Here’s the deal on potted patio trees. Every balcony, deck, and patio can use at least one container-grown small patio tree. These container trees range from 3′ to 8′ feet tall and are easy to move around the landscape if needed.
Growing trees in pots brings height to a small area and tight space, especially on a balcony. They can also add privacy, color from flowers, and fragrance.
Combine small container outdoor potted trees with flower bed planters to create garden designs using container gardens as focal points.
Since these are small pot trees, they’re not good for use as potted trees for shade.
Evergreen conifers, such as pine, juniper, fir, and cypress trees, make good container plants, offering year-round interest and structure on patios, terraces, and balconies.
It is best to keep things simple. There are many different types of container-grown trees, and just because you grow trees in pots doesn’t mean your tree won’t get very tall.
Too many in the small space of a patio, courtyard, or balcony can quickly:
- Become overcrowded
- Reduce available light
- Makes watering and care more of a chore
With limited space, it is essential to pick the right small trees for pots. Ones suited for use on a patio.
Dress them with attractive terra cotta pots or decorative planters to create the perfect potted tree for your patio, deck, or balcony.
When selecting any patio tree for a container, consider these factors:
- Amount of full sun or light available
- Overall height, width, and growth rate
- Special “F” attributes: Flowers, Fruit, Foliage Color, Fragrance
- Water and Soil requirements
- How ‘dirty’ the tree is – dropping seeds, flowers, or fruits
- Special needs – slow-release fertilizer, pruning, potting soil, additional drainage holes in the pot, etc
Below is a list of the best outdoor trees in pots. Most flowers, some with fragrance, and some attract butterflies or hummingbirds.
Many of these plants are grown as bushes but also as a tree form or Standard.
These patio trees in pots can also be pruned into tree forms with multiple trunks.
Trees grown in the same container for many years can deplete the nutrients in the soil and run out of the ones they need.
Patio Rose Tree
There’s a place for rose trees in every garden.
The introduction of the Knockout Rose and its:
- Wide range of growing zones
- Ease of care
- Many color and blooming possibilities
- Minimal disease issues
All make the rose a natural choice as a patio tree for any location.
Tree roses make:
- Informal gardens are more radiant
- Small gardens are more intimate
- Formal gardens are more stately
The tree roses are great potted shrubs for patios.
Their mature size ranges between 4′ – 7′ feet tall and 2′ – 3′ feet widespread.
The beautiful color matches nearly any pots for trees you’ll come across.
Make sure your pot has good drainage holes. If there is excess water in the pot, it can freeze and cause damage to the tree’s root system. Make sure the mulch or straw you are using is not wet or damp.
Plant bare root trees in a large pot in ericaceous compost for the most economical option.
Related: Learn more about Knockout Rose Tree care
Hibiscus – Tropical Variety
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in warm areas can bloom almost year-round. Native to the tropics with large, colorful blooms.
Related: Learn more on Hibiscus Tree Care
The tropical Hibiscus plant tolerates high temperatures outdoors, making it the perfect potted plant for the patio during the summer months.
Hibiscus tree care – With higher temperatures, keep them well watered in the first growing season, watering them daily in warmer weather.
Hibiscus – Rose of Sharon
Hibiscus syriacus grows outdoors on a patio, balcony, or terrace.
Related: More details on growing and care of the Hibiscus Rose of Sharon tree
This handsome patio ornamental grows a bushy, deciduous shrub. Given time, it may grow to 10′ feet tall and needs a warm, sheltered spot in which it will flourish.
The lovely trumpet-shaped red, blue, pink, yellow, or white blooms are beautiful to look at up close.
This Hibiscus Rose of Sharon tree grows well in a container, tub, or barrel and develops into a graceful plant.
One advantage of growing this plant in a container is that it can “wait its turn” and be brought on to center stage just before it begins to bloom.
Magnificent plant with glowing blooms in a variety of colors.
Related: More on how to care for Bougainvillea trees
Bougainvillea trees love a warm and sunny climate and are perfect as a small potted tree on a south-facing patio or balcony.
Truly eye-catching. With so many flowers, the leaves are almost hidden by color when blooming.
Fuchsia trees are prolific bloomers all summer.
Flowers of richly colored sepals, leaf lobes, and petals create an eye-catching colorful display.
Related: Read our article Fuchsia trees growing and Care.
Fuchsia trees are most beautiful when growing in half-shade and cool locations.
Too much heat or sun leads to rapid flower loss and evaporation.
Keep plants well watered. Needs extra care but is worth the effort.
Brunfelsia – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
The common name of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, with blooms opening dark purple, fading to lavender, and finally white.
Related: Details on the care of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – Brunfelsia trees
In bloom, Brunfelsia trees have many flowers, from purple to white, with fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers.
Heat and shade-tolerant and enjoys a location with well-drained soil and a partially sunny spot.
In northern areas, move Brunfelsia to a cool, bright area indoors. Move outdoors when the last frost passes.
The Princess Flower has big, velvety leaves and bright purple blooms from Brazil.
Related: Learn more about the ‘Princess flower’ – Tibouchina urvilleana tree
The Tibouchina grows as an outdoor potted small tree in the summer, reaching 5′ to 7′ feet tall.
Cut new shoots back for a more compact plant. Prune hard when flowering is over. The most commonly grown variety is Tibouchina urvilleana.
The Oleander, with its narrow, dark green leaves 4″ to 12″ inches long, is attractive in all seasons.
Related: Read more on caring for Oleander Trees
Oleander enjoys being outdoors in a sunny spot. A balcony or patio is ideal. Give it lots of water during active growth in late spring and summer.
Usually grown as a bush but makes a wonderful tree!
The Lantana is a beautiful perennial and a popular summer flower.
Related: More on How to care for and grow Lantana trees and bushes
Lantana has gained in popularity in recent years. The glowing colorful blooms love the warmth of a sunny patio.
Older mature size plants can be trained into small patio trees like rose trees or fuschias.
In areas with harsh winters, Lantana summers outdoors in pots and comes indoors to overwinter.
The flowers grow in clusters with a spicy fragrance.
The Gardenia needs plenty of light and grows in rich, acid soil to produce the intoxicatingly fragrant, creamy white flowers.
Related: Growing details and info on Gardenia tree care
The dark green leaves are waxy when growing in the right conditions.
The Gardenia has long been called the ideal flower for the buttonhole.
Gardenias grow at a temperature of around 65° degrees Fahrenheit and need plenty of light. Growing outdoors, they do well in direct sunlight. Never allow them to dry out.
Known by the name ‘Peregrina” a small shrub that flowers all year round, with round clusters of pink, red, and orange flowers.
Loves full sun, and regular pruning will produce a full and lush plant.
Jatropha Integerrima trees are excellent plants for attracting butterflies.
Brugmansia or Angel Trumpet, when in bloom, is – Spectacular!
The flowers are gigantic and have a wonderful fragrance at night!
Related: Learn growing details and Angel Trumpet Tree Care
Grows well in large containers and thrives outdoors in the summer.
The trumpet-like flowers which hang down are huge – up to one foot or longer on mature size 4′-6′ feet tall plants.
One small tree in bloom will perfume a large outdoor space.
Citrus – Lemons, Calamondin, Limes
Citrus trees (often lemon trees) are well suited to slow-growing in containers. Kumquat trees are another good choice. Make sure the citrus plants get enough light and water regularly.
There are many fruit trees you can grow outside, but nothing is juicier than an orange tree.
Citrus wants consistent moisture but does not overwater. Dry soil and roots lead to bud and flower drops.
More on Caring for Citrus:
Let the water flush through the pot, and then allow the soil to drain thoroughly. Be sure the base of the container is never sitting in water.
During the months of summer, your citrus will enjoy life outside on a patio or deck. Locate the potted citrus tree so it receives sun in the morning.
All citrus plants are frost-tender; in cold climates, plan on bringing the trees inside to a sunny window or greenhouse. The plants can use shade during the hot afternoon sun.
The butterfly bush (Buddleia) thrives in sunny locations such as a patio or deck when planted in well-drained soil.
Buddleias grow fast – so the larger the container, the better. Keep plant 3′-5′ feet tall with pruning.
Related: More on Buddleia butterfly bush care
The young stems are somewhat furry, and leaves vary significantly from one variety to another.
The plant blooms throughout the early summer and into the autumn, attracting birds and butterflies with its penetrating, fragrant flowers.
They like full sun and loose soil and are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-10.
Croton plants are grown mainly for their beautiful leaves in a rainbow of colors.
Croton trees make excellent patio plants with heights of 4′-5′ feet tall. They need lots of humidity and water in the summer.
Related: Details on Croton tree plants outdoors
Often sold as bushes at garden centers, but when plants are allowed to grow larger and upright, they make beautiful colorful small patio trees in containers.
Crotons have many different leaf forms to make using Crotons design an excellent choice.
They’ve been used extensively in theme parks and make nice additions to the backyard patio.
Olives are naturally shallow-rooting, compared to other trees their size, and a mature olive — gnarled branches and all — can live happily in a container for years if given the right care.
The best containers for trees are the ones that are strong and durable enough to be outside in the elements for years and still look great.
Be sure to start with a good-sized container for mature and small trees; plant in well-draining soil in a sunny location. Give consistent moisture and, in cold climates, shelter in winter.
The best trees to grow in pots can add much-needed interest to patios, courtyards, and other areas of your backyard.
Though we have compiled a list of patio trees and balcony trees, there are others.
- Japanese Maple
- Powder Puff Tree (Calliandra)
- Crape Myrtle
- Apple tree
- Fig Trees
- Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
- Olive tree
- Eastern redbud
- Sweet Bay
- Ornamental Crabapple
- Jamaican Bell Flower
Related: Check out our article on the best patio plants for pots outdoors
When it comes to these patio trees and shrubs, much depends on your location and lifestyle. A beautiful alternative to natural decorations, potted trees are perfect for the living room, bathroom, foyer, or bedroom.
Some recommended conifers to consider are dwarf varieties of cypress trees, yew trees, mountain pines, and Chinese juniper.