maple in a large pot on your balcony.

This is such a delightful small tree with its variations in leaf colour in various shades of green, yellow and red. 

But, it’s not just the foliage that makes this plant stand out. It also has a beautiful growth habit that inspires a feeling of grace and reflection even when the branches are bare.

It can be grown in a sunny spot on your patio but protect it from the hot western sun. It also needs to be protected from strong winds.

Just bear in mind, that if you love these gorgeous trees as much as I do, you’ll have some cleanup to do when your Japanese maple drops its colourful leaves in autumn.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Peace Lily Spathiphyllum wallisii | Plant varieties

If you have a spot on your patio that is mostly shaded from the sun but still relatively bright, you could consider a peace lily. This is a very popular indoor plant and is suited to smaller pots.

It has lovely dark green, glossy leaves and white spathe flower spikes. It can grow to a height of 70 cm.

You do have to keep this out of direct sunlight and it likes plenty of moisture but must have free-draining soil.

It also prefers a warmer spot on your patio that is protected from cold winds and frost.

However, keep this plant away from your pets and young children as it’s toxic if eaten.

Rosemary

Rosemary 1 | Plant varieties

Rosemary is not only a delicious herb to add to your roast lamb, but it’s also a very attractive small shrub that is ideal for growing in a large pot on your patio.

As rosemary is a Mediterranean plant, make sure you place it in a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and warmth.

However, I have a rosemary plant growing in my garden here in coastal Victoria and it continues to thrive even through winter.

Not only can you snip off a few sprigs to use in the kitchen, but the rosemary plant puts on a lovely floral display in late winter.

Rosemary also handles pruning really well which means it’s easy to keep it in shape and control its growth.

Plus, there’s that delicious scent of its aromatic leaves when you accidentally brush past it.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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