Perennial in pots


Which deep green or purple foliage perennial would be feasible, perhaps thrive happily, in pots at the front door?
Thank you.


In order to best help you with plant suggestions, we’d appreciate if you would send us another message that contains additional details.  For example, in order to select perennials that will suit your needs and survive on your front steps:

  • Which direction does the door face? Does the spot receive full sun or is it shaded?  Is it sheltered or exposed to wind?
  • Do you want the container to be planted with one plant variety? Two or more?
  • Do you want a plant that flowers, or just has showy foliage? Most perennials have relatively short bloom periods, so for most of the season, the foliage would be the star.  If you don’t want a blooming plant, would small evergreens be an option?  What about grasses?
  • Do you want something that’s easy to care for? For example, if you plan to be away from home for some time, drought-tolerant plants may be the best choice, as opposed to those that will take more time to care for.

I’d suggest that you walk around your neighbourhood and take photos of containers that you find attractive. Many of the container plants will be annuals, but an expert at your local nursery might be able to suggest perennial alternatives with a similar look, that could fit the bill for you.

You may also get some ideas from a previous post, Ask a Master Gardener Perennials for a container.

Consider too that perennials in pots do require some care.  For example, as the plants grow in size each year, at some point they will need to be divided or transplanted into larger containers.  As well, depending on the plant(s) you select and the container size and material, the pots may need to be moved to a more sheltered area during the winter.

When selecting a plant, think about how large (height, width) it will grow, whether it will tolerate the sun/shade in the spots the containers will be placed, ease of care, etc.  For example, a couple of lovely plants come to mind (but there are so many others!):
  • Hostas – leaves come in various shades of green – from dark to lime green, and several varieties are variegated. Hostas generally prefer partial to full shade, but some tolerate sun well. Here are some examples, from The Spruce – 12 colorful hosta types for your garden.
  • Heuchera – several have deep purple, almost black foliage. These are not tall plants, and flowers are quite insignificant.  They might be better suited as one among a few other taller plants in a container.  Heuchera are easy to care for and can be grown in a variety of light conditions ranging from full sun to shade. See North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’.

All the best in selecting the perfect plants for your containers!  Remember too that if you tire of the plants, you can always plant them in your garden, and find new ones to fill the pots.

August 31 2021