Decorate Your Porch With Ferns and Flowers
Bring your garden right up to your front door.
Warm, sunny days and cool nights mean it’s porch season. If you’re already into gardening, you can easily decorate your porch with a variety of green and blooming options. But it's easy to dress up your outdoor space even if you don't have a green thumb.
Just begin by choosing plants that match your growing conditions. Many can thrive in the indirect or filtered light found on most porches. If you don’t have enough sun for flowers, add color with foliage plants, pots and other containers.
Ferns are a classic choice for porches. Their greenery works as a neutral backdrop for everything from pastel pink and lavender flowers to bold red, orange and yellow blooms. They also play well with other foliage plants; mix things up with a variety of leaf shapes, sizes and textures.
Boston ferns have arching ferns and need bright but indirect light. Large, showy specimens provide instant impact.
Kimberly ferns love sun. Their upright growth habit gives them a formal, elegant look, and they’re nice around cottage or Victorian homes. Give them some shade on hot days.
For porches with morning sun and afternoon shade, try Macho ferns. Their arching branches grow 3 to 4’ long, so they need lots of room. Because they're big and dramatic-looking, don’t put them where they’ll overwhelm small potted plants.
If your porch is small, opt for Dallas ferns, which have attractive, ruffled fronds. Avoid overwatering them, and keep them in indirect light.
Plants for Porches With Some Sun
While many flowers crave full sun, you can have blooms on a porch that gets limited light.
New Guinea impatiens need sun for part of the day, but too much can actually inhibit their flowers. For best results, give them an eastern exposure and watch their blooms explode in red, orange, pink, yellow, white, purple or lavender.
Easy-to-grow begonias thrive in dappled light. Wax begonias, which you can find with red or green leaves, can adapt to more sun than Rex or tuberose begonias. For a tropical look, grow red and pink Angelwing begonias, named for their wing-shaped foliage.
Flowering maples (Abutilon) like medium to bright light, and produce bell-shaped flowers in red, orange, pink or yellow. While they’re lovely in hanging baskets, some varieties can get quite tall.
If part of your porch is uncovered, you can grow flowers like purple Supertunia 'Royal Velvet' petunias and yellow Sunsatia 'Lemon' nemesia.
You’ll find exotic-looking bromeliads for full sun, while others like shade. Most crotons also need sun to show their brightest colors, but others take partial shade. Look for crotons with red, yellow, orange, purple, bronze and even black foliage. Don't overlook colorful coleus; some take sun to medium shade.
Design Tips for Porchs
- Pair graceful ferns with other shade lovers, like snake plants, which have stiff, upright leaves, or caladiums with heart or arrow-shaped foliage.
- For added interest, pot up containers of ferns with trailers like dichondra, creeping jenny or variegated ivy.
- Create a unified look by repeating the plants on your porch. Use a trio of matching plants in different spots, or make a row of palms along one edge of your porch.
- Vary the heights of your plants. Put containers on plant stands or stagger them on steps, or opt for tall plants, such as dracaenas, ficus and palms.
- Weave strings of miniature outdoor lights through your plants for nighttime ambience.
Even if your porch gets a lot of shade, don’t give up your dream of a tropical paradise. Keep pots of sun-loving petunias, geraniums and hibiscus in your garden and bring them onto your porch when they bloom. Move them back when the flowers fade.
Another option: install a trellis or lattice panel on the side of your porch for climbing and vining plants like mandevillas, bougainvilleas and other sun-seekers. You’ll have to let the plants face the sun, but gaps in the latticework will let their bright colors peek through. Bonus: the trellis or lattice will offer some privacy.