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Tropical Flowers for Summer Decks and Patios

It’s summertime on the East End and decks and patios are setting up for outdoor living and entertaining. Local nurseries and garden centers stock lots of great plants for your outdoor space. Tropical plants enhance our outdoor spaces, filling them with color, and some are wonderfully fragrant, too. Watering is important for plants in outdoor living spaces, and many need watering daily or every few days, depending on the size of the pot they’re in. If you have plants in hanging baskets, put your hand under the basket and lift up gently to feel if the pot has weight. If it feels too light, it’s time to water. For plants in large pots or tubs, poke your finger a few inches into the soil; if it feels dry, give the plants a drink. To keep your plants blooming all summer long, clip off faded flowers so the plants keep producing more blossoms. 

Photo: Kagin Cargi/Unsplash

Potted trees and treelike plants bring height and refreshing greenery to the scene – there are ficus trees and more exotic options like hibiscus with its big flowers in warm shades of orange, red, pink, peach, yellow and white.

Here are some great plants to consider for your outdoor living spaces this year.

Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia) has woody branching stems and large trumpet flowers in shades of yellow or apricot orange. On a tripod or trellis you can have allamanda, which has yellow blooms. For a spot that’s bright but not in full sun all day, how about a potted palm? Mandevilla is another great plant for a tripod or trellis, with large flowers in white or pink.

Dahlias are a great option for pots and planters – give them sun and clip off old flowers when they fade and the plants will give you loads of flowers in reds, oranges, yellows and pinks all summer long. 

Jasmines in hanging baskets bring their intoxicating fragrance to the summer scene, as do lilies and night-blooming moonflower (a relative of the day-blooming morning glory). Passionflowers are another vining plant with beautiful, intricate blossoms that some local nurseries have available in summer.

Photo: tab62/Shutterstock

In a shady spot you can use a potted palm or perhaps a philodendron vine trained on a moss-covered frame or upright slab of bark as a centerpiece. Around that tall central plant place mid-height plants with big leaves, such as elephant’s ear, or plants we usually see as houseplants, like Chinese evergreen or dieffenbachia.

Finish the pot with vining plants to spill over the edges – sweet potato vine (Ipomoea) with leaves of green or deep purple-black.

Above all, enjoy your outdoor space this summer!