So far we've had a very kind winter. Our "average" last day of a dreaded frost is February 15th. Now that doesn't mean we won't get a freeze after then it's just the average.
Looking at the long range forecast, The MacCubbin Household has decided to take the chance. We're ready to "plant decorate" our pool and patio areas. So we've come up with a list......It's a little "his and her" list. We choose plants to give you a little color and won't be messy and cause you to be sweeping up spent flowers or dropping leaves all the time.
To add a few bowls of color to a sunny area plant a few "foliage" annuals like alternanthera or sweetpotato. These would give you good leaf color. For flowers to add to that bowl add marigolds, zinnias, pansies and dianthus. They are all good choices.
Pentas are a favorite of ours and they are very giving plants....but... it's a "plant on the edge" for patio placement as it will drop a few spent flowers. They will provide a very nice assortment of color for your patio. Most will grow to about 1 ft. tall and there are dwarf varieties also. Be sure to place them by a doorway so you can easily sweep those spent flowers outside.
For some shrub greenery in mostly sunny areas try crotons.....they will give you an explosion of color anywhere you put them even in sun or shade. They are available in just about every leaf shape, color and leaf design....even polka dotted. We actually have quite a collection on our patio and they demand little care. Crotons can be sort of addictive.....every time you see a new variety. You want to own it. They also come in many heights and widths but all will look nice on your patio.
Scheffleras and Ficus are good shrubs for the patio. They come in either dwarf or regular varieties. They prefer a part shady area to look their best. Be ready to repot them into larger pots as the years go by.
In shade areas try caladiums.....these plants are fantastic! Place a few bulbs in a large pot and they will give you color for almost 9 months.....in the fall they will die back. That is what they normally do. But don't toss them....it's just their time for a little winter rest. Place them in a protected area and in the spring they will magically reappear. We have a pot of them that we've had for years and it still works it's magic on our patio every year.
Spathiphyllums will always look well.....they are available in just green or variegated leaves. White flowers will decorate them almost constantly. They'll do very well in a pretty pot.....3 pots in a cluster will be a show stopper in a shady corner.
If you have an area for hanging plants in a shady area......try a few orchids. Some varieties can stay in bloom for months and possibly up to a year with minimal care. They are addicting......so be prepared. Nothing looks as tropical or stunning as a few hanging orchids on your patio.
Pothos can also be quite attractive. But.....don't let the pothos vines grow and touch your patio or it will root down into it. And it's a little difficult to clean up. Keep its long vines trimmed to a leaf joint and the stems pruned at different heights so it will look natural.
Finally.....all the above will need occasional fertilizing and water to do their very best for your patio area.