Once you’ve built your pergola or verandah, you’ll be bursting with impatience to personalise it. Adding those little, unique extras is what makes your outdoor space your own.
Your verandah, pergola or porch is your little outdoor room, so to begin decorating that space, it only makes sense to turn first to potted plants.
Growing potted plants on your pergola isn’t like throwing some shrubs into the garden and letting them run wild. Your flora may have access to little or no sun and even less rain (oh yes, you’ll certainly be in charge of the watering).
So what are the best potted plants to decorate your pergola, verandah or porch? We’ve compiled a list, taking into consideration your outdoor needs, the space you have to play with, the seasons, and the weather. Here’s what we came up with:
1. Hanging Plants
Your pergola or verandah gives you greater room to play. You don’t want to take up too much of that space with planter boxes and the like. Now, you can hang pots from the rafters and position beautiful flowing plants at eye level (Australia’s native Diuris or Donkey Orchid is a great all-rounder).
Hanging plants are one of the best things about having a pergola or verandah. Dress up your outdoor living area with plants that bloom colourful flowers, such as fuchsias, impatiens (great for the shade!), petunias (if you have some sun to spare) and geraniums.
It’s likely that you’ll have a lot of shaded space on your pergola, which may be hard to adorn with sun-loving plants. Thankfully, ferns and palms adore shady, moist and humid conditions. And that means they often thrive in darker spots.
Ferns and palms provide luscious and plentiful green foliage to freshen up your outdoor space. Plus they can grow to a fuller size, which makes them ideal for a larger outdoor area.
Topiaries are a pretty historical gardening practice of clipping the foliage and twigs of trees so that you have well-manicured shapes. Neat topiaries look great either side of doors and windows, their clipped appearance creating an uncluttered but effective look.
Dwarf fruit trees are also great to have on your pergola. The fruit they bear offer tangy fragrances and if you’re feeling peckish while reading a book in your outdoor space, you need only pluck off a fresh orange from the tree beside you. Citrus trees work particularly well in pots, although they need full exposure to the sun. Figs and olives also work well, although figs will need to be pruned frequently.
You’ve finally got the posts and poles, so it’s time to start growing some climbers! Climbers are a great way to adorn the sometimes drab columns that hold up your verandah or pergola – or you can erect a trellis between posts and train plants up that. You can plant climbers in the ground or in containers beside the post or trellis you want it to climb.
Honeysuckle and jasmine are fantastic climbers. Clematis is easy to grow and relatively lightweight. Wisteria and bougainvillea are also popular choices, although both need a bit more support and maintenance. Bougainvilleas are particularly resilient plants that offer colourful flowers and evergreen foliage.
Of course, sometimes just a collection of simple potted flowers can make a big impact on your pergola. You can group them all in one large pot, or create a varied cluster of pots with different species in each one.
Shade-loving impatiens are great for pergola decorations. Camellias, azaleas and begonias are also great choices.
Summer is the best time to spend under your pergola or verandah – until the mosquitoes start pestering you. And while you can douse your skin and clothes in mosquito repellent, there are better (not to mention cheaper and more environmentally-friendly) ways of keeping the mozzies away, with gifts from Mother Nature…
There are plenty of plants out there that naturally repel those pesky feasters. Simply pop them in a pot and place them around the areas you’re most likely to spend time around on a hot summer’s day.
Some of the best natural mosquito-repelling plants include citronella, lemon eucalyptus, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, geraniums, verbena, and lavender.
As with fruit trees and natural mozzie repellents, it’s worthwhile decorating your pergola or verandah with pot plants that will yield more than one use. For multipurpose plants, you need look no further than herbs.
Herbs can provide wonderful, relaxing fragrances on your pergola, can be clipped and added to recipes, and can look great too.
Indispensable herbs to furnish your pergola include mint, basil, coriander, parsley, and chives.
Succulents, with leaves that act like spongey water storage units, are ideal for your pergola or verandah. They require very little work, sun, or water. They also have a striking, ornamental appearance.
Agave and bromeliads are popular and easy-to-grow succulents that have an interesting appearance and attractive flowers.
What happens if you struggle to keep pot plants flourishing under shelter? If you just don’t have the green thumb, that shouldn’t mean your verandah or pergola must stay bare.
Whether you have thriving garden beds or reliable florists nearby, you can always use cuttings of fresh blooms to place in vases around your outdoor space. It will give your verandah or pergola a lived-in, cottage feel that’s sure to make you feel at home.
Ready to Renovate?
Make the most of your new pergola with our tips, advice and inspiration brought to you by Australian Outdoor Living: