50 Best Shrubs for Containers | Best Container Gardening Plants

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Here are some easy to grow shrubs for containers that will look fantastic on patios and balconies, alike!

These shrubs for containers are perfect for porches, balconies, gardens, and even indoors. Plus, they have a bushy growth, so they fill up the pot and make your home or garden look prettier and fuller.


Shrubs for Containers

1. Flowering Maple

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Botanical Name: Abutilon

USDA Zones: 8-11

Pot Size: 12-18 inches

Flowering Maple needs just 6-8 hours of direct sunlight and it will give you gorgeous hollyhock-like flowers. This plant adapts well to container life, making it a low-maintenance choice.

2. Andromeda

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Botanical Name: Andromeda polifolia

USDA Zones: 5-9

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Andromeda can easily grow 2-4 feet tall and grows well in cool temperatures. It also has tiny pink flowers and is prized for its glossy foliage. It’s closely related to azaleas, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels.

3. Anisodontea

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Botanical Name: Anisodontea

USDA Zones: 9-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Anisodonteas grow in full sun and have absolutely gorgeous pink flowers. They’re great for balconies and porches. Anisodonteas are native to South Africa and can easily grow 6-10 feet tall. They are also heat and drought-tolerant.

4. Aster

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Botanical Name: Aster

USDA Zones: 3-8

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

You can find Asters in tons of colors and they’re really easy to grow container shrubs. You can choose from Bushy Asters, New England Asters, and Smooth Asters. With proper care, they will reward you with a long season of blooms.

5. Spotted Laurel

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Botanical Name: Aucuba Japonica

USDA Zones: 7-10

Pot Size: 16-20 inches

Spotted Laurel has beautiful green foliage that’s covered in golden spots, earning it the name “Gold Dust.” It also produces small red berries. It’s native to rich forest soils of moist valleys, thickets, streams, and near shaded moist rocks in China, Korea, and Japan.

6. Azalea

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Botanical Name: Rhododendron

USDA Zones: 4-9

Pot Size: 10-16 inches

Azaleas are the most beautiful flowering shrubs for containers and have massive flowers. Just keep them safe from the harsh afternoon sun. Most of these bloom in spring (April and May in the Northern Hemisphere), with some reblooming varieties flowering again in summer or fall.

7. Bougainvillea

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Botanical Name: Bougainvillea

USDA Zones: 9-12

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Bougainvilleas need full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Their lovely pink, red, white, and yellow flowers will fill any container you plant them in. Did you know that Bougainvillea can be grown as a vine, a shrub, or even a bonsai tree?

8. Brugmansia

Best Container Gardening Plants in garden

Botanical Name: Brugmansia

USDA Zones: 9-11

Pot Size: 18-24 inches

The flowers of Brugmansia shrubs smell great at night and attract many different pollinators. What more could you want from a shrub? You should be careful around it because all parts of Brugmansia are poisonous if ingested and can cause serious health problems or death.

9. Butterfly Bush

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Botanical Name: Buddleia

USDA Zones: 5-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Butterfly Bush has flowering panicles in white, red, pink, purple, and even blue. If you’re growing one in a container, you’ll need a dwarf variety. The best time to plant butterfly bushes is in spring or fall.

10. Boxwood

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Botanical Name: Buxus

USDA Zones: 5-11

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

Boxwood is an adaptable and easy-to-grow shrub. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures as well. Boxwood shrubs are a low-maintenance landscaping option that can add structure to your yard. They also thrive for many years.

11. Calamansi

Best Container Gardening Plants indoor

Botanical Name: Citrus × microcarpa

USDA Zones: 9-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Calamansis stays compact and will even give you fruit if you give it enough sun. Don’t forget to prune it after fruiting. The fruit of the Calamansi resembles a small, round lime. It tastes like kumquat but with hints of citrus.

12. Bottlebrush

Best Container Gardening Plants outdoor

Botanical Name: Callistemon

USDA Zones: 8-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Bottlebrush is a pollinator favorite and looks lovely with its red flowers. You can also find it in pink, yellow, and white. Bottlebrush shrubs are relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for. They are drought-tolerant once established, but you will need to give them occasional watering during dry periods.

13. Camellia

Best Container Gardening Plants outdoor

Botanical Name: Camellia japonica

USDA Zones: 7-9

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Camellias are popular ornamental plants and are often used in landscaping and as container plants. These shrubs for containers need partial shade. If you’re growing it indoors, give it filtered sunlight through a curtain.

14. Rock Rose

Best Container Gardening Plants in pot

Botanical Name: Cistus

USDA Zones: 8-11

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

Rock Roses are actually Mediterranean shrubs that are really tough and drought-tolerant. Plant them once and skip the care because they can thrive on neglect. These shrubs are hardy, deer-resistant, and withstand extreme heat, too. They also grow well in poor-quality soils where other plants can’t.

15. Lemon

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Botanical Name: Citrus limon

USDA Zones: 10-11

Pot Size: 18-24 inches

Who wouldn’t want to grow and relish their own lemons? All you need is a Lemon shrub growing in a container. Here’s how to grow this shrub or small tree.

16. Cotoneaster

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aleidapullar

Botanical Name: Cotoneaster

USDA Zones: 5-8

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

Cotoneaster is usually grown as a ground cover or in hedges in the gardens, but it can also be grown as a container plant. You’ll need a large container because it spreads a lot! But you can choose upright or wall Cotoneasters instead of spreading ones.

17. Daphne

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Botanical Name: Daphne

USDA Zones: 4-8

Pot Size: 10-12 inches

Daphne shrubs should be kept in partial shade. Plus, they love moist soil, so don’t forget to water them properly. They’ll produce lovely small flower clusters for you. Many of these shrubs are also used to make paper.

18. Silverberry

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pallensmith

Botanical Name: Elaeagnus

USDA Zones: 2-11

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Silverberry is a drought-tolerant container shrub with beautiful silver-green foliage. It loves to grow without much maintenance and is a great choice for coastal areas. They are resistant to pests and diseases, and their fast growth rate makes them great for creating privacy screens or hedges.

19. Escallonia

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Botanical Name: Escallonia

USDA Zones: 8-10

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Escalonias are beautiful, decorative, and have fragrant foliage–all three things you need from a shrub growing in a container. Plus, they’ll give you pretty flowers. Escallonia shrubs are also known for their salt tolerance, making them a lovely choice for coastal gardens.

20. Forsythia

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thecreativityexchange

Botanical Name: Forsythia

USDA Zones: 4-9

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Look for dwarf Forsythias for container growing. These shrubs are not fussy about soil types and need plenty of sunlight. They are well-known for their bright yellow flowers that bloom in early spring, often before the leaves emerge. This makes them a welcome sight after the long winter, and they are called “harbingers of spring.”

21. Fuchsia

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gardenandphals

Botanical Name: Fuchsia

USDA Zones: 6-11

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

Fuchsias are great choices for gardens, patios, balconies, and interiors because of their bell-shaped flowers. They’re also dual toned. The leaves of fuchsia shrubs are green, elliptical, and pointed.

22. Wintergreen

Best Container Gardening Plants in pot indoor

Botanical Name: Gaultheria procumbens

USDA Zones: 3-8

Pot Size: 8-10 inches

Wintergreen grows low and spreads by runners. Give it acidic soil and keep the soil moist. You can also crush its leaves for a minty fragrance. Wintergreen shrubs also produce small, bright red berries in the fall and winter. You can eat these but they have a strong, minty flavor.

23. Gardenia

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Botanical Name: Gardenia jasminoides

USDA Zones: 8-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Gardenia shrubs are not low maintenance, but they are worth the hassle. They love warm temperatures, high humidity, acidic soil, and partial shade. If your soil is not naturally acidic, you can amend it with peat moss or sulfur.

24. Gaura

Best Container Gardening Plants in garden

Botanical Name: Gaura

USDA Zones: 5-9

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

You might also know Gaura as Bee Blossom or Whirling Butterflies. Gaura are popular perennials grown for their long summer blooms and low-maintenance nature. This shrub has beautiful flowers and attracts tons of butterflies and other beneficial insects.

25. Pomegranate

Best Container Gardening Plants indoor

Botanical Name: Punica granatum

USDA Zones: 9-11

Pot Size: 18-24 inches

If you’re looking for a fruit tree or shrub for containers, you should plant your own Pomegranate shrub. They grow well in tropical and subtropical regions and will give you juicy and tarty flavors. You’ll need this guide.

26. Gooseberry

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Botanical Name: Phyllanthus emblica

USDA Zones: 3-10

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

There are only a few fruits that you can grow in the container without any difficulty, and Gooseberry is one of them. This shrub is relatively easy to grow. Give it full sun to partial shade, keep it well-drained, and water it regularly. It’s that simple.

27. Hebe

Best Container Gardening Plants indoor

Botanical Name: Hebe

USDA Zones: 6-10

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

This small, prolific shrub grows up to 3 feet tall. Some Hebe shrubs have green leaves, while others have variegated leaves with splashes of white, cream, yellow, or pink. Growing Hebe in a container is easy, and it will flower in summer.

28. Hibiscus

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Botanical Name: Hibiscus

USDA Zones: 5-11

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Hibiscus is the most popular flowering shrub. Growing hibiscus in a pot is not difficult–all it asks for is plenty of sunshine and proper watering. Tropical Hibiscus is not frost hardy, so you’ll need to bring it indoors during the winter months.

29. Hydrangea

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plantswithstories

Botanical Name: Hydrangea macrophylla

USDA Zones: 3-11

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

With clusters of colorful flowers and big, dramatic leaves, Hydrangea is a stunning choice for a container garden. You should plant it in a large pot and provide regular watering. You can also grow them as specimens, hedge plants, and make a border with them.

30. Holly

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Botanical Name: Ilex

USDA Zones: 5-9

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Growing Holly in containers requires care. It is better to choose a dwarf variety for a container garden–like Inkberry, Japanese Holly, or Sky Pencil. The flowers of Holly shrubs are produced in the early spring before the leaves. They are bright yellow.

31. Lantana

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Botanical Name: Lantana camara

USDA Zones: 10-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Lantanas are tropical climate shrubs and thrive on neglect. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa and bloom tirelessly throughout the year. Just give them fertilizer in spring and early summer.

32. Laurel Bay Leaf

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Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis

USDA Zones: 8-11

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Bay Laurel is also a good choice for containers. It is prized for its glossy green leaves, which are widely used in cooking as a seasoning. Here’s everything you’ll need to grow Bay Laurel shrub.

33. Viburnum

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Botanical Name: Viburnum Tinus

USDA Zones: 7-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Viburnum has pretty clusters of tiny flowers and grows well in containers. It has compact and bushy foliage and fills the air with a mild, sweet scent. You should go with Snowball or Cranberry viburnums–they’re the best and most popular.

34. Lavender

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Botanical Name: Lavandula

USDA Zones:  5-9

Pot Size: 10-12 inches

Lavenders are easy to grow, and including them in your plant collection will turn your home into a fragrant one. And don’t even get us started on the lavender flowers. Lavender shrubs can vary in size depending on the species, but they’re usually 1-3 feet tall and wide.

35. Lilacs

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Botanical Name: Syringa

USDA Zones: 4-9

Pot Size: 18-24 inches

If you love fragrance, you will love Lilacs. Get a pot that’s about a foot deep and about 2 feet wide and grow dwarf Lilies in it–like Bloomerang Lilac or Dwarf Korean Lilac. Lilac shrubs are deciduous, which means that they lose their leaves in the fall.

36. Magnolia

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Botanical Name: Magnolia

USDA Zones: 6-10

Pot Size: 18-24 inches

Magnolias grow slowly, which means you can have one in the pot for a long time. But the best way to grow Magnolia in a container is to buy its dwarf shrub variety. Magnolias are relatively low-maintenance shrubs that prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

37. Crepe Myrtle

Best Gardening Plants in pot

Botanical Name: Lagerstroemia

USDA Zones: 7-10

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Crepe myrtles come in many sizes, from dwarf varieties reaching 3-4 feet tall to larger types growing 10-15 feet tall. They’re perfect for pots. Make sure they get full sun to partial shade, and don’t prune them–they rarely need it.

38. Pittosporum

Best Gardening Plants in pot

Botanical Name: Pittosporum

USDA Zones: 8-10

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Pittosporum is great for a tall entryway container because it is lush and produces lovely flowers. The leaves are spirally arranged or whorled, simple, with an entire or waved margin. Look for the Silver Sheen, Nana, and Little Gold varieties.

39. Peony

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Botanical Name: Paeonia

USDA Zones: 3-8

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Peony flowers are large and can be single or double-petaled. Plus, the leaves are lush and it looks wonderful in containers. They are also considered to be a symbol of wealth, romance, and happiness.

40. Potentilla

Best Container Gardening Plants it pot

Botanical Name: Potentilla

USDA Zones: 2-7

Pot Size: 10-14 inches

Potentilla thrives in containers! They grow 4-5 feet tall, so choose a well-draining pot and a sunny spot. The most popular one of these that’s used in landscaping is the Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa).

41. Rose

Best Container Gardening Plants
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Botanical Name: Rosa

USDA Zones: 3-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Planting shrub Roses in pots is a good idea. However, they require care and regular maintenance. You can read our rose care tips for help. Also, pick Floribunda or Grandiflora roses for containers. Hybrid tea roses are also good.

42. Rosemary

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Botanical Name: Salvia rosmarinus

USDA Zones: 6-9

Pot Size: 12-14 inches

Rosemary is a highly aromatic perennial and a useful culinary shrub. Its beautiful blue-colored flowers and silvery-green foliage also make it an ornamental plant. Win-win. If you are looking for a low-maintenance, fragrant, and versatile shrub to add to your container garden, then Rosemary is for you.

43. Sedge

Best Container Gardening Plants in pot

Botanical Name: Cyperaceae

USDA Zones: 4-10

Pot Size: 8-10 inches

Sedge is easy to maintain and looks great on a patio or terrace. Keep it in a sunny position in a temperate climate and under shade in the tropics. Its flowers are small and inconspicuous, and they are usually borne in spikes or clusters.

44. Spirea

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Botanical Name: Spirea

USDA Zones: 4-9

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

Dwarf varieties like Spirea Japonica “Nana” are ideal for growing in a container. They require slightly moist soil to grow. You can also use them in foundation plantings for year-round interest. They also make beautiful borders.

45. Japanese Skimmia

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Botanical Name: Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana

USDA Zones: 7-9

Pot Size: 10-12 inches

Japanese Skimmia loves cool, shady spots in pots. Water it regularly and use acidic soil for its glossy green leaves and long-lasting red berries. It’s native to Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, but you can easily find it in a garden center near you.

46. Kalmia Latifolia

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havlis

Botanical Name: Kalmia latifolia

USDA Zones: 5-9

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

This acid-loving shrub will give you huge clusters of bright red flower buds that open into strong pink blooms. ‘Little Linda’ is the best choice for containers. You need to know that all parts of the Kalmia latifolia plant are poisonous and can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and other problems if ingested.

47. Virginia Sweetspire

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centrojardinereba

Botanical Name: Itea virginica

USDA Zones: 5-9

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

The Virginia Sweetspire has long, creamy white and green flower tassels. Keep the container in a sheltered spot and partial shade. In fall, the leaves of this shrub change their color and turn into pretty shades of red, orange, and gold.

48. Ninebark

Best Gardening Plants in pot

Botanical Name: Physocarpus opulifolius

USDA Zones: 3-9

Pot Size: 14-18 inches

Ninebark has a rust-colored foliage that turns everyone’s heads. A simple monochrome pot will surely uplift the foliage and make a great centerpiece. Ninebark gives springtime blooms, lush foliage in summer, vibrant fall colors in some varieties, and pretty exfoliating bark that provides winter interest.

49. Ixora

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Botanical Name: Ixora coccinea

USDA Zones: 9-11

Pot Size: 12-16 inches

This low-maintenance shrub shows off clusters of red, pink, orange, and yellow florets that look like puffballs. It is also called Jungle Flame, Flame of the Woods, and West Indian Jasmine.

50. California Lilac

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Botanical Name: Ceanothus

USDA Zones: 7-10

Pot Size: 10-12 inches

California Lilacs are native to California and bloom in late spring and summer. These blue flower shrubs for containers need full sun and well-drained soil. They are also drought-tolerant once established.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Do podocarpus grow in planters? I have a wall along my driveway that I’d like some privacy. The plant would need to be in a planter.

  2. I love the Camellia. You say they grow well in mild summers but what about the winters? We have mild summers but the winters can be cold (up to -4). Will the plants need replaced every season or will they survive the winter?

    • You could get away with growing a camellia in a very sheltered spot in the ground in your area but for a container plant, you would have to winter it indoors in a cool but not freezing, well-lit room. Plants in containers are less hardy than plants in the ground because their roots are exposed to sub-freezing temperatures.

  3. I live in Canberra where the temp. can vary up to 43C in Summer down to minus 7C in the Winter. They are thriving under deciduous trees with plenty of Autumn leaves as ground cover. They flower well in season giving Winter colour and appreciating the Winter sunshine. I use when necessary a liquid fertiliser . They have been thriving and gradually turning into a hedge of 8 bushes over the 8 years since I first planted them.

  4. This is so informative, thanks for sharing! I’m looking for some shrubs to decorate my patio with and will definitely be using some of these ideas. I love the andromeda in particular. I think it would grow really well in my climate. What size of planter would you recommend? I’m notorious for not giving my plants enough space!
    Thanks for your help!

  5. I must say I’ve never heard of many of these plants! I live in a small town and in the Northwest. I thought the article was well versed but can’t see buying any soon.

  6. I have a very small garden and not much experience with shrubs ,can you recommend anything I can start of with.

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