Colour Your Pergola with these Shade-Loving Plants

With plenty of beautiful ways to decorate your verandah or pergola from unique furniture to stylish lighting, your outdoor living spaces can always have a design edge with a bit of customisation. But bringing a bit of nature into your undercover area can be tricky, with a lack of sun and no access to rain preventing the longevity of many plants.

To help you get your verandah and pergola plants right, here’s a short list of a few of our favourite shade-loving plants that will last the distance in your sheltered areas, as well as a few simple tips for keeping those plants happy and healthy! If you’re feeling a little patriotic use our Australian native plants guide for inspiration.



Azaleas are popular in Australia, with their love of shade and long flowering time making them the perfect addition to your verandah or patio. They have a shrublike shape that sits as comfortably in a pot as it does in the ground.

But what we love most about these bloomers is their stunning colour, available in violent orange, vibrant pink, purples and much more. That gives you the variety to match your plant colours to the surrounding décor. Their small buds bloom in spring. Check out Ozbreed for a large selection of heat and drought tolerant Azaleas.

Dwarf Tree Fern

tree fern

Dwarf tree ferns are a beautiful evergreen addition to your patio or verandah, with their large fronds bringing a touch of freshness to any area.

Although they are called “dwarf”, this is one of the larger options for verandah plants, great for a huge outdoor space. They look fab in a large pot and only need a small amount of filtered light. But do keep an eye on the fronds: they tend to yellow as they age and will need pruning and consistent watering throughout the year.


Despite their gentle look and soft colour, camellias are a hardy plant that will suit most environments around Australia. They don’t mind the frost of cold winter mornings in the south, but are just as happy in the heat, as long as they’re in the shade and get a good drink.

Camellias have a large striking flower with soft petals. These are one of Australia’s favourite plants and are perfect for your verandah or pergola!


Hibiscuses are a unique option for your verandah or patio pots, with their vibrant varieties perfect to mix and match for a colourful arrangement. Their trumpet shape and long stem give them a tropical edge.

But the very best thing about these beauts? They attract butterflies so you’ll have some beautiful light-winged visitors over the warmer months!

Weeping Fig

There’s nothing sad about the weeping fig (also known as a ficus), as these native trees make the perfect pot plant. These are one of the most fashionable plants in Australia, and their durability means they need little maintenance, with a moderate amount of watering in summer, and barely any at all necessary in winter. Just what we like!

weeping figPhoto credit: Mauricio Mercandente via Flickr


Hydrangeas are full, gentle, flowering plants which come in lovely shades of pink, purple and blue. The common Aussie variety for pot plants are small shrubs which can grow to over a metre tall, but you can also find climbing varieties which can reach up to 30 metres! Train them up your verandah posts and you’ll add an amazing dash of colour all the way up to the roof.

They do need annual pruning, but are happy shade dwellers.


moses in the cradle

This is a plant of many names! Moses-in-the-cradle, boat lily, Rhoeo discolour, cradle lily and oyster plant, to name but a few. This shrub is an original beauty, rich with multi-coloured green and purple leaves. They don’t flower, but we think the colour in their leaves more than makes up for lack of a blossom – especially in a great modern pot plant.

Moses-in-the-cradle can be grown almost anywhere in the world, and are best suited to a slightly warmer climate.

Tiger Grass

The perfect addition for an Asian-styled garden, Tiger Grass is generally used as a landscaping plant, covering fences or creating privacy screens, but it also grows well in pots. Their large leaves and bamboo-like trunks are great to add some modern style with an Asian twist to your space.

In a pot, Tiger Grass will need plenty of watering over the warmer months. But don’t bother if you live somewhere that sees plenty of heavy frost or snow over winter-these are heat-lovers.

Quick tips for looking after your pot plants

Having a few gorgeous plants to add a splash of colour to your verandah is well worth the effort. But there can be some effort involved – and having sad-looking, neglected plants can look just as bad as having no colour at all! So here are some quick tips to keep your outdoor space looking happy – and keeping you happy too.

  • When moving your pot plant from its original pot into a new one, always choose a slightly larger pots as the roots will continue to grow and expand.
  • Pots with several drainage holes around the edges are best for most pot plants.
  • Talk to your local nurser about the right type of potting mix for each plant. Don’t just take soil from the rest of your garden as it can spread weeds, insects or fungal diseases.
  • Keep the tags that comes with each plant so you know the exact care instructions for each species to keep them happy and healthy.

Looking for more inspiration?

At Australian Outdoor Living we love a bit of outdoors décor, so we’ve put together some of our own expertise to help you make your backyard live up to its potential. Check out our other resources:

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