The Best Plants for Swimming Pool Landscaping
The key to smart poolside garden design is to find strong plants that can withstand your pool’s microclimate, are easy to maintain, and still look good. The plants you choose to surround your pool should be carefully researched before any buying or digging happens. A heated pool can raise humidity levels, and intense sunlight can fry nearby landscaping. Also, keep in mind that plants will likely get splashed with chlorine and other pool and spa chemicals. Choosing the Best Landscaping for Pool Areas
- 01of 18 Banana Tree Banana tree beside a pool. Em/Getty Images If you desire a tropical look for your pool area and live in a mild, frost-free climate, banana trees (Musa) instantly create the mood you may be looking for. Bananas are fast-growing herbaceous perennials or trees with tropical-looking long, broad leaves. Plant them in a spot safe from winds because those great-looking leaves can get ripped-up easily if not near a wall, fence, or protected by neighboring plants. What Are the Best Trees for a Pool Landscape
- 02of 18 Hawaiian Hibiscus Fotosearch/Getty Images Put on your hula skirt and tuck a heavenly hibiscus behind your ear: it is luau time. If you are able to grow Hawaii’s state flower in your zone, then go for it—you have many species to choose from, with dreamy names like “White Wings,” “Crown of Bohemia,” “Kona Princess,” and “Flamenco Flame.” While hibiscus traditionally is not used in floral arrangements, there is a trick to using one in an arrangement or alone in a vase for a few hours in the evening. Pick one during the day while it is in full bloom, then put it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh and open in a vase for a short time period, like at a dinner party.
- 03of 18 Bird of Paradise Hans-Edmund Glomme / EyeEm / Getty Images If you are thinking of going the tropical oasis route, a bird of paradise ( Strelitzia reginae ) will get you there quickly. It looks similar to a banana plant, has an upright growth habit, and 2-foot-long leaves. Like the banana, Strelitzia reginae needs shelter from strong winds or its leaves can rip. Bird of paradise is an excellent choice for poolscaping — it is not shed and strong enough to tolerate splashing (in moderation, or course).
- 04 or 18 Ornamental grasses Orchidpoet / Getty Images Ornamental grasses are excellent choices for poolside landscaping. They are easy to care for, not too messy, grow quickly, blend nicely with other plants, and create a striking form, day or night. This particular ornamental grass is Miscanthus sinensis “Strictus,” commonly called zebra grass or sometimes called porcupine grass. Its horizontal stripes give it an exotic look that goes well with tropical landscaping.
- In the right conditions, Cyperus papyrus (Egyptian papyrus, papyrus sedge or papyrus grass) can create a mood—lush, tropical, and exotic. Papyrus likes water and can live in bogs and shallow ponds. It also does fairly well in a clay soil that has been amended—the clay helps it retain dampness, which it loves. Pair it with tall and skinny Equisetum “Horsetail,” which also likes water and has an exotic feel.
- 06of 18 Angel’s Trumpet Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr/CC by 2.0 The name alone could have you ordering one of these heavenly looking plants sight unseen. Brugmansia, commonly known as angel’s trumpet, also has a heavenly scent, making it a stunning pool-area shrub or tree. In cool-summer climates, like near the coast, Brugmansia can be planted in full or partial sun. 10 Messy Plants You Don’t Want Near the Pool
- 07of 18 Echeveria J Brew/Flickr/CC by 2.0 Some of these Mexican natives feel to the touch like a cross between felt and velvet. What is not to love? Echeverias are succulent perennials that come in lovely greens, pinks, reds and yellows. These plants are wonderful for rock gardens and are drought tolerant. They would also be a nice addition to planters near your pool or spa, mixed in with other succulents, and some ornamental grasses for an attractive, low-maintenance display. In the right zones (mostly southwestern) they can be grown as shrubs, reaching a height of up to 2 feet (60 cm) with 4-inch-long leaves.
miheco/Flickr/CC by 2.0
Its common name—kangaroo paw—gives a big hint as to where this popular perennial hails from: Australia. Anigozanthos flavida and its hybrids are a slim and graceful looking plant, but it is the flowers that are the real appeal to kangaroo paws. Striking and curved like kangaroo paws, the perennials comes in many varieties and lovely colors, including:
- “Bush Gold”: lemon yellow
- “Bush Lantern”: bright yellow
- “Bush Pearl”: bubblegum pink
- “Bush Baby”: a blend of red, orange and yellow
- “Bush Emerald”: green flowers with yellow and orange
- “Bush Ranger”: clear red blooms
Martha Washington Geraniums
Pamla J. Eisenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0
Mention geraniums as a striking poolside plant and you might get a blank stare or a big yawn. But for vibrant, beautiful color that lasts from spring to fall—bascially the time you will be using your pool—nothing beats the hybrids called Martha Washington or Lady Washington geraniums.
The geraniums sold in most big-box stores and garden centers are actually Pelargoniums. If you happen to see some of the more unusual Martha Washington colors—all variegated—go ahead and buy it. That variety is usually only available for about six weeks or so in late spring. Since it grows quickly, there is no point in buying a quart-size container or larger. The 4-inch ones are all you need and are easier to plant in the ground.
Marthas, aka regal pelargoniums, sometimes look like exotic tropical flowers and orchids. They can be found in shades of pink, magenta, fuschia, red, white, violet and lavender. Like many flower hybrids, Lady Washington pelargoniums have great cultivar names:
- “Raspberry Swirl”
- “Elegance Lavender”
- “Elegance Purple Bi-Color”
- “First Blush”
- “Cherry Orchard”
- “Bold Candy”
- “All My Love”
- “Hazel Masterpiece”
- “Lilac Elaine”
- “Oriental Delight”
- 10 or 18 Proteas Lisa Hallett Taylor These orange tropical beauties are proteas and look like a cross between orange pincushion (Leucospermum) “Hawaiian Sunburst” and Banksia intergrifolia. Banksias hail originally from Australia. Proteas are usually stiff and prickly to the touch but also hardy and long-lasting. Add other tropicals—like hibiscus, cannas, and low-growing palms—with proteas for a tropical paradise.