Plants for Exposed Sites in Containers in Full Sun

Geranium can survive a battering
Please share this with friends and family


In this article, we will be discussing plants that can be grown in containers where the site is exposed and is in full sun. In this garden, resilient plants are required that can take freezing temperatures in winter that can take strong winds or sprays from coastal areas. Normally trees and shrubs from mountainous regions of the world are used but in container gardening trees are normally off-limits, so you are relying on shrubs that can take hard frosts and strong winds.

Geranium can survive a battering
Geranium can survive a battering

The Latin names are an important clue in this regard. As plants that come from mountainous regions normally can take a hard battering. Names such as Alchemilla alpina from the Alps and Geranium himalayense from the Himalayas.

In this scheme many hardy perennials will disappear underground and so will not require protection from the harsh winter weather, laying dormant until the following spring.

Hardy evergreen shrubs and perennials are resistant to the cold and frost with their own anti-freeze solution made out of sugar and amino acids within their cells. Use a selection of plants that flower in winter to brighten up this bleak time of year and to use evergreens for permanent structure and some colour.

The plants that are tough as boots and can take anything you throw at them are often the preferred choice.

What follows is my selection of plants that should be used in exposed sites in the full sun:

ALCHEMILLA ALPINA (Alpine Lady’s Mantle)

Alchemilla alpina
Alchemilla alpina

This small, 15cm tall, mat-forming perennial has rounded, dark green, divided leaves which are silver, hairy underneath. In summer, frothy, greenish-yellow flowers are produced, where its hardy and wind resistant varieties make it suitable for in front of container displays. Grow it a well-drained, multipurpose compost.

AQUILEGIA VULGARIS (Granny’s Bonnets)

Aquilegia vulgaris
Aquilegia vulgaris

This 60cm tall, ferny, green-leaved perennial produces upright stems of blue, pink, purple and white bell-shaped flowers from late spring to early summer.

It will look great in front of cottage style container schemes, where it can be grown in well-drained multipurpose compost.

ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA-URIS (Bearberry)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

This short, 15cm tall, creeping, evergreen shrub has glossy, oval-green leaves that are silver underneath. From spring to early summer, small pink or white, urn-shaped flowers appear that are followed by red berries. Grow it in well-drained, ericaceous compost.

ARMERIA MARITIMA (Thrift)

Armeria maritma
Armeria maritima

A short, 15cm tall, evergreen perennial that has grass-like leaves and in late spring to summer on stiff stems bearing pink pompon–like flowers appear. Grow them as part of an alpine scheme in well-drained, multipurpose compost.

ASTER ALPINUS

Aster alpinus
Aster alpinus

This is a short, 15cm tall, clump-forming perennial that has mid-green, lance-shaped leaves, where from late winter, large daisy-like, violet-blue flowers with yellow centres appear. Grow it in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

BERGENIA CORDIFOLIA (Elephant’s Ears)

Bergenia cordifolia
Bergenia cordifolia

This clump-forming, evergreen perennial has large leathery, mid-green, rounded leaves that turn purple in cold weather. This 50cm tall perennial produces red flowering stems bearing clusters of deep pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in early spring. Grow it in a container full of moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost.

BRIZA MEDIA (Common Quaking Grass)

Briza media
Briza media

This 60cm tall, perennial grass has blue-green leaves. From late spring to midsummer, upright stems appear that have green, heart-shaped flowers that soon turn light brown. Place it in front of containers in well-drained, multipurpose compost.

CALLUNA VULGARIS (Heather) ‘Silver Knight’

Calluna vulgaris
Calluna vulgaris

A 30cm tall, low-growing, evergreen shrub that had upright branches covered in green scale-like leaves that turn a purple tinge in winter. In late summer, lavender covered flower spikes appear, when growing it in a container full of well-drained ericaceous compost.

CENTAUREA DEALBATA

Centaurea dealbata
Centaurea dealbata

This is a 1m tall, clumping forming perennial that has divided, green-grey leaves, This drought-resistant plant produces white-edged pink flowers with fringed petals that appear from early to midsummer. Grow it in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

CHIONANTHUS VIRGINICUS (Fringe Tree)

Chionanthus virginicus
Chionanthus virginicus

This 3m tall, large, rounded shrub has dark green leaves and in early summer pendant long-tailed, fragrant white flowers appear. These are followed by blue-black fruits. Although it can take a severe cold, it needs to be sheltered from strong winds. Grow it in a large container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

COREOPSIS (Tickweed) ‘Rum Punch’

Coreopsis 'Rum Punch'
Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch’

A short 45cm tall, bushy perennial that has narrow, divided, green leaves, where in early summer, stems topped with red, daisy-like flowers appear. It is drought tolerant and ideally for windy sites. Grow them in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

CORNUS ALBA (Dogwood)

Cornus alba
Cornus alba

This 3m tall, deciduous, upright shrub that has red stems whilst young and dark green leaves that have bold, autumn colours. Flatheads of white flowers appear in late spring that is followed by white berries. For a variegate form use ‘Sibirica Variegata’. Grow this beautiful shrub in a large container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

CROCOSMIA (Montbretia) ‘Lucifer’

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

This 1m tall, clump-forming perennial has slender, sword-shaped, green leaves, where in late summer, branching flower stems with sprays of red, tubular bloom that last several weeks. Grow them in a large container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

CYTISUS x PRAECOX (Warminster Broom)

Cytisus x praecox
Cytisus x praecox

This 1.2m tall, bushy, deciduous shrub has narrow sparsely covered green stems with small, green leaves. From mid to late spring, many pale, creamy, yellow pea-like blooms are produced. Grow it in a large container full of multipurpose compost.

DELPHINIUM ELATUM

Delphinium elatum
Delphinium elatum

A 2m tall, bushy perennial that has deeply cut, fern-like green leaves and in summer, tall spikes of blue, pink, cream or white flowers appear. Plant them at the back of container displays in well-drained, multipurpose compost, where they will do well in cold sites.

DIANTHUS DELTOIDES ‘Leuchtfunk’

Dianthus deltoides
Dianthus deltoides

This is a cold-tolerant, mat-forming, evergreen perennial with small, narrow, green leaves. In summer bright red, small, flowers are produced, where it will look good in front of container displays. Grow this 20cm tall perennial in  a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

DICTAMNUS ALBUS VAR. PURPUREUS (Purple Flowered Dittany)

Dictamnus albus
Dictamnus albus

This 90cm tall, bushy perennial has divided, glossy, green leaves that have a scent of lemon. In early summer, blooms of purple, star-like flowers appear on purple stems. A great plant for a cool site, where it can be grown in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

ECHIUM PININANA (Tree Echinum)

Echium pininana
Echium pininana

This is a very tall, 4m high biennial or short-lived perennial that has lance-shaped, green leaves that appear in rosettes. In mid to late summer, very tall stems of small, blue blooms with pointed leafy bracts appear. Great in a windy area but will need protection in winter from cold and frosts. Grow it in a very large container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

ERYNGIUM MARITIMUM (Sea Holly)

Ergunium maritimum
Ergunium maritimum

A 50 cm tall, upright perennial that has  blue-green, basal leaves with white veins. Metallic blue, cone-like blooms, with a collar of spiky-like bracts appear in early summer to early autumn. Grow this perennial in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

FARGESIA NITIDA (Chinese Fountain Bamboo)

Fargesia nitida
Fargesia nitida

This clump-forming, evergreen bamboo has slender, arching, purple-tinged stems that have narrow, green leaves, Use it to form a dense hedge in a large rectangular planter, full of moisture-retentive, enriched multipurpose compost.

GAILLARDIA x GRANDIFLORA (Blanket Flower)

Gaillardia x grandiflora
Gaillardia x grandiflora

A 90c tall, bushy perennial that has lance-shaped or lobed, grey-green leaves. In midsummer to autumn, masses of red-yellow flowers with large dark red centres appear. A very cold tolerant plant that best grown in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

GALANTHUS NIVALIS (Double Common Snowdrop) ‘Flore Piano’

Galanthus 'Flore Pleno'
Galanthus ‘Flore Piano’

This is a short 15cm perennial bulb that had grassy, grey-leaves. Above these leaves, fragrant, double white blooms appear in late winter. It is best to grow this bulb under shrubs in a well-drained, multipurpose compost.

GENISTA PILOSA (Hairy Greenweed)

Ginesta pilosa
Ginesta pilosa

A small, deciduous shrub that has narrow, oval, green leaves that are silky-haired underneath. In late spring to early summer, bright yellow flowers appear in very large number. Grow this short, 30cm tall shrub in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

GERANIUM HIMALAYENSE (Cranesbill) ‘Plenum’

Geranium himalayense
Geranium himalayense

This 25cm tall, mat-forming perennial has rounded or lobed, green leaves and in summer double violet-blue, bowl-shaped flowers appear, with a white centre and dark veining.

A hard to kill perennial that can be grown in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

JUNIPERUS RIGIDA

Juniperus rigida
Juniperus rigida

A 30cm tall, prostrating, evergreen conifer that has grey-green, needle-like leaves. It produces blue blooms in summer that are followed by black fruits. Grow ‘Blue Pacific’ as it is the most popular choice. In a very long container, where it can be allowed to spread in well-drained, multipurpose compost.

An alternative is to use Juniperus squamata (Flaky Juniper) ‘Blue Carpet’ that grow up to 30cm tall and produces attractive blue-grey, scaly leaves.

LAVATERA MARITIMA

Lavatera maritima
Lavatera maritima

This is a 1.5m tall, shrub-like, semi-evergreen perennial that has rounded, lobed, grey-green leaves. In late summer, pink-lilac blooms with darker veins are produced. It is best to grow in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

LIATRIS SPICATA (Gayfeather)

Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata

A hardy, upright perennial that can tolerate salty and cold conditions. This 1.5m tall plant forms clumps of linear, green leaves and from early autumn, fluffy poker-like spikes of pink-purple or white flowers appear. ‘Kebold’ is a popular choice where it can be grown in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

LIMONIUM PLATYPHYLLUM

Limonium platyphyllum
Limonium platyphyllum

This 60cm tall perennial that has a rosette of oval, wavy-edged, green leaves at the base. In late summer, wiry stems producing tiny, lavender-blue to violet flowers appear. A salt and cold tolerant plant that can be grown in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

LINUM PERENNE (Perennial Flax)

Linum perenne
Linum perenne

A 30cm tall, clump-forming perennial that has narrow, lance-shaped, blue-grey leaves. From early to midsummer, sky-blue flowers appear on wiry stems that close in the late afternoon. Grow this cold tolerant plant in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

LUPINUS ARBOREUS (Tree Lupins)

Lupinus arboreus
Lupinus arboreus

A 2m tall, bushy, semi-evergreen shrub that has grey-green, divided leaves and is hairy to the touch. In late spring to summer spikes of fragrant, pea-like, yellow bloom appear.

An attractive alternative is Lupinus ‘The Page’ which is a bushy, clump-forming perennial of deeply divided, dark green leaves. In early summer, tall stems of pink-red, pea-like blooms appear.

Grow this plant in  a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

LYSIMACHIA CLETHROIDES (Gooseneck Loosestrife)

Lysimachia clethroides
Lysimachia clethroides

This is a 1m tall, upright, clump-forming perennial that had green, lance-shaped leaves. In mid to late summer, this cold-hardy plant produces arching, tapered, grey-white flowers appear in clusters. Grow it in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

MALCOLMIA MARITIMA (Virginian Stock)

Malcolmia maritima
Malcolmia maritima

A small, 20cm high, growing annual with slender stems of small, narrow, green leaves. From spring to autumn, it bears masses of pink, white red or purple blooms appear, which are highly fragrant. Grow this annual in front of container displays full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

MALVA MASCHATA (Musk Mallow)

Malva maschata
Malva maschata

This 1m tall, bushy perennial has woody stems with deeply lobed, dark green leaves, where in summer to autumn, pale pink, saucer-shaped flowers appear. Grow this hardy plant in containers full of well-drained, multipurpose compost. Look out for the white flower alternative ‘Alba’.

MOLINIA CAERULEA (Purple Moor-Grass)

Molina
Molina caerulea

This 1.5m tall grass has clumps of narrow, mid-green, arching leaves that turn a rich brown in autumn. From summer to autumn, slender stems bear airy, purple flower heads appear, which can be cut back in early spring. Grow it in a large container, full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

PAEONIA OFFICINALIS (Common Peony)

Paeonia officinalis
Paeonia officinalis

This bushy, 75cm tall perennial has dark green leaves, where in early to late summer, red, pink and white single, bowl-shaped or fully double flowers appear. It will tolerate cold very well but may need to be protected from strong winds. Grow this perennial in a large container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

PHILADELPHUS (Mock Orange) ‘Virginia’

Philadelphus virginalis
Philadelphus virginalis

This 3m tall, large, upright shrub has oval, green leaves and in early to midsummer, fragrant, double-white flowers appear. A very hardy plant when planted in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

POTENTILLA FRUTICOSA (Cinquefoil)

Potentilla fruticosa
Potentilla fruticosa

This hardy shrub has deeply divided, dark green leaves, in which small yellow, white, pink, orange and red flowers appear from summer to autumn. Grow this 1m tall shrub in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (Prostratus Group)

Rosminarus (Prostrate Group)
Rosminarus (Prostratus Group)

This aromatic, 0.15m tall, evergreen, prostrating shrub that has dark green, needle-like leaves, where small, blue, pink, or white blooms appear from spring to early summer. It can be allowed to cascade over the side in containers full of well-drained. multipurpose compost.

RUDBECKIA LACINIATA (Coneflower)

Rudbeckia lacinata
Rudbeckia lacinata

This 2m tall upright, very hardy perennial has dark green leaves. In midsummer to autumn, greenish-yellow, cone-shaped flowers appear. The variety ‘Goldquelle’ produces double, light yellow flowers. Grow it in a container full of moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost.

SANGUISORBA CANADENSIS (Canadian Burnet)

Sanguisorba canadensis
Sanguisorba canadensis

This 2m tall, upright clump-forming perennial that has divided green leaves. In summer to early autumn, white bottlebrush-type flower heads appear. Does well in cold, exposed areas in containers full of moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost.

SENECIO CINERARIA (Cineraria)

Senecio cineraria
Senecio cineraria

This 30cm tall, evergreen bulb, subshrub that is usually grown as an annual. It has deeply lobed, silver leaves and in summer, yellow, daisy-like flowers appear, but the leaves are the main talking point and the flowers should be removed.

Grow it in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost, where they do well in windy, coastal conditions.

THALICTRUM AQUILEGLIFOLIUM (Meadow Rue)

Thalictrum aquilegiifolium
Thalictrum aquilegiifolium

A tall, 1.3m in height, clump-forming perennial that has divided, blue-green leaves. In early to midsummer, slender branched stems that are topped with a fluffy, mauve-pink or white flowers. Grow it in a container full of moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost.

VERONICA AUSTRIACA SUBSPECIES TEUCRIUM (Saw-Leaved Speedwell)

Veronica austriaca
Veronica austriaca

This 60cm tall, mound-forming perennial has oval, grey-green leaves and blue flower spikes that appear in summer. For a deeper blue flowers grow ‘Crater Lake Blue’ as it is both hardy and salt tolerant. Grow this perennial in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost.

VIOLA TRICOLOR (Heartease)

Viola tricolor
Viola tricolor

This annual or short-lived perennial grows up to 1.5cm in height. It has oval, serrated, green leaves and from spring to autumn, a succession of purple, yellow, and white flowers appear. Grow this plant in a container full of well-drained, multipurpose compost where it will suit coastal a garden.

CONCLUSIONS

In this article, plants that can be grown in containers and survive in exposed sites in the full sun has been discussed. There is a wide range of plants that can survive windy and coastal conditions. They will not only provide beauty in terms of flowers they provide but can act as a point of interest.

No matter what is thrown at these plants they will survive nod flourish, as long as you feed and water to the recommended amounts. These tough as boots plant can grace any container flower display, including coastal regions where certain plants struggle to grow.

Grow these plants if you are experiencing regular losses in the area where you live.

If you have any questions or comments, please do so in the comment box below.

Do not get exposed but grow these plants instead.


6 thoughts on “Plants for Exposed Sites in Containers in Full Sun”

  1. I know that germaniums are very hardy. My parents have always had germaniums in their garden. I am living in Norway so it is nice to have some sturdy plants and flowers that can survive the harsh climate in Norway. My wife and I have tried with some plants where we live, but we doesn´t seem to have been blessed with the amount of “green fingers” as our parents. The plants die. But after reading your article I think we have picked the wrong plants for our small garden.

    You have given some good pointers on how to treat such plants which we will apply this year, and hopefully, our plants will survive the winter. 

    Form your list of plants, the ones who stand out is: Musk Mallow, Virginian Stock, Elephant´s Ears and Granny´s Bonnet. They are very beautiful and would look nice in our garden.

    1. Hi Roy

      It is quite common for gardeners to become discouraged as they often pick the wrong plants that will not do well, especially in an exposed site where you will expect to lose more plants than most. I am glad you enjoy my article and this has increased your knowledge of what plant o use that are hardier than most. I commend your selection.

      Thanks

      Antonio

  2. Wow, thank you for taking the time to sort such a beautiful list of plants. I am an absolute newbie when it comes to gardening. And where I’m from, we have tropical monsoon climate. It rains even in summer. But if it doesn’t rain, it can get really hot, like 40-degree Celcius. It’s been just 3months since I’ve started gardening. I have planted calendula and chamomile. Both seem to be doing great here. I don’t trust my gardening skills enough to try them all out. I’ll start with the Meadow Rue. But I’m bookmarking this list.

    1. Hi Mithra

      I am glad I could have been of service. my website is for gardeners new and old so that you can improve your decision making in buying new plants that are suited to your garden and more importantly will do well.

      Thanks

      Antonio

  3. What nostalgia! My grandmother, who lived in Italy near Venice, had entire flower beds of Alchemilla Alpina, I remember it very well! I didn’t like it at all, and in the end I found myself having three pots at home. It will be nostalgia, or the memory of home 🙂

    1. Hi Katie

      It is great to be taken back to a trip down memory and back to a visit to your nonna’s house. I am glad you did change your mind, as I believe plants will grow on you.  I am a great believer that you cannot do wrong as a gardener but you can improve by listening to people like myself who have experienced problems in the garden. Hope you come back again.

      Thanks

      Antonio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *