Fall is the time to make your home feel more cozy...
No matter where you live, you want to make the most of the good weather days. Spending time on the patio is even more relaxing when you add seasonal color and interest with container plants, window boxes, or beds of annuals, perennials, and shrubs. And since many plants attract tons of pollinators, you’ll enjoy watching butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds flit about while you drink your morning coffee or sip your iced tea.
To find the right plant for your conditions, observe how much direct sunlight your patio gets at different times of day: Full sun means more than six hours and part sun is about half that. Full shade means your patio gets less than an hour or two of sun, or only a little morning sun. No matter how much you fall in love with a plant, consider its needs first before buying it: Shade lovers can’t handle the heat, and sun lovers never perform well in the shade. Before buying shrubs and perennials, which return every year, check your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here) to determine if the plant can survive winter in your region. See our favorite annuals, perennials, and shrubs to add pizzazz to any patio.
Mandevilla is a gorgeous flowering vine that requires a trellis. It blooms all season long with little care, and you can bring it in for winter in cold climates when the nighttime temperatures go below 50 degrees. Full disclosure: It is a little messy indoors, because it will drop leaves and flowers with the lower light levels. It likes full sun, though it benefits from afternoon shade in the hottest climates.
There’s a reason these sturdy annuals have been popular for decades: They thrive on neglect! Marigolds come in bright colors, including the classic oranges and yellows, but new varieties are available in creamy white. They take the heat, last until a hard freeze, and look good in beds or containers without any effort from you. Give them full sun.
Lavender has beautiful purple spikes and silvery foliage; it’s drought-tolerant once established. Give it full sun, and plant a variety that will survive in your hardiness zone so it returns next year. Edge your patio with it, or plant it near seating areas so you can enjoy its classic scent.
Got shade? Fuchsia thrives in full shade. This stunning annual comes in saturated tones of red, purple, and pink. It looks best in containers or baskets. Hummingbirds adore this plant, too. This plant is best purchased at a local nursery, as its delicate nature makes it difficult to ship intact or germinate from seed.
5 Ornamental Grasses
Look for short varieties to add architectural interest to pots; tall types offer great screening if used to edge the patio in ground or in pots. Most are perennial, but read the tag to be sure. Most need full sun.
This stunning shrub comes in many different sizes and types. Hydrangea’s blooms appear in early to mid-summer and last until a hard freeze, and they’re extremely easy to dry for floral arrangements or wreaths. Most types need some sun to flower best, but they like afternoon shade in the hottest climates. Make sure to plant one that is suited to your hardiness zone.
Blue, purple, or white lobelia looks wonderful in baskets or mixed containers. This annual needs mostly shade, though it will tolerate a little morning sun. It blooms best in cool weather, so if it starts to look ragged in mid-summer, trim it back and it should rebound in fall.