Flowering Shrubs for Pots

My Garden Life
May 11, 2022
Table of Contents
Flowering shrubs for pots are an ideal way to add color and fragrance to a smaller space. You don’t need a huge yard to enjoy beautiful garden plants. Growing flowering species in containers helps you create impact and interest even in a small space, whether that’s a deck, balcony, or just a tiny section of paved area.
Here are nine of the best flowering shrubs for pots to add color and scent to your yard, whatever its size.

Container Shrubs for Sunny Spots

You’re almost spoiled for choice when it comes to flowering plants which love the sun. But for many popular garden choices there can be too much of a good thing, and flowering levels can suffer when a plant is in strong, full sun all day long. However, the following three flowering shrubs will handle all the light you can give them to produce a stunning show of colorful blooms in a compact size.

Cape Mallow

(Anisodontea capensis)
Close-up of pink cape mallow flowering shrub, Anisodontea capensis
As a native of South Africa, the Cape Mallow is perfectly happy in full sun and produces plenty of pink blooms through the summer. Growing to a height of 3 feet (0.9 m) and a spread of 18 inches (46 cm), it’s also a conveniently compact choice for container growing on a small, sunny patio or deck.

Dwarf Lemon Bottlebrush ‘Little John’

(Callistemon viminalis)

Close-up of dwarf lemon bottlebrush 'Little John', Callistemon viminalis

Originating from Australia, the Bottlebrush thrives in warm, sunny conditions. It’s a great selection for Southern regions where it may produce blooms throughout the year. Reaching a potential height of 3 feet (0.9 m), this plant is sized right for container growing. Bottlebrush can be pruned annually after its main flush of flowering in the spring and summer is complete. Pruning will help keep your shrub to a size appropriate to its container.

Rock Rose

(Cistus hybrid)

Close-up of rock rose shrub covered with pink blooms, Cistus hybrid
Ranging in height from 3-6 feet (0.9-1.8 m) and producing masses of delicate pink, white or purple flowers, the Rock Rose is a great choice for filling a larger corner. As a native of southern Europe and the Middle East, it’s also happiest in the hot sun and dry, sandy soils, making it ideal for containers on patios or decks sitting in direct sunlight for most of the day.

Flowering Shrubs in Planters for Shade

There are few flowering plants that are truly happy in deep shade, but so long as you choose an area that receives at least a little direct sun during the day, or a reasonable amount of reflected ambient light, you can still add a flowering container plant to liven up a slightly gloomy area. Here are three of the best options.

Yaku Rhododendron

(Rhododendron yakushimanum)

Yaku rhododendron in a garden border covered with white flowers, Rhododendron yakushimanum

Like most rhododendron varieties, the Yaku is happy to grow in dappled woodland-style shade, producing clusters of bell-shaped, pink or white blooms in spring. It’s also a great choice for container growing, thanks to its preference for soil that’s slightly more acidic than found in a typical garden.

Japanese Pieris

(Pieris japonica ‘Forest Flame’)

Beautiful branch of Japanese pieris shrub showing bright red new foliage and clusters of white flowers, Pieris japonica ‘Forest Flame’

Also known as the lily of the valley shrub, the ‘Forest Flame’ variety of Japanese pieris is especially ornamental. This variety produces long-lasting, white, bell-shaped flowers backed up by dramatic leaves that emerge as bright red before maturing to green. The foliage of Japanese pieris is evergreen so it provides the perfect backdrop for the flowers and new growth. This is important since Japanese pieris is one of the very first plants to bloom in early spring.

Escallonia ‘Compacta’

(Escallonia hybrid)

Close-up of escallonia 'compacta' vibrant pink flowers, Escallonia hybrid

Taking the dramatic leaves and red-pink flowers of a full-size Escallonia but packing them into a dwarfing shrub form, this plant makes a great choice for smaller and relatively shady areas. Although it can grow in full sun, placing it in cooler, shadier conditions can help to prolong the blooming season to nearly all year round.

Fragrant Shrubs for Pots

Lastly, container shrubs with a beautiful scent are perfect for placing around the edges of decks, porches, or other areas where you can fully appreciate the perfume.

Eternal Fragrance Daphne ‘Blafra’

(Daphne x transatlantica)

Close-up of flower cluster on Daphne Eternal Fragrance 'Blafra' shrub, Daphne x transatlantica
Growing up to 3 feet (0.9 m) high, Daphne ‘Blafra’ is a compact plant that produces pinkish white flowers over a long period from spring to autumn, with the leaves staying evergreen in milder locations. But the main reason for growing this Daphne variety is the intense fragrance it produces, making it a delight to grow by walkways, patios and decks.


(Buddleia davidii)

Close-up of purple flower cluster on a buddleia, or butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii

Also known as the butterfly bush for its ability to attract the colorful insects to your garden, Buddleia produces masses of drooping flower clusters in colors ranging from white through pink and lavender to deep purple. It also produces a distinctive honey-like scent that’s a perfect backdrop for summer afternoons and evenings.

Angel’s Trumpet Flower

(Datura metaloides)
Angel's trumpet plant in a pot with a single big white bloom, Datura metaloides
Angel’s trumpet flower is an ideal choice for those who are away from home during the day. The white, trumpet-shaped flowers stay closed through much of the daylight hours, but open up in the evening with a heady fragrance that attracts pollinating moths. But while this plant looks and smells wonderful, the flowers can also be toxic to humans, so be sure to grow it safely away from children’s areas.

Caring for Potted Shrubs

But whichever of these flowering container shrubs you decide to grow, here are some straightforward tips to help you keep them in the best of health.
  • Container plants need frequent watering, often daily in sunny spots. If this might be a problem, choosing larger containers will stop the soil from drying out quite so quickly.
  • Shrubs in pots can quickly lose their compact appeal if they’re left to grow unchecked. Each spring or early summer, carefully prune the plants to help them keep in shape, and you’ll be rewarded with a denser show of blooms.
  • Outdoor container plants should be fertilized every two to three weeks during the growing season, using a product formulated for flowering plants.
  • Pot plants may also appreciate a fresh sprinkling of compost over the surface each fall, to give a little winter protection as well as replenish nutrient levels.
  • Lastly, check each plant you grow for its hardiness zone, and if necessary move the containers indoors or to a sheltered place if freezing conditions are expected in your area.
Looking for inspiration on arranging your flowering shrubs? Read 5 Clever Ways to Use Plant Containers to discover real-world, colorful ideas for brightening up your garden with flowering plants in pots.

outdoor patio seating area surrounded by pots of colorful flowering plants


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