Plant of the Month: Beautyberry
November 17, 2020
We love outdoor living here in the Florida sunshine! And, if you're reading this blog, the chances are that you do too.
Whether you're heading to the patio to read a book in peace, or inviting some friends over for an evening of backyard entertaining, you want your outdoor space to be welcoming and beautiful.
One of the best ways to achieve that is to grow a selection of potted plants.
There are lots of advantages to growing plants in pots and containers. For new gardeners, it can be a great way to get started. Potted plants are an excellent addition to any deck, patio, balcony or even windowsill, so even if you don't have the space - or the time - to maintain a big garden, you can still enjoy the benefits of plants.
Lantana is a small evergreen shrub that comes in a beautiful range of colors. It's a classic low-maintenance plant: all it needs is a sunny spot and, when planted in a container, regular watering. Lantana's clusters of gorgeous flowers will add a pop of color to any deck or patio.
Make sure to plant your lantana in a container with drainage holes. You can also improve drainage by adding some sand to the bottom of your container.
Marigolds, with their bronzed-orange blooms, are a favorite container plant to brighten up your outdoor spaces. They're easy to look after and are even said to repel insects, making them an excellent pick for your patio garden.
These drought-tolerant plants need plenty of direct sunlight. They do best in well-drained soil, so make sure to include drainage holes in your plant pot. It's important not to crowd marigolds, so just plant one if you're using a pot; if you're sowing multiple seeds in a container, give them several inches of space.
Bamboo is a popular choice for a deck or patio as it makes an ideal privacy plant. You may want to plant it in the soil alongside the edge of your outdoor area where the dense foliage will shade you from the sun.
If planting in the ground is not an option, bamboo can also be grown in a container. You'll need to make sure you choose something suitable: it has to be large enough for the bamboo to take root, and you want a stable shape so it won't blow over in the wind. Wilson Bros has some great tips for growing bamboo in a container.
Bird of Paradise, with its showy blooms that look like exotic birds, is a striking plant idea for a deck garden, patio or balcony. In Central and Southern Florida, bird of paradise is suited to the climate and can be grown outdoors.
In cooler climates, it needs protecting from the cold, as the recognizable blooms can be damaged if exposed to below-freezing temperatures. Growing these beautiful plants in pots can be a great idea, as that makes it easy to move them indoors for a short time when cold temperatures strike.
The leaves of bird of paradise can be damaged by direct sunlight, so choose a shady spot on your balcony or patio when you add this beauty to your outdoor space.
Although many cacti prefer dry climates, there are several species which can thrive in Florida's more humid conditions. Prickly pear, with its bright blooms, is a popular variety.
Container growing is ideal for Christmas cactus, which also sports beautiful blooms, but needs to be brought indoors during cooler temperatures.
Cacti require plenty of full sun and minimal watering with long breaks in between. They make an excellent choice for low maintenance deck plants.
As long as they are planted at the right time of year, after the frost has finished but before temperatures get too hot in the summer, cherry tomatoes make excellent outdoor patio plants.
These edible plants are easy to grow and, once they are established, you'll be able to enjoy the delicious fruits throughout Florida's hot summer. The green leaves and bright red fruits, along with the pleasant scent, make cherry tomatoes an excellent patio plant.
Cherry tomatoes require plenty of sun for four to six hours each day and need frequent watering.
The majority of culinary herbs will grow happily in containers or plant pots and, with their variety of leaf shapes and range of distinctive scents, help to make your deck or patio a pleasant space.
Many species of herbs have a rapid rate of growth, so they can be ideal plants for growing with children as they give a speedy return. Their beautiful leaves are another draw for little ones, who can enjoy smelling and even tasting the herbs.
Some varieties to start with include rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and mint. Go for whatever you think you'll use in the kitchen!
The best tip for taking good care of patio plants and keeping them healthy is to do your research. Make sure you find out about the variety you plan to grow so that you can choose a shady spot or place it in full sun as required.
Remember to pay attention to the weather, too. If you put your plants outside as soon as the temperature starts to rise, you may need to watch for impending frost, or simply bring your plant pot inside at night until temperatures become more consistent.
As with all plants, water as required: either too much or too little can cause problems. With container plants it's particularly important to ensure good drainage so the roots don't end up sitting in waterlogged soil. Choose a plant pot with drainage holes in the bottom and, if necessary, add a layer of sand to improve drainage.
Whether you want to start out with one or two outdoor plants, or fill your deck or balcony with a wide range of colorful foliage and fragrant flowers, we hope that this article has given you some great ideas to help you choose the perfect plants for your sunny patio garden.
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