Table of Contents
- 1. Bay Tree
- 2. Lily of the Nile
- 3. Spindle ‘Emerald and Gold’
- 4. Japanese Skimmia ‘Rubella’
- 5. Spring Flowering Bulbs
- 6. Common Lilac ‘Beauty of Moscow’
- 7. Peruvian Lily
- 8. Weeping Bottlebrush
- 9. Hostas
- 10. Golden Creeping Jenny
- 11. Shrubby Veronica ‘High Voltage’
- 12. Dwarf Buddleia ‘Buzz’
- 13. Cherry Trees
- 14. Fuji Cherry
- 15. Mallow Bush ‘Barnsley Baby’
- 16. Ivy
- 17. Needle Palm ‘Golden Sword’
- 18. Green Mountain Boxwood
- 19. Japanese Andromeda
- 20. Heart-Leaf Bergenia
- 21. Emerald Arborvita
- 22. Red Tip Photinia
- 23. Variegated Red Twig Dogwood
- 24. Coral Bells
- 25. Flaky Juniper ‘Blue Star’
- 26. Two-Row Stonecrop ‘Fuldaglut’
- 27. Coleus
- 28. Wisteria
- 29. Holly
- 30. Rose ‘Bianco’
- 31. Rose ‘Wildeve’
- 32. Lavender
- 33. Hardy Geranium
- 34. Wildflowers
- 35. Hydrangeas
- 36. African Daisies
- 37. Lobelia
- 38. Petunias
- 39. Vervain
- 40. Garden Pansy
- 41. Love in a Mist
- 42. Nasturtium
- 43. Succulents
- 44. Grasses
- 45. Sunflowers
- 46. Cineraria
- 47. Catnip
- 48. Blue Spurflower
- 49. Camellias
Don’t trust yourself with temperamental plants? I can sympathise. You start out so well, but slowly life gets in the way, and your plants take a backseat.
You need low maintenance, hardy plants. These prosper even in the harshest conditions. You can forget to water them for a month, and they’ll still shine. And keeping plants in pots stops them from spreading uncontrollably, saving you even more hard work!
Here’s a list of hardy plants for outdoor pots.
1. Bay Tree
Botanical name: Laurus nobilis
Bay Tree bounces back from a chop or trim and looks stunning as a tiny topiary. It’ll withstand even the dreariest winters, so you can be confident it’ll still be going strong come spring.
And of course, we can’t forget its culinary uses! The leaves can be plucked straight from the shrub, adding flavour to many dishes.
2. Lily of the Nile
Botanical name: Agapanthus
Lily of the Nile – what a plant! It produces tall, thin stems with tips smothered with miniature blue flowers. It’s perfect for a patio pot; the containment stops energy from being expended into the roots, allowing more oomph to be put into its beautiful blooms.
3. Spindle ‘Emerald and Gold’
Botanical name: Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald and Gold’
Spindle ‘Emerald and Gold’ displays evergreen foliage of emerald green mixed with gold. It stands tall and proud, growing over 1.5ft even in a container. But don’t worry! You can trim it to whatever height you prefer.
4. Japanese Skimmia ‘Rubella’
Botanical name: Skimmia Japonica ‘Rubella
Japanese Skimmia ‘Rubella’ is a compact shrub that looks good even in the smallest gardens. Its luscious green leaves stick around all year and are joined by rich red flowers in spring.
This plant isn’t fussy, so you can place it just about anywhere. But it’s most at home in well-drained soil and full or partial shade.
5. Spring Flowering Bulbs
Spring-flowering bulbs are a must-have in a British garden. They’re the first signs of life after the cold UK winters, reminding you that brighter and warmer days are coming.
Here are some of the best hardy spring-flowering bulbs you can plant in pots:
- Lily of the Nile
Check on the packet when these bulbs should be sown, as it’ll be different for each!
6. Common Lilac ‘Beauty of Moscow’
Botanical name: Syringa vulgaris
Beauty of Moscow is a dwarf variety of the Common Lilac. Its flowers appear in spring and continue to shine until late summer. And when you think the blooms are gone, they come back to surprise you with a second flush!
Their pleasant pink buds open up to display pure white flowers that are intensely fragrant.
7. Peruvian Lily
Botanical name: Alstroemeria
Looking for a multifunctional plant? Peruvian Lily looks great in your garden, but you can also admire it indoors, in a dried flower display.
‘Summer Breeze’ is one of the most sought-after varieties – it sports dark green leaves that make the perfect backdrop for its bold yellow and orange blooms.
8. Weeping Bottlebrush
Botanical name: Callistemon viminalis
Weeping Bottlebrush offers something weird and wacky. Its distinctive blood-red blossoms look startlingly like bottlebrushes. These weep downwards and provide a vital food source for hummingbirds and birds.
Weeping Bottlebrush grows to 30ft tall, so it’s a worthy choice for a natural privacy screen.
Hostas are exceptionally hardy plants, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Choose ‘Cracker Crumbs’ for its fast growth rate and lime-green leaves, or ‘El Niño’ for a Hosta that’s more intense and mysterious. ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ speaks for itself, right?
Other intriguing varieties include:
- One Man’s Treasure
- Hanky Panky
- Golden Tiara
- Blue Mouse Ears
Take your pick!
10. Golden Creeping Jenny
Botanical name: Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’
Place Golden Creeping Jenny around the outside edge of a pot, and it’ll pour out like a waterfall towards the ground. It has golden-green circular leaves and can withstand temperatures as low as 15°C.
It’s a water-loving plant, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be positioned in full sun. Just keep its soil damp!
11. Shrubby Veronica ‘High Voltage’
Botanical name: Hebe ‘High Voltage’
If you’re expecting an electric shock from this Shrubby Veronica variety, you’ll be disappointed. However, with this plant’s white and lilac flowers that protrude from long, spiked stems, you’ll feel electric!
This plant can cope with the most demanding conditions, including salty soil and winds. So if you live in a coastal area, this one’s for you!
12. Dwarf Buddleia ‘Buzz’
Botanical name: Buddleja ‘Buzz’
You’ll see Buddleia plants in UK gardens all across the country. We love them for their attractive appearance and tendency to draw a wide variety of wildlife.
Dwarf Buddleia ‘Buzz’ packs a colour punch. Choose from 3 varieties: ‘Sky Blue’, ‘Buzz Magenta’ and ‘Buzz Ivory’. Whatever type you choose, your Buddleia plant will allure butterfly species in their many.
13. Cherry Trees
Botanical name: Prunus
Cherry trees aren’t just for orchards. Ornamental cherries provide a tantalising display of blossom followed by delectable fruit that is a welcoming sight on a patio or driveway.
Why not give the dwarfed ‘Romeo’ or ‘Juliet’ variety a go, or try them together for a captivating love affair?
14. Fuji Cherry
Botanical name: Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’
This particular ornamental Cherry variety deserves the limelight. It’s a tiny Cherry tree, not exceeding 7ft in height in its 20 year lifetime. In March, Fuji Cherry’s branches are inundated with blossom, crisp white with crimson-pink middles.
When the new foliage appears, it has a slight bronze hue, which will turn a fiery orange in autumn.
15. Mallow Bush ‘Barnsley Baby’
Botanical name: Lavatera × clementii ‘Barnsley Baby’
Mallow Bush ‘Barnsley Baby’ is a favourite for cottage gardens, much like the original variety. Its pinky-white blooms are flushed with a decorative crimson pink centre, and its colour only intensifies with age!
The flowers look similar to saucers, forming the perfect landing platform for butterflies and bees.
Botanical name: Hedera
Ivy has got a bad rep over the years. It’s so hardy that it tends to grow and grow. If you don’t contain it, it’ll soon smother your garden. But you don’t have that issue if it’s in a pot!
Place it in full sun, partial sun, or full shade – it doesn’t care! It’s resistant to disease and pests and will survive the coldest UK temperatures.
17. Needle Palm ‘Golden Sword’
Botanical name: Yucca flaccida ‘Golden Sword’
This variety of Needle Palm gains its name from its fleshy leaves. They’re sword-like in shape and boast a captivating golden stripe down their centre.
Golden Sword grows up to 5ft tall. Combine it with low-growing potted plants for a multi-levelled display.
18. Green Mountain Boxwood
Botanical name: Buxus ‘Green Mountain’
Green Mountain Boxwood retains its shape when placed in a pot, but you won’t get the same height and spread as usual. It benefits from partial shade and some shelter, as it won’t do well if exposed to violent winds.
It’ll keep its verdant green colouration throughout the whole year, even in icy winters.
19. Japanese Andromeda
Botanical name: Pieris japonica
There’s much to love about Japanese Andromeda. For starters, it’s evergreen, so you’re blessed with foliage the whole year through. Then, there are its dark red buds which open into pink flowers of various shades.
Japanese Andromeda’s branches arch, tumbling over the pot’s edge. Another lovely quality.
20. Heart-Leaf Bergenia
Botanical name: Bergenia cordifolia
Gardeners gave Heart-Leaf Bergenia its common name after its most-admired characteristic, its distinctive heart-shaped leaves. These start out as green but transform into a bold burgundy during autumn.
With spring comes Heart-Leaf Bergenia’s pink flowers, which look astonishingly similar to Hyacinths.
21. Emerald Arborvita
Botanical name: Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’
Are large outdoor hardy plants your thing? Emerald Arborvita is the best choice if you’re considering adding height to your pot. It naturally grows to 15ft tall. But don’t worry, it won’t come anywhere close to that in a container!
Emerald Arborvita is evergreen, so it’ll keep your pot looking exciting all year round.
22. Red Tip Photinia
Botanical name: Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’
Red Tip Photinia brings a bold splash of colour with its red-tipped foliage. Growing this plant in a pot is easy – just pick a container that’s frost-resistant, as Red Tip Photinia doesn’t like frosty nights.
23. Variegated Red Twig Dogwood
Botanical name: Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’
Variegated Red Twig Dogwood boasts two-toned leaves, green in the middle with creamy-coloured margins. Vivid red berries reveal themselves in winter, making this plant a hit among the local wildlife.
And let’s not forget the bark! Dogwood is renowned for its vibrant-coloured stems. This particular variety displays glorious blood-red stems that can’t be missed.
24. Coral Bells
Botanical name: Heuchera
Coral Bells is a group of low-growing plants with dainty yet colourful blooms that stick out from tall, wispy stems. These evergreen plants aren’t always green – you’ll find varieties sporting bronze and purple foliage, too.
Coral Bells are ideal for containers and are well-placed alongside other perennials.
25. Flaky Juniper ‘Blue Star’
Botanical name: Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’
It’s the steel-blue needles of Flaky Juniper ‘Blue Star’ that secure its widespread use in UK gardens. This distinct colour is a welcome change from many other plants’ dull, muted greens.
This slow-grower will reach a maximum of 3ft tall and happily sit alongside a wide variety of colours.
26. Two-Row Stonecrop ‘Fuldaglut’
Botanical name: Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut’
Two-Row Stonecrop ‘Fuldaglut’ starts with bronze-coloured foliage, turning red in the colder months. It’s a low-growing plant that quickly forms a mat across the bottom of a container.
The flowers, which show themselves in late summer, attract many pollinators.
Botanical name: Coleus spp.
Coleus is a group of plants unmatched by any other. Although it’s one of the easiest plants to grow, this isn’t what causes Coleus’ gross popularity. It’s the plant’s foliage that draws people in. Imagine nettle leaves painted in the brightest of colours.
Choose Coleus if you want to add an exotic twist to your garden or if you’re going for a rough-and-ready jungle feel.
Botanical name: Wisteria floribunda
Wisteria is a group of climbing plants that produce masses of bright flowers on drooping racemes. These plants can grow up to 60ft tall, so containing them in a pot can help to reduce this lofty height.
Place it in a pot against a wall or up a pergola, and it’ll do what it does best: climb.
Botanical name: Ilex
Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) is one of the best Holly varieties for a pot as it’s dwarfed, so it won’t outgrow its container. Holly plants will happily grow in pots if given enough sunlight. 6 hours of sun is what they need to be at their best.
30. Rose ‘Bianco’
Botanical name: Rosa ‘Bianco’
Roses also make excellent potted plants. Rose’ Bianco’ is one variety that looks super-stylish confined to a container. This patio Rose sports colossal, pompom flowers that are a crisp white.
They have a subtle fragrance; you can appreciate this to its fullest if you place the pot beside patio furniture.
31. Rose ‘Wildeve’
Botanical name: Rosa ‘Wildeve’
Another particularly hardy Rose variety is ‘Wildeve’. In contrast to the white blooms of Bianco, Wildeve’s flowers are pretty in pink with a slight hint of apricot. It’ll continue to produce these fragrant blooms from spring till the first frost.
Rain doesn’t bother Wildeve, so it can handle a UK winter!
Botanical name: Lavandula
Lavender refers to a group of flowering plants. They’re common in the UK, so you’ll likely have come into contact with them in some shape or form. Lavender’s fragrant purple flower clusters make it popular among humans and wildlife.
But not all Lavender varieties are hardy. English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) tends to be more suited to UK weather.
33. Hardy Geranium
Botanical name: Geranium bohemicum
Hardy Geranium favours soil with good drainage, but it isn’t fussy on sunlight. It will die back in autumn but resurrect in spring with fresh foliage and flowers. Hardy Geranium’s widespread use is owed to the radiant colours of its blooms.
Too often, we try to tame our gardens. Why not let them go wild? The great thing about wildflowers is that you can honour their wildness by placing them in a container while stopping them from taking over.
Try these hardy wildflower varieties in your pots:
- Snake’s Head Fritillary
- Lily of the Valley
- Pasque Flower
Either choose the individual seeds you want or opt for a hardy wildflower seed mix.
Hydrangeas are a British favourite – you’ll find them in many a UK garden. This is primarily for their flower heads, which are big, bold and colourful. Lacecap and mophead varieties are most popular because they possess Hydrangea’s characteristic mammoth flowerheads.
For containers, you’re best off going for a compact variety. These pack the Hydrangea’s usual beauty into the smallest of spaces.
36. African Daisies
Botanical name: Osteospermum spp.
African Daisies’ name says it all. It originates from Africa, and its flowers have the characteristic appearance of daisies – thin petals that open out from a central saucer. Gardeners adore African Daisies because they come in various vivid colours – pink, red, yellow, orange, purple.
Botanical name: Lobelia spp.
It’s impossible to walk past a Lobelia without looking. Their radiant blue-purple colouration almost screams at you. This is not the type of plant to get if you’re going for subtle. But if you want your potted plants to make a statement, this is your guy.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and Blue Cardinal Flower (Lobelia siphilitica) are the hardiest Lobelia varieties – they can survive the UK’s chopping and changing weather!
Botanical name: Petunia spp.
Petunias are a popular garden choice in the UK, featuring heavily in hanging baskets. The stand-out colour and trumpet shape of their flowers are most admired.
Petunia ‘Phantom’ provides shock-and-awe with velvety, dark black blooms embellished with yellow streaks. Petunia ‘Rose Vein Velvet’ is another top choice loved for its fuchsia-pink flowers.
Botanical name: Verbena
Vervain couldn’t be further from Petunias in appearance. Instead of big, flashy flowers, Vervain has clusters of minute pink-purple ones. The nectar-filled blooms are a welcome treat for pollinators.
Of those who visit Vervain, hoverflies may be the most useful, as they help control aphids. This protects other plants in your garden.
40. Garden Pansy
Botanical name: Viola x wittrockiana
Have you seen Disney’s 1951 ‘Alice in Wonderland’ animation? Whenever I see Garden Pansies, I’m taken back to the singing Pansies in this film. Pansies capture our hearts and steal our attention with their striking, face-like features and contrasting colours.
Garden Pansies come in many unique varieties and make characterful potted plants.
41. Love in a Mist
Botanical name: Nigella spp.
Love in a Mist really is as arresting as the name implies. It’s frequently chosen for cottage gardens because of its bewitching display of blooms. Depending on the variety, these are either a pale blue shade or white.
This plant has minute leaves that the blooms nestle into. This makes it look like the flowers are floating!
Botanical name: Tropaeolum
This is a group of around 80 plant species. Nasturtium has waxy, flat leaves that sit atop thin stems. Its flowers are far from inconspicuous, sporting a wide array of vibrant colours.
Chefs are as much of a fan of Nasturtiums as gardeners, as the flowers make highly decorative, edible garnish.
Plants are called ‘Succulents’ if they contain engorged, water-storage areas. That’s why they have such fleshy leaves! These plump leaves are highly distinctive; there’s no other potted plant quite like them.
Two Succulent varieties that can weather the cold are Hens and Chickens (Sempervivums) and Stonecrop (Sedum).
Grasses are excellent container plants as they provide an exciting texture and soothing sound effects. You can even create a moveable privacy screen!
The grass species I’d recommend for a pop of colour are Pheasant’s Tail Grass, Blood Grass, or Japanese Golden Grass. For something more subtle, try Hair Grass or Pampas Grass.
Botanical name: Helianthus spp.
Whenever you’re surrounded by Sunflowers, it feels like the sun is in your midst. When picking a potted Sunflower variety, you can go all out with the original, tall types like Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Or, you could try something smaller, like ‘Sunny Smile’ and ‘Sungold Dwarf’.
Botanical name: Cineraria spp.
Choose Cineraria for your most popular nighttime garden spot, as the moon reflects off the plant’s silver-grey leaves.
Cineraria is tolerant to light frost, but it will struggle on the frostiest of nights. If it survives the winter, you’ll be graced with clusters of miniature yellow blooms when spring arrives.
Botanical name: Nepeta spp.
Catnip won’t just lead your cats into submission. Its nettle-like leaves work wonders in a pot, and its profusion of purple flowers doesn’t hurt either! This mint family member can also be used as a herb in cooking or an infusion in teas.
48. Blue Spurflower
Botanical name: Plectranthus spp.
Blue Spurflower is a group of plants of various sizes and colours. Almost wild in appearance, Blue Spurflower possesses grass-green leaves and tall spikes adorned with intense blue-purple flowers.
This plant originates from South Africa but loves the shade, so place it in a shady space.
Botanical name: Camellia spp.
Camellias produce showy blooms in various colours, including red, white, and pink. These provide a striking contrast to their verdant green leaves.
Camellia varieties have different bloom times – Sasanqua Camellia blooms late autumn to winter, whereas Japanese Camellia blossoms in early spring.
Sit Back and Relax
When life ramps up a notch, gardening is the last of your worries. Neglecting temperamental plants quickly leaves to a dilapidated-looking garden.
With low maintenance outdoor hardy plants, there’s no need to stress. You’ve got all the time in the world! Easy-going potted plants make gardening a doddle. You can spend time doing other gardening activities or living your life as you see fit.