Medium-Sized Plants for Sun

These sun-loving, medium-sized plants are great in containers on your patio.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios
  • Flowering Chinese Lantern

    Abutilon megapotamicum

    A shrubby plant covered in little red and yellow flowers and fresh green leaves in summer. Train the main, gently arching stems against a wall or tie to canes. Bring under cover at the end of summer. Prune sideshoots by two-thirds in spring.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Black Rose has Deep Dark Purple Leaves

    Aeonium 'Zwartkop'

    A striking, fashionable plant with shrubby stems topped by a rosette of deep dark purple, almost black leaves. Grow in cactus mix set off by a top layer of gravel. Water freely over summer, letting it dry out between drinks. Keep dry in winter.
    Height: up to 36 inches
    Spread: up to 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Blue African Lily Best Displayed in Ornamental Pot

    Agapanthus

    The blue or white African lilies are best highlighted in Versailles tubs or ornamental pots; they hate heavy garden soil. Even the hardiest dislike the cold, and might not flower, so stick to the Headbourne Hybrids. Water well in summer; feed monthly.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Aloe is Eye Catching Succulent with Yellow Flowers

    Aloe

    An eye-catching succulent with yellow summer flowers on erect, branching spikes; the long, pointed fleshy leaves are gray-green. Stand outside in summer, then move under cover. Water moderately in summer, sparingly in winter; feed occasionally.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Colorful Love Lies Bleeding

    Amaranthus caudatus

    Theatrically called love-lies-bleeding because of the long, bright red flower tassels, this tropical annual makes a showy plant from midsummer into fall. Feed and water well. Sow seed in spring, and stand plants in a sheltered spot, tied to canes.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Red Amaranth, Chinese Spinach

    Amaranthus tricolor

    Chinese spinach makes a flamboyant, bushy foliage plant that is lipstick-redat its flashiest, with quieter kinds in green, often with added bronze, gold or pink tints. 'Joseph’s Coat' is brash red and gold. Grow from seed sown in spring.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 12 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Masterful Marguerite

    Anthemis tinctoria 'E. C. Buxton'

    The perennial golden marguerite gives a cottage-garden show with pale lemon yellow flowers in early summer. 'Beauty of Grallach' is orange-gold, 'Sauce Hollandaise' pale yellow. Cut back hard after flowering to force fresh growth from the base.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Daisy-like Blooms

    Argyranthemum foeniculaceum

    An indispensable shrubby plant with white, daisy-like flowers that quickly perk things up. Nip out the growing tips in spring for a bushier shape, and deadhead to encourage a succession of flower buds. Bring under cover in fall; cut back hard next spring.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Wormwood Leaves

    Artemisia 'Powis Castle'

    With its dense, silvery mound of feathery leaves, this is a good \"contrast plant\" used with stronger, bolder colors, or as part of a gentle pastel scheme. Give it a hard spring pruning after shoots start appearing at the base of the woody stem.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Astilbe Lights Up Shady Spots

    Astilbe 'Fanal'

    'Fanal' has dark red flowers in early summer and dark green leaves. Alternatives include 'Purpurlanze', with purple-red late summer flowers; lilac-pink 'Hyazinth', and white 'Irrlicht', which blooms in late spring. Keep the soil moist in summer.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Touch of the Tropics

    Canna

    Cannas make strong focal points. 'Wyoming' has brown-purple leaves with purple veins, 'Durban' has green- and pink-striped foliage; both have orange flowers. Cut off top-growth when frost comes; store the rhizomes in a frost-free place.
    Height: up to 5 feet
    Spread: up to 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Gardener's Favorite False Cypress

    Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Nana'

    A mini-mound of a conifer, ideal for use in a trough, with sprays of light green foliage with a dash of silver beneath. Alternatives include yellow-speckled 'Plumosa Aurea' and 'Nana Aureovariegata', and 'Silver Lode' with white flecking at the leaf tips.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Fully hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Most, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Striking Spider Flower

    Cleome hassleriana

    A small clump of the annual spider plant is eye-catching in a large container. The upright, scented petals come in a range of colors (white, pink, lilac, and purple), but note the vicious spines at the junction of leaf and stem. Raise from seed.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 16 inches
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Morning Glory with Trumpet Shaped Flowers

    Convolvulus cneorum

    A compact shrub that performs all summer, with yellow-centered white flowers opening from pink buds, set against silver-green foliage. Use well-drained, gritty potting mix. Stand in full sun but give shelter in winter. Lightly prune for shape after flowering.
    Height: 18 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Chocolate Cosmos

    Cosmos atrosanguineus

    Chocolate cosmos is well worth growing for its unusual, deep maroon flowers on top of long, thin stems held well clear of the foliage. On hot, sunny days, they smell like chocolate. Bring under cover over winter, and water it occasionally.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Pink Cosmos

    Cosmos bipinnatus

    A colorful annual, easily grown from seed in spring, with white, pink, or red flowers on top of stems with filigree leaves. Selections include the compact Sonata Series and 'Sea Shells', which has unusual rolled-up petals. Deadhead for more flowers.
    Height: up to 36 inches
    Spread: up to 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Charming and Colorful Court Jester Daisies

    Chrysanthemum carinatum 'Court Jesters'

    Easily grown from seed, this annual produces an open-rayed flower, usually white or yellow with a hint of red around the purple eye. Fast-growing and quick-branching, it creates a summer-long show.
    Height: 18 inches
    Spread: 9 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Red Dahlias

    Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'

    Highly rated, with scarlet flowers and black-red foliage. When leaves are blackened by frost (or in mid-fall), slice off stems at the base and stand tubers upside down for three weeks in an airy, frost-free place. Store over winter in bark chips.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bicolor Dahlia

    Dahlia 'Hayley Jane'

    A bicolor in white with purple-pink edges, ideal for pastel schemes or to brighten up stronger colors. Insert strong canes in the soil when planting in spring. Growing dahlias in pots helps stop slugs from savaging new growth. See D. 'Bishop of Llandaff'.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 24 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Purple Dahlia Has Strong Presence

    Dahlia 'Hillcrest Royal'

    This rich purple dahlia has a strong presence. Nip out the main growing tip after four weeks to promote bushier growth and more flowers; keep deadheading. Give a tomato fertilizer from midsummer to promote new buds. See D. 'Bishop of Llandaff'.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bold Bloom of the Moonfire Dahlia

    Dahlia 'Moonfire'

    A useful small dahlia that gets off to a quick start, with rich yellow flowers and bronze leaves. Grow it in front of taller, more richly colored dahlias, or use to encircle a large barrel featuring more dominant plants. See D. 'Bishop of Llandaff' for growing tips.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 12 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Burning Bush Shrubs put on Fall Foliage Show

    Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'

    This dwarf, dense form of the deciduous winged spindle has dark green foliage that flares deep red in fall. The branches are corky; pale red fruit follows insignificant light green summer flowers. Do not let the shrub bake dry in summer.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 30 inches
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Most, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Blue Fescue Grows in Low Silvery Blue Mounds

    Festuca glauca

    With its porcupine spines in silver blue, the evergreen grass blue fescue adds a distinctive note to any scheme, especially those with strong sculptural forms. There are spikelets of flowers in early and midsummer. Bright blue 'Blaufuchs' is an excellent cultivar.
    Height: up to 12 inches
    Spread: 10 inches
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Bicolored Fuchsia is Striking Free Flowering Plant

    Fuchsia 'Checkerboard'

    Often grown as a standard, this striking, elegant fuchsia has red and white flowers. Replacement buds appear all summer, when it will need regular fertilizing. Cut back in spring to promote new growth. Bring under cover in winter and keep just moist.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 18 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Thalia Fuchsia

    Fuchsia 'Thalia'

    A non-blowzy fuchsia, 'Thalia' has thin red tubular flowers set against olive green, red-veined leaves. It has a vigorous, upright shape, but nip out the stem tips in late spring to make it bushier. Fertilize through summer; bring under cover in fall.
    Height: up to 30 inches
    Spread: up to 30 inches
    Hardiness: Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Glorious Golden Flower

    Grindelia chiloensis

    A summer-flowering shrub (evergreen in mild winters), with cornflower-like yellow flowers, held on stout, single stems, well clear of the bushy growth and gray-green leaves. It needs plenty of sun and well-drained soil. Cut off any frost-damaged parts.
    Height: 30 inches
    Spread: 30 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Compact Shape Hebe is Welcome

    Hebe vernicosa

    A small rounded evergreen shrub from New Zealand with shiny, dark green leaves. Slender spikes of white flowers (which might initially be pale lilac) appear at the start of summer. Give a gentle pruning if required, to smarten it up after flowering.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 36 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

  • Common Hydrangeas Come in Mopheads or Lacecaps

    Hydrangea macrophylla

    Common hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) have two forms: mopheads, with rounded flower clusters, and lacecaps, with flattened heads. Acidic soil forces lilac flowers; alkaline promotes pink (whites stay white). Grow in a sheltered position.
    Height: up to 5 feet
    Spread: up to 6 feet
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • Fragrant and Colorful Lavender

    Lavandula

    Shrubby, scented lavender attracts butterflies and bees. L. angustifolia has gray-green leaves, 'Hidcote' is more silvery with purple flowers, while 'Loddon Pink' is pale pink. French lavender, L. stoechas, has dark purple petals like rabbit’s ears.
    Height: up to 3 feet
    Spread: up to 3 feet
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Flowering Tobacco Plant Presents Pretty Purple Palette

    Nicotiana alata

    A tobacco plant grown for its pink, greenish yellow, white, and purple summer flowers with evening scent. It has large, distinctive leaves. Give it a prominent position as it comes into flower, and grow from seed every year in spring.
    Height: up to 36 inches
    Spread: 12 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that need protection from frost over winter
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Mock Orange White Blooms

    Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile'

    One of the best-scented midsummer shrubs, with a rich aroma of vanilla and bubblegum. Give it a sunny, sheltered spot and a large pot for plenty of root and top growth. Water freely in summer; fertilize monthly. Prune to a new bud after flowering.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: up to 6 feet
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

  • The New Zealand Flax Provides A Garden Focal Plant

    Phormium 'Sundowner'

    Grown for its striking shape, 'Sundowner' has stiffly upright, bronze-green leaves with pinkish edges: a good choice in architectural schemes. Yellow-green flowers appear in summer, high above the foliage. Well-drained soil is vital.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Oriental Arborvitae as a Hedge

    Platycladus orientalis 'Aurea Nana'

    A rounded mini-conifer with flat sprays of light yellow-green leaves in winter, followed by much brighter yellowish new leaves in spring, which hold their color well until fall. A good architectural pot plant.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Wild China Rose

    Rosa x odorata 'Mutabilis'

    A beautiful shrubby rose with a mass of pinkish red new stems and leaves in spring, followed by summer-long flower clusters. Flowers open buff-yellow, turning pink and pale crimson before falling, giving a mixed tapestry. Prune by half in late winter.
    Height: 36 inches
    Spread: 36 inches
    Hardiness: Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Blue Salvia Features Stems Loaded with Blooms

    Salvia x sylvestris

    One of a trio of salvias — with S. x superba and S. nemorosa — that make extremely attractive rounded bushes. Spikes poke up above the foliage with clustered, pale blue flowers with a hint of pink through early summer. 'Rose Queen' is soft pink.
    Height: 24 inches
    Spread: 9 inches
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun

  • Japonica Winter Color

    Skimmia japonica 'Rubella'

    It stands out in winter with its clusters of tiny, reddish brown buds—set above dark green leaves—on red stalks. White flowers open from mid-spring, and females will have berries if you plant this male close to them. Trim lightly for shape after flowering.
    Height: 4 feet
    Spread: 4 feet
    Hardiness: Full hardy plants
    Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
    Sun Preference: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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