Go Wild with Exotic Container Gardens

Plant a stunning tropical garden for your patio or small garden space with these creative ideas.
Patio Container Overflows with Colorful Exotics

Patio Container Overflows with Colorful Exotics

Tropical plants fill a patio container featuring exotic colorful blooms and interesting foliages.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

A themed planting of subtropical species in a large pot will look dramatic and exotic until the first frost. Choose a mix of bold foliage and flowers, and try to use a limited palette of “hot colors” to tie in with the terra-cotta pot. Arrange the larger plants toward the center and back. The scheme will look most effective against a neutral background, where the textures and colors of the plants can be more easily appreciated.

Choosing a Container

Containers for subtropical plants should be a square terra-cotta pot or a similar-sized round one that his approximately 24 x 24 inches (60 x 60 cm).  Use good-quality, multipurpose potting mix and keep plants in a sheltered, sunny position.

Types of Subtropical Plants

  • Canna ‘Musifolia’ 
  • Begonia fuchsioides 
  • Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Star of the East’ 
  • Pelargonium tomentosum 
  • Isoplexis canariensis 
  • Canna (orange hybrid) 

Planting and Aftercare

Arrange the plants carefully in their pots before planting them to see how they will look in their final positions. The scented foliage of the pelargonium is best used spilling over the pot’s edge. Place plenty of crocks in the base of the container before pouring in the potting mix. After planting, water well and keep in a greenhouse or cool, light area indoors before placing the pot outside once any danger of frost has passed. Feed the plants regularly during the summer and make sure the soil is kept moist. Deadhead the canna as the blooms fade to encourage further flowers. In fall, before the first frost, bring the pot under cover. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

Define Your Outdoor Space With a Garden Fence

Discover the materials and design that will work best for your garden boundary, whether it is a fence, wall or hedge.

Grow Variety by Container Gardening

While your garden isn't always optimal for growing certain plants, containers can be an ideal place for different species to thrive.

Create a Container Garden Design

Incorporate varied shapes and materials when planning your garden.

Old-World Style Container Gardens

Create classic, rustic charm with these traditional bowls and urns in natural materials.

Creating Mix-and-Match Container Gardens

Opposites certainly attract in these container gardens that pair together a wide range of plants.

Less Is More: Small Space Gardening

Even miniscule backyards, rooftops and balconies can be transformed into relaxing, inviting outdoor living rooms.

How to Grow an Organic Container Garden

Tips for nurturing healthy plants and flowers the organic way.

How to Make a Container Water Garden

To grace an outdoor setting, a table or even an office, create a pond-in-a-pot with these simple step-by-step instructions.

10 Clever Container Gardens We Love From Joanna Gaines

Let Joanna help you channel your inner gardener.