Low Maintenance Plants and Bulbs for the San Diego Patio


After a busy day at work, there’s nothing like pouring yourself a cold drink and heading out to relax on your patio. You want to enjoy your patio’s beauty, enjoy both the hardscape and the soft, with plants that add color and texture with little care. All patio gardens require some maintenance, but you can achieve low-care loveliness with plants requiring relatively little watering, pruning and fertilizing.

Similar Climes

Plants native to climates similar to that of San Diego (dry soil, mild winter, and otherwise warm conditions) tend to flourish here. If a plant thrives in Australia, the Mediterranean and certain parts of Asia and South America, it will likely do well in sunny San Diego.

Climbing Plants

Plant vines along a fence or outside wall for beauty and privacy. If your neighbor’s patios aren’t visually desirable, climbing plants provide screening. Star jasmine provides fragrance along with concealment, while the red blooms of Passiflora Scarlet Flame draws butterflies and hummingbirds to your patio, making for a touch of whimsy and surprise when they visit your patio.

Colorful Container Gardens

Patio gardens inevitably focus on containers, and succulents spell success in planters. Choose among various succulent colors, forms and textures to contrast and complement not only one another, but your patio’s hardscape. You can also coordinate the coloring of decks, paving and furniture with succulent shades. Another colorful choice for containers is alstroemeria. This lush, tropical evergreen is available in nearly every color imaginable and does well in a wide range of light. Place the blooms in bud vases for a delightful home accent.

If you like container trees, consider the Swan Hill variety of olive. While it doesn’t produce fruit, it’s attractive and almost maintenance-free. If you’re looking to add some color to your patio, add a shock of pink with the tall grass hairawn muhly.


When it’s time for bulb planting in your San Diego patio garden, go beyond tulips. Traditional bulb plants will grow, but why not choose something more exotic, and possibly edible? Here are a few possibilities:

  • Freesia – Add various shades to your patio garden with this fragrant flower.
  • Golden Dawn narcissus –This winter favorite produces multiple yellow flowers per stem.
  • Garlic – Grow your own garlic on your patio, like hardneck garlic brown tempest that has a light brown clove and purple markings.

Plant ’em and forget ’em truly applies to daylilies. Established plantings need weekly watering, but otherwise thrive.

Made In the Shade

For shady areas, consider AmeriHybrid begonias and caladiums – either singly or together – to ensure your patio stays colorful year-round. Both species produce huge blooms, with the caladiums sporting flower-bright leaves.

Flower Carpet Roses

Want to cover a large area of your garden with color but little fuss? Try flower carpet roses. Available in white, yellow and a variety of pink and reddish hues, they are covered in blooms for 10 months of the year. 

Relaxation, fragrance, and beauty – what more could you want?