Outdoor Living, Plants

8 Best Shrubs and Trees for Containers

shrubs for containers

In this article, we’re going to talk about the best shrubs for containers. I love using greenery outside in pots and containers. We have used them in places like between our garage doors, around our pool, and next to our front and back doors. Shrubs in containers add a variety of visual interests to the exterior of your home. They also can create a lot of curb appeal.

When it comes to flowers, I never have any luck, but we seem to do very well with shrubs. We have actually had several of our green shrubs/plants for years. They have even traveled with us from a few different homes.

Here are some of our goto shrubs for containers along with some others that will do very well.


If you have been following us for any time at all, you know boxwoods are our favorite. We have found that they are truly the hardiest plant around. We have several planted in pots around our home. Boxwoods are the most versatile and adaptable shrub out there. Our favorite boxwood that we tend to use lots is the Wintergem or Wintergreen boxwood.



Ferns are not only a beautiful way to add greenery but do very well in pots. The Korean Rock Fern grows best in a container and also tolerates heat and humidity. It is important to keep ferns on a covered porch and not in direct sunlight.

ferns in containers


Lemon Tree

Although we do not have a lemon tree, I have always wanted one. This may be my next shrub to plant in a pot. They are so adorable! They need lots of sun and warmth. It would be wise to leave out in warmer months and bring in to the heat in the winter. Not only will you have a beautiful plant, but you will also have some yummy lemons to use.

Little Giant Arborvitae

We have a few of these out by our garage and they look great. It works as a great vertical accent paired with some flowers or even as a stand-alone just as we have it here. I think the round shape of this shrub looks great in a tall pot.

Barn Light | Planter


Hydrangeas work great for growing in larger pots as long as they receive enough sunlight and moisture. They require a little bigger of a pot because their roots are aggressive and quickly fit small containers. One that is at least 2 feet wide will work perfectly. The beautiful blooms of hydrangea will be a wonderful accent to any outside porch or area.

hydrangea in container

Dwarf Alberta Spruce

An Alberta spruce makes a perfect choice for a container considering it is slow growing. Its mature size can get 5-6 feet, but keeping it trimmed back and pruned will eliminate this. This evergreen will add a touch of greenery that will work great in a covered area outside.

Recurve Privet

We always get asked about our recurve privet plants that are situated next to our swing, and absolutely love them! We planted both three years ago after we moved into our current home. They have been thriving ever since! They need full to partial sun, so the back covered porch is perfect.

We love the look they give with their green leaves and full shape. Making sure to keep them trimmed is important so they will not outgrow their containers.


Japanese Maple

A Japanese Maple is normally seen in elegant outdoor seating areas. It adds lots of sophistication with its beautiful color. Its small stature and slow growth rate make it a great candidate for growing in a pot.

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  • Reply Shelly

    I love all of them! My sister and brother in law live in the Austin, TX area, they have lemon trees and lime trees growing in pots, they have had very good luck with these trees producing fruit. Just curious to know if you use native soil or bagged soil, or a combination? Thank you.

    June 7, 2019 at 11:02 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hi Shelly. That is awesome. I would love to have a lemon tree or lime tree. We’ve always used bagged potting soil. So far it has worked well for us.

      June 7, 2019 at 12:40 pm
  • Reply Cheryl

    I live in Texas where summers are brutal. Do you hand water all of your potted plants? Or, do you have an irrigation system?

    September 29, 2019 at 1:13 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hello Cheryl! Yes, Im sure it is brutal there. We just hand water everything, but an irrigation system would be nice!

      September 30, 2019 at 3:45 pm
      • Reply Julie

        I live in WI we would have to bring in any plants during winter right, because there roots wouldnt be underground.

        August 10, 2020 at 5:19 pm
        • Reply Joyce

          You could put the planter on a patio and make a hole in the patio under it . Then cut out the bottom of the planter . The plant would root into the ground on its own . Of course if you decide to move it it would be a major chore .
          I plan to do this with a gigantic pot on my lawn . They do this on the big estates in England with huge trees and evergreens .

          July 14, 2021 at 5:54 pm
    • Reply Lisa Wolfe

      Can you plant hydrangeas in containers for the summer and then put them in the ground in the fall? I understand the fall is the best time to plant shrubs.

      July 23, 2021 at 3:05 pm

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