Plants in planters bring pool decks to life with color and movement, as leaves and blooms sway in the breeze, but the plants must tolerate dry conditions and high light levels reflected from the pool water and deck surfaces. Planters for pool decks must have drainage holes, but watering should be kept to a minimum to avoid damaging the deck or pool equipment. Select plants with small root balls, such as palms, to avoid cracking the planters. Low-litter plants reduce sweeping chores, and plants with showy blooms in vivid colors add tropical appeal.
Plants that look like palms but don't grow so large provide year-round color on pool decks and grow well in planters. The slow-growing king sago palm (Cycas revoluta), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 10, produces shiny, arching, palmlike leaves above a shaggy trunk. Growing 3 to 10 feet tall and wide, this evergreen plant takes 50 years or longer to reach its full size.
Coontie (Zamia pumila, USDA zones 8 through 10) grows 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, and features clumps of arching, dark green fronds. Grow a male coontie to avoid cones filled with orange seeds that appear in fall. Both sago palm and coontie grow in full sun and shady sites, and require watering to the depth of 1 inch when the potting soil surface is dry.
Perennials with showy flowers are less likely to cause allergies on a pool deck because they're usually pollinated by animals. Montbretia (Crocosmia "Lucifer") bears arching sprays of tubular, scarlet summer flowers from clumps of sword-shaped leaves. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, "Lucifer" grows 2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.
Transvaal daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) offers daisylike flowers 4 inches wide in sunset colors. Growing 12 to 18 inches tall and 9 to 12 inches wide, Transvaal daisy is also known as Barberton daisy and is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10. Growing Transvaal daisy in a planter allows this plant to be overwintered indoors in cold zones. Both "Lucifer" and Transvaal daisy grow in full-sun and partial-shade sites, and do best in well-drained potting soil.
Annuals provide long seasons of bloom and can be switched up every year, giving variety to planters on pool decks. Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) is a fuss-free annual that sprouts from seeds sown direct in planters in spring. Providing bright yellow to deep orange, daisylike flowers, pot marigold grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Sow pot marigold directly in planters outdoors just before the final local average frost date.
Floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum "Blue Horizon") grows 12 to 30 inches tall and 6 to 18 inches wide, and features clusters of lavender or purplish-blue blooms on upright stems. Sow "Blue Horizon" indoors six to eight weeks before the last local average frost date, and transplant into planters after the last frost for the longest season of bloom.
Offering strong shapes and exotic blooms, succulents produce little litter to mess up pool decks. African aloe (Aloe saponaria) bears spikes of coral-colored flowers that attract hummingbirds and grows 10 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
Flamingo Glow Mexican lily (Beschorneria yuccoides "Besys") offers pink stalks that carry bright green flowers in red bracts, and grows 3 to 5 feet tall and wide.
Both African aloe and Flamingo Glow Mexican lily are hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11, and tolerate drought. African aloe grows in shady and full-sun sites, but Flamingo Glow Mexican lily grows best in full sun.
- The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Plants for Poolside Landscapes
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cycas Revoluta
- Monrovia: Coontie
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Crocosmia "Lucifer"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gerbera Jamesonii
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Calendula Officinalis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Ageratum Houstonianum "Blue Horizon"
- Monrovia: African Aloe
- Monrovia: Flamingo Glow Mexican Lily
- Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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