Tall Plants for Sun

These tall, sun-loving plants look great in a container on your patio.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios
  • Flowering Maple's Summer Blooms

    Abutilon 'Nabob'

    With maple-like evergreen leaves and lax stems, 'Nabob' has a long summer show of rich crimson flowers. Provide a stout cane to keep it vertical, and water well in summer, with a monthly liquid fertilizer. Water less in winter and bring indoors. Prune lightly in spring.
    Height: 6 feet
    Spread: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist soil, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Agave is Summer Succulent with Showy Foliage

    Agave americana

    A sculptural succulent with a rosette of tough, pointed, spine-tipped leaves, yellow-edged in 'Marginata'. Grow in cactus mix. Water well in summer, giving occasional liquid fertilizer, but keep dry in winter, when it also needs to be kept under cover.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Climbing Chocolate Vine Blooms

    Akebia quinata

    The climbing chocolate vine gets its name from the small, dark purple spring flowers which have a vanilla scent on warm days. Stand against a sunny, sheltered wall and train stems against wires. Prune gently in early spring if necessary.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Colorful Azaleas

    Azalea

    There are two kinds of azaleas: larger azaleas for outdoors and small indoor hybrids. Of outdoor varieties, 30 inches high 'Rose Bud' has rose pink flowers in spring; taller 'Freya' has late spring orange flowers. Both need ericaceous soil and a sheltered site.
    Height: up to 4-1/2 feet
    Spread: up to 4-1/2 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bougainvillea is Flashy Mediterranean Climber

    Bougainvillea 'Scarlett O'Hara'

    A flashy red Mediterranean climber that can be used as a border filler or focal point on a patio. Its side-shoots need cutting back in fall, leaving three to four buds. Water freely in summer, with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Bring indoors in winter.
    Height: up to 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Angel Trumpet Makes an Impressive Patio Plant

    Brugmansia suaveolens (yellow- or white-flowered)

    This brugmansia has long, tubular, white or yellow flowers, their scent strongest in early evening. The large leaves are a feature, but they are easily flayed by the wind, which is why all angels’ trumpets need a sheltered position.
    Height: 6 feet
    Spread: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • White Mexican Orange Blossom Blooms

    Choisya ternata

    Mexican orange blossom is a fine evergreen for late spring with richly scented white flowers. The crushed leaves smell peppery. Shear all over after flowering to encourage a second, smaller burst of flowers. Can be pruned quite hard for shape.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Lemon Trees Well-Suited for Growing in Pots

    Citrus limon x meyeri 'Meyer'

    Lemon trees (actually shrubs) are easily grown in pots to stand outside in summer. With ample summer watering and fertilizing, they produce fruits, which take 6–9 months to ripen. Lemons need a conservatory with some humidity in winter.
    Height: 6 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Amazing and Colorful Climbing Clematis

    Clematis 'Doctor Ruppel'

    A deciduous climber with large, 8-inch wide, deep rose pink flowers with darker bands. They appear in early summer, with a second burst in late summer. Prune in early spring by about half the stem’s length. Train new growth up a trellis.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Partial or dappled shade, Full sun

  • Clematis Blooms Beautify Sunny Patio Spot

    Clematis macropetala

    This deciduous climber is one of the earliest flowering clematis, and has small, bell-shaped, blue flowers from late spring. Excellent cultivars include deep blue 'Lagoon' and lavender-blue 'Maidwell Hall'. All like a sheltered, sunny position, and some support.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Partial or dappled shade, Full sun

  • Beautiful Cup and Saucer Plants

    Cobaea scandens

    A fast-sprinting annual climber, the cup and-saucer plant produces fleshy, bell-like flowers that turn creamy green to purple. Provide trellis or taut wall wires for it to cling to, and keep other showy plants away from it, or they will be smothered.
    Height: 11 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Cabbage Palm

    Cordyline australis

    Slow-growing New Zealand cabbage palms have excellent forms for tubs. The long, pointed leaves of Purpurea Group offer light bronze hues to dark shades of purple; 'Torbay Dazzler' has cream stripes and edging. Water moderately in summer, less in winter.
    Height: up to 4 feet
    Spread: up to 4 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bright and Stunning Crocosmia

    Crocosmia

    Hardly a typical potted plant, but it can be used in large containers for a few years before being thinned or moved to a garden bed. Bright red 'Lucifer' is one of the best; late-summer 'Star of the East' is orange. If clumps get congested, lift and divide in spring.
    Height: 3 feet
    Spread: 3 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Chilean Glory

    Eccremocarpus scaber

    The Chilean glory flower is a tropical evergreen climber that produces masses of growth and bunches of flashy orange-red flowers. They start opening at the end of spring and continue into fall. Wall supports are essential, as are sun and shelter.
    Height: 10 feet
    Spread: 10 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Evergreen Container Plants

    Elaeagnus pungens 'Frederici'

    One of the best evergreens for a pot, this compact, slow-growing shrub has bright yellow leaves edged in dark green. It has sweetly scented, whitish fall flowers and red fruit after a hot summer. 'Maculata' has more striking, yellowish leaves.
    Height: up to 10 feet
    Spread: up to 10 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Japonica Adds Strong Presence to Shady Patio

    Fatsia japonica

    Evergreen Japanese aralia adds a strong presence to a shady corner. Grown for its mass of large, shapely, deeply cut shiny leaves; creamy white flowers appear in fall. If it gets too big, cut back the main stem in spring; new shoots soon appear.
    Height: 6 feet or more
    Spread: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Common Fig Has Impressive Show of Leaves and Fruit

    Ficus carica

    Common fig has a punchy presence with its large, lobed leaves. Use a pot 15–24 inches wide and deep; stand in a sunny, sheltered place. In summer, water well and fertilize weekly. Initially, prune branches by half in spring for a productive framework.
    Height: up to 8 feet
    Spread: up to 8 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Evergreen Hebes Shoots Into Spring

    Hebe 'Great Orme'

    The evergreen hebes make excellent container plants. This is a compact shrub with bright pink flower spikes, gradually fading to white, from midsummer to mid-fall. It has shiny green leaves and dark purple shoots. Prune gently in spring to tidy up.
    Height: 3 feet
    Spread: 3 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • At the Hop

    Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'

    Golden hop is a fast-climbing perennial producing a superb mass of large, yellow-green leaves from spring to fall, providing a bright contrast to other climbers. Grow up a sunny trellis or wall wires. Use the flowers in dried displays.
    Height: up to 12 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Climbing Purple Morning Glory Vines

    Ipomoea 'Grandpa Otts'

    Climbing morning glories come in many colors, this annual being an intense, rich purple. Plants can be left?to twine up and around a tall wigwam of canes, other climbers or even shrubs. It is easily grown from seed in spring. Shade from fierce sun.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Climbing Jasmine

    Jasminum officinale

    The rampant, climbing, white-flowered jasmine has an intense summer scent, best appreciated in a sheltered spot. Young plants twirl around canes but mature plants in large tubs need wall wires. Prune quite hard in spring if needed.
    Height: 9 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full Sun

  • Junipers in Containers

    Juniperus communis 'Compressa'

    Ideal if you need a slow-growing, slender, upright, bright green conifer. Makes an excellent feature in a large trough with alpines or contrasting, smaller, rounded conifers; it requires minimum care. 'Brynhyfryd Gold' has a golden tint on new spring foliage.
    Height: up to 1.6 feet
    Spread: 12 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Brightly Blooming Lantana

    Lantana camara

    An evergreen shrub with clusters of bright flowers, ranging in color from white to yellow (aging to red), orange, pink, red, and purple. It makes a good standard. Grow against a wall in summer, and bring indoors in winter.
    Height: up to 4 feet
    Spread: up to 4 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Colorful Climbing Sweet Peas

    Lathyrus odoratus

    Annual climbing sweet peas come in a wide color range; the best have a powerful scent. Grow from seed in fall or early spring; at 3 inches tall, pinch out stem tips for bushier growth. Grow up a wigwam of canes with a wrap-around of string.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bay Trees are Often Grown as Topiaries

    Laurus nobilis

    Bay trees are often best grown as standards with a ball of aromatic evergreen leaves on top of a bare stem 3 feet or so tall. Provide a sheltered, sunny position. Clip for shape in summer.
    Height: up to 6 feet
    Spread: up to 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Lemon Lilies Perfect for Big Containers

    Lilium Citronella Group

    This nearly head-high lily is ideal for large pots because its bright lemon yellow speckled summer flowers stand out like exotic, hovering butterflies. They contrast well poking above and between the shapely leaves of cordylines and melianthus.
    Height: 4-1/2 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full Sun

  • Regal Lily

    Lilium regale

    This lily gives sensational results in midsummer, with large, purple-backed white flower trumpets and a strong, sweet scent ('Album' is all-white). Plant bulbs in fall at a depth of about 8 inches and 4–8 inches apart.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Chinese Fan Palm

    Livistona chinensis

    The Chinese fan palm has shiny, rounded leaves divided into long, thin fingers on a stiff, upright trunk. It is a slow grower, putting on only a couple of leaves a year. In theory, it can reach a huge size, but in a pot, it does not usually exceed 36 inches high.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Cardinal Flower

    Lobelia cardinalis

    A twin-purpose summer perennial that excels in a container display (it must not dry out), and in an aquatic basket at the edge of a pond. It has dark reddish purple stems, bronzy leaves, and scarlet flowers. Keep in damp soil indoors over winter.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Shrubby Honeybush Makes Good Architectural Plant

    Melianthus major

    One of the best architectural plants, the shrubby honeybush has large, toothed, gray-green leaves. Provide sun and shelter; the latter is crucial in winter, when the top-growth dies back. If severe frosts threaten, throw some protection over the container.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Tarentin Myrtle Mediterranean Evergreen Shrub

    Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina

    Ideal against a wall in a sheltered spot, myrtle is a bushy Mediterranean shrub with evergreen leaves, aromatic when crushed. Tiny white berries follow pinkish white late summer flowers. Avoid cold, windy sites. Give a spring trim, if required.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Pink Oleander Grown for Flowers and Leaves

    Nerium oleander

    Mediterranean rose bay is grown for its flowers and leaves. Typically pink flowers ('Casablanca' offers white; 'Ruby Lace', red) appear over a long summer period; leathery leaves are thin and pointed. Water sparingly in winter; prune for shape in late winter.
    Height: 6 feet
    Spread: 3 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Extend an Olive Branch

    Olea europaea

    Olive tree with tiny yellow flowers that needs a chilly winter and a long hot summer for a crop of olives. Water with care in summer, giving a liquid fertilizer monthly; water sparingly in winter. The self-fertile 'Aglandau' is the hardiest.
    Height: up to 10 feet
    Spread: up to 6 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Blue Passion Flower is Vigorous Evergreen Climber

    Passiflora caerulea

    The blue passion flower is a vigorous evergreen climber with startling flowers mixing white petals, a black ring, blue frills, and a prominent green stalk. Outside, provide a sunny, sheltered spot and give the stems a trellis or wired wall/fence to climb up.
    Height: 9 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • A Striking Variety of the New England Flax Plant

    Phormium tenax

    Perennial New Zealand flax makes a clump of spiky, swordlike leaves, with long spikes of dull red flowers in summer. Brash 'Dazzler' has bronze leaves striped pink, red, and orange; 'Variegatum' is edged creamy yellow. Give it a sheltered spot over winter.
    Height: up to 6 feet
    Spread: up to 3 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bell Vine is Unusual Easily Grown Climber

    Rhodochiton atrosanguineus

    An unusual, easily grown climber. From summer to fall it has pink-purple, parachute-like flowers with a long, protruding, maroon tube. Being tender, it is grown as an annual outdoors; train it up a wigwam of canes in a pot or against wall wires.
    Height: 6 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Shower with Praise

    Rosa 'Golden Showers'

    A remarkably free-flowering climber, with sweet-scented flowers (good for cutting) that turn from bright yellow to lemon and cream. They invariably appear in small clusters, and stand up well to heavy rain. One of the most successful roses against a north wall.
    Height: 8 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Fragrant Red English Rose

    Rosa 'L. D. Braithwaite'

    A gorgeous, bright red bushy rose, with loose, free-and-easy growth. The fully open flowers are scented only when they are about to peak. Prune in late winter by half to two-thirds; lighter pruning gives more summer stems with smaller blooms.
    Height: 3-1/2 feet
    Spread: 3-1/2 feet
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Rosemary Plants

    Rosmarinus officinalis 'Miss Jessop’s Upright'

    This rosemary has a strong, upright shape, valuable in winter when gardens are quiet. Thin the growth when cutting for cooking to prevent it from becoming a bushy blob. Light blue flowers appear in mid-spring.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Tall Salvia Plant

    Salvia guaranitica

    An ideal candidate for an ambitious display needing a tall vertical with dark blue flowers. It needs protection over winter (cut stems back to soil level). Water liberally over summer and give a monthly fertilizer, but water sparingly in winter.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Midwinter Evergreen Shrub

    Sarcococca confusa

    Christmas box is the ideal shrub for midwinter because of its scented white flowers, followed by tiny black berries. Extremely tough, it can easily be placed in a shady spot. If sited in full sun, keep the soil moist. Spring prune to keep it shapely.
    Height: up to 4 feet
    Spread: 30 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bluebell Creeper has Spray of Pale Blue Flowers

    Sollya heterophylla

    The evergreen Australian bluebell creeper has thin, twining woody stems and sprays of pale blue flowers all summer followed by cylindrical seed pods. Stand in a conservatory or frost-free greenhouse from fall to early summer. Pink forms available.
    Height: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Partial or dappled shade

  • Staked Cherry Tomatoes

    Tomatoes

    The fruit comes in pink, purple, yellow, and orange as well as red, and is easily grown from seed. Tie upright cordons to sturdy canes. Nip off the main stem after four or five flower clusters, remove sideshoots, and fertilize regularly; water liberally.
    Height: up to 6 feet
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Startling Star Jasmine

    Trachelospermum jasminoides

    The evergreen star climber has a lovely, delicate scent and needs to romp up wall wires or an adjacent, sturdy climber. The glossy green leaves turn reddish bronze in winter. Put it in a warm spot. If growth is too much, cut back after flowering.
    Height: 13 feet
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Evergreen Chusan Palm

    Trachycarpus wagnerianus

    The miniature, evergreen Chusan palm has a vertical trunk with shiny, oval, rigid leaves slashed into splayed fingers. Bought as a young house plant, it will stay small for a long time. Stand it outside over summer, but bring under cover in winter.
    Height: 7-1/2 feet
    Spread: 30 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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