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The best and worst plants for patios and terraces

The key to mastering the look and feel of your terrace or patio is to treat it as an extension of the house.

You need to inject the same tone, decoration and ambience into your outdoor living area to form a harmonious finish. 

While the furniture, lighting and flooring are obvious ways to achieve this, the importance of picking the best plants for patios and terraces should also be treated as a priority.

Not only do they enhance the theme and style of your home, but they make your outdoor living space more relaxed and tranquil too. 

To give you some inspiration, here are the best plants for patios and terraces, plus a few things to consider before buying.

Plants accustomed to British weather

Before you start buying any plants for your terrace or patio, think about the environment you’re living in. For instance, is your patio or terrace exposed to the sun? Do you live near the sea? Is the back garden sheltered from the wind?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you’ll need plants that are fairly drought and wind tolerant. They also need to be able to live permanently in planters.

While Japanese Acers look fantastic in contemporary homes, they aren’t the best plants for terraces and patios in the UK. Unfortunately, their leaves are prone to windburn and scorching.

Tree ferns and bamboo should be avoided too, as they require a lot of watering and are pot-bound very quickly.

In contrast, plants which know the most thermal amplitudes and are highly resistant to the elements include deutzia, cotoneaster, butterfly trees, spirea, purple lilac and conifers.

Potted plants

For a beautiful HYDROSTAR® patio decoration, the choice of flower pots is crucial. Again, it's all about style. For a "natural" look, wood or wicker plant pots are very trendy at the moment.

Place an earthen jar on a beautiful shrub and put it in a shallow woven basket.

To brighten up your patio or terrace, fill neutral-coloured ceramic pots with pastel-coloured plants, such as pink, rose and crimson Macedonian Scabious.

Olive trees also make a fine terrace or patio pot plant. Their tall elegant shape adds height to your design and doesn’t require a lot of watering. For a slightly edgy twist, you can get olive trees in a Bonsai style which grow to around 1.5 metres tall and wide. Their thick trunks and gorgeous leaves will make an impression on any terrace or patio.

To add more drama and life to your patio or terrace, think Aztec pots on a block paving surface with plants boasting extreme foliage. We particularly like pinus mugo and the Wollemi pine, as they both have needle-like leaves which are accustomed to high-winds and like to grow.

For slow-growing pot-based plants, Chamaerops Humilis pals, lavender and euonymus are viable alternatives.

Hanging planters

Without any space for installing flower beds from the ground, hanging parts are particularly important in adding life to your patio or terrace.

The flowers planted need to be colourful and cater for decorative compositions. Pelargonium, geranium, bellflowers, or calibrachoas come in various shades and are perfect for creating this vibe.

Or for more contemporary décor which only supports green, ivy is a good plan. It’s easy to maintain and adapts to the sun and shade.

Fruit and vegetable plants

Why not make your outdoor living space useful? Growing fruits and vegetable plants will not only help you cook up a storm in the kitchen, but it’ll give your terrace or patio a natural, homely feel too.

Aromatic plants (chives, basil, thyme, coriander) and vegetables like squash, aubergines, radishes and tomatoes are easy to grow in small containers.

It’s a little bit trickier to grow fruit in small spaces due to the volatile nature of British weather. However, if you’re willing to move the plants to more suitable areas during high-winds and freezing conditions, dwarf trees are ideal, as they never exceed 1.5m in height and are self-fertilising. These can produce fruits like apricots, almonds, cherries, peaches, apples, pears and plums.  

Need some further help? Get in touch with your nearest Daniel Moquet hard landscaper to help bring your patio and terrace to life.

Daniel moquetis