5 Low-Maintenance Outdoor Plants Perfect for Decks, Patios, and Balconies
These outdoor plants are lovely and they're easy to take care of, even if you don't have a green thumb.
This month, we worked with designers and professional organizers to transform a four-bedroom penthouse in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. On the apartment's amazing terrace (complete with panoramic views of Brooklyn and Manhattan), lush Robellini palms make the expansive area feel more secluded and private.
No matter where you live, you can also create the outdoor space of your dreams using low-maintenance plants that won't need hours of care. For easy-to-grow recommendations, we asked Justin Hancock, the garden expert at Costa Farms, for his five favorite outdoor plant picks. Here are the varieties that will make your outdoor area spectacular for the least amount of work possible.
"Pansies are easy-growing, colorful, and a lot more durable than they look," says Hancock. They like cooler weather, so they hold up best in fall and spring, but still survive frosty temperatures to continue blooming—even in landscapes and planters. House them in the sun or part shade to help them flourish. Since they come in a rainbow of colors, you can customize your patio and many are pleasantly fragrant.
To buy: 12 Pack Pansies, $11; lowes.com.
This rugged annual is amazingly tolerant to the elements. You can grow it in sun or shade, it powers through dry soil, and it looks good, even as temperatures dip below freezing. This cooler-season plant is best for fall, winter, or early spring — it typically won't last through scorching hot summers. A host of varieties are available, including types with stunning burgundy foliage to add texture and color to your patio.
To buy: Outside Ornamental Kale, $6; amazon.com.
One of the finest ornamental grasses around, this North American native sports blue-green foliage in spring and summer. Come autumn, the plant turns a delightful shade of burgundy purple. Plus, it’s heat and drought tolerant, loves hot, sunny spots, and lives through temperatures as low as -25F.
To buy: Little Bluestem, $27; homedepot.com.
If you’re looking for color, it’s hard to beat croton. Plant this bold, tropical shrub in spring, summer, or fall for best results. It will display green leaves heavily marked with purple, red, orange, gold, or yellow (depending on variety). It’s eye-catching décor for outdoor spaces in the warm days of fall, then makes for a showstopping houseplant if you have a bright spot to keep it happy.
To buy: Croton Gold Dust, $12; thesill.com.
Grown for their good looks rather than for consumption, these no-fuss beauties pack in color with their bold, bright fruits. There are a wealth of varieties, with colorful fruits in shades of red, orange, pink, purple, yellow, gold, and white. Plant them in spring, summer, or fall, and they'll add a fabulous pop of color to gardens and pots.
To buy: Ornamental Pepper fire mix seeds, $5; etsy.com.