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Best Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver: Winter, Low-maintenance, Shade, and Full Sun

With its unique climate, Denver offers a broad spectrum of possibilities for outdoor potted plants. You might often ask what plants do well in Denver outdoors. Or perhaps you are curious about the best outdoor potted plants for Denver, low maintenance, shade, or full sun. Denver’s fluctuating temperatures, with its warm summers and frosty winters, require that garden enthusiasts choose plants that can withstand heat and cold.

In Denver, outdoor pots can be adorned with various plants, each suited to different conditions, such as full sun or shade. Some of the best outdoor plants for a home garden in Denver range from winter-resistant varieties to those that thrive under the sun’s glare. Potted plants that survive winter outside in Denver are particularly sought after, ensuring that your garden remains vibrant throughout the changing seasons.

Best Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

Winter-Resistant Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

Several resilient options come to mind when considering plants for your outdoor pots in the cold Denver winter. One of the most robust plants is the Blue Spruce, which is visually appealing and tough enough to endure frosty conditions. Another strong contender is the Japanese Yew, which is known for its adaptability and resistance to harsh winter weather.

Best Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver: Blue spruce with young shoots

Boxwoods also make an excellent choice, being evergreen and easily shaped to fit your gardening aesthetics. Lastly, the Ornamental Kale, with its vivid colors, adds a unique touch to your winter garden, proving that beauty and resilience can go hand in hand in the harsh conditions of Denver.

Low-Maintenance Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

For those who prefer plants that don’t demand much attention, various low-maintenance outdoor potted plants are perfect for Denver’s conditions. Consider the Fountain Grass, which adds a touch of elegance to your space with minimal effort. The Russian Sage is another low-maintenance plant that survives and thrives in less-than-ideal conditions, filling your garden with its beautiful blue flowers.

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Russian sage flowers on a field

With their succulent leaves and star-shaped flowers, Sedums make another excellent, easy-care choice. Finally, the Coneflower, with its vibrant hues, is easy to care for and attracts butterflies, adding life and color to your outdoor space.

Full Sun Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

If your garden area is bathed in sunlight and you’re wondering about the best outdoor potted plants for Denver’s full sun, there are several fantastic options. Lavender, known for its delightful fragrance and beautiful blooms, thrives in bright, sunny locations.

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Colorful petunia flowers

Petunias are another full-sun-loving flower, filling pots with vibrant, trumpet-shaped flowers throughout the warmer months. Marigolds, with their bright orange and yellow blooms, are visually appealing and have the added benefit of repelling pests. Zinnias, available in various colors, is another robust, sun-loving flower that will vibrate any sunny Denver garden.

Shade Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

When considering the shady spots in your Denver garden, certain plants are particularly suited for these cooler, less sun-drenched areas. Hostas, with their lush foliage, thrive in shaded spots, offering a green oasis in your pots. Ferns, such as the Boston fern, are another great choice, bringing a touch of wilderness to your urban garden.

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Astilbe, with its feathery flowers, is also suitable for shaded areas, providing color and texture. Coral Bells (Heuchera) are remarkable for their colorful foliage, which ranges from lime green to deep purple, and they flourish in the shade, making them a delightful addition to your potted garden.

Hardy Evergreen Shrubs for Winter Season in Denver

Choosing hardy evergreen shrubs is essential for maintaining a touch of green in your Denver garden throughout the frosty winter season. Boxwoods are versatile shrubs that remain green all year, adding continuous color to your landscape. With their varied shapes and sizes, Junipers are robust and can withstand the harsh Denver winter.

The Yew shrub is adaptable and maintains its foliage throughout the year, making it an excellent choice for a winter garden. Lastly, the Holly, with its glossy green leaves and bright red berries, is another steadfast shrub that endures winter gracefully while adding a festive touch.

Drought-Tolerant Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

Denver’s climate often requires plants that can withstand periods of drought. Thus, having drought-tolerant outdoor potted plants becomes essential. Consider the Agave, which is stylish, highly resilient, and requires minimal water. With their thick, water-storing leaves, Sedums are perfectly adapted to dry conditions.

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Agave plants in a nursery

The Blanket Flower, with its vivid, warm-colored blooms, is another wonderful, water-efficient choice. With its airy blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian Sage is also a durable option that can endure prolonged periods without water, ensuring your garden remains vibrant even in drier conditions.

Colorful Winter-Blooming Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

Maintaining a colorful garden in Denver during winter is a delightful challenge. Pansies are popular, as they bloom in a spectrum of colors even in colder temperatures. Hellebores, also known as Christmas roses, offer beautiful blooms that can withstand the frost, bringing color to the winter garden. Witch Hazel shrubs provide vibrant yellow flowers in winter, adding a bright touch to the garden. Finally, Camellias bloom with large, eye-catching flowers amid winter, ensuring that your garden pots remain full of life and color throughout the season.

Native Perennials for Low-Maintenance Outdoor Pots in Denver

When enhancing your Denver garden with low-maintenance native perennials, several local beauties thrive with minimal care. Penstemons, native to the area, are durable and add a splash of color with their tubular flowers. Black-eyed Susans are another perennial native that blooms with vibrant, yellow flowers, needing little attention to thrive.

Columbines, the state flower of Colorado, are beautiful and adapted to the local climate, making them a low-maintenance choice. Lastly, the Rocky Mountain Iris, with its elegant blooms, is another native perennial that will enhance the beauty of your outdoor pots with ease.

Fragrant Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver Gardens

Fragrance adds an extra dimension to the garden, making it visually and aromatically alive. With its soothing scent, lavender is an excellent choice for Denver gardens, providing both beauty and aroma. Jasmine is another fragrant option, filling your outdoor space with a sweet and welcoming perfume.

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Gardener transplants lavender plant

Gardenias, with their creamy white flowers and delightful scent, are perfect for enhancing the aromatic appeal of your garden. Peonies also make a wonderful addition, their large, lush flowers emitting a subtle, enchanting fragrance that captivates the senses.

Cold-Tolerant Succulents for Outdoor Containers in Denver

In the brisk climate of Denver, cold-tolerant succulents can be a marvelous addition to outdoor containers. The Hen and Chicks succulent is a fantastic choice, being hardy and capable of withstanding frosty conditions.

The Stonecrop is another robust option, with varieties that can endure the cold and continue to add interest and texture to your garden. Sedums are versatile, capable of surviving cooler temperatures, and add a touch of elegance to your outdoor spaces. Lastly, the Yucca, with its sharp leaves and striking appearance, is another succulent well-suited to the cooler Denver climate.

Ornamental Grasses for Full Sun Outdoor Pots in Denver

Ornamental grasses that thrive in full sun are an exceptional choice to add texture and movement to your Denver garden pots. With its gracefully arching leaves and feathery flower spikes, Fountain Grass does exceptionally well in sun-drenched locations. Blue Oat Grass, with its striking blue-grey foliage, adds a unique touch and thrives under the sun’s full glare.

Bermuda Grass, while commonly used for lawns, can also be used as ornamental grass, providing a lush green appearance in your pots. Lastly, Zoysia Grass is another full sun-loving variety known for its resistance to drought and heat, and it beautifully complements other plants in your outdoor pots.

Winter-Flowering Bulbs for Outdoor Containers in Denver

Having winter-flowering bulbs in your outdoor containers in Denver means that your garden remains alive with color even during the frosty months. Snowdrops are a magnificent choice as they bloom even in the coldest winter months, bringing life to your garden.

With their vibrant hues, crocuses are another delightful bulb that pops up during winter, adding bursts of color to your outdoor space. Winter Aconites emanate a bright, cheerful yellow, warming the garden ambiance amid frost. Daffodils, too, can be nurtured to bloom in late winter, heralding the approach of spring with their bright, trumpet-like flowers.

Compact Conifers for Small Spaces in Denver Gardens

Compact conifers are a wonderful addition to Denver gardens, especially when space is limited. Dwarf Alberta Spruce, with its petite size and elegant shape, is a fantastic conifer that fits small spaces perfectly. The Mugo Pine is another compact variety, offering rich green needles and maintaining a manageable size.

Junipers, such as the Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper, also suit small spaces, providing ground cover and adding beauty without overcrowding. Lastly, with its lush green foliage and upright growth habit, the Hinoki Cypress is another compact conifer ideal for limited spaces in Denver gardens.

Heat-Tolerant Annuals for Full Sun Outdoor Pots in Denver

Choosing heat-tolerant annuals is key to ensuring your garden pots remain vibrant during Denver’s hotter months. Marigolds are excellent in this regard, their bright blooms standing up well to intense sun. Zinnias, too, is wonderful for full-sun outdoor pots, offering a riot of colors and being highly heat tolerant.

Portulaca, or Moss Rose, is another resilient annual, blooming profusely even in the most challenging hot and dry conditions. Lastly, consider Petunias, which not only withstand heat but also fill the garden with colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers throughout the summer.

Edible Herbs and Vegetables for Winter Container Gardening in Denver

Having edible herbs and vegetables in your winter container garden in Denver is both practical and rewarding. Kale is a superb option, being frost tolerant and providing fresh greens throughout the winter. Spinach, too, is a cold-hardy vegetable that can be harvested multiple times during the colder months.

For herbs, consider Rosemary, which is not only aromatic but also quite resistant to the cold. Parsley is another resilient herb that can be grown in pots, offering fresh leaves to enhance your culinary creations during the winter months.

Summary of Best Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

CategoriesBest Outdoor Potted Plants
Winter-Resistant Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverBlue Spruce, Japanese Yew, Boxwoods, Ornamental Kale
Low-Maintenance Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverFountain Grass, Russian Sage, Sedums, Coneflower
Full Sun Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverLavender, Petunias, Marigolds, Zinnias
Shade Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverHostas, Ferns, Astilbe, Coral Bells
Hardy Evergreen Shrubs for Winter Season in DenverBoxwoods, Junipers, Yew, Holly
Drought-Tolerant Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverAgave, Sedums, Blanket Flower, Russian Sage
Colorful Winter-Blooming Outdoor Potted Plants for DenverPansies, Hellebores, Witch Hazel, Camellias
Native Perennials for Low-Maintenance Outdoor Pots in DenverPenstemons, Black-eyed Susans, Columbines, Rocky Mountain Iris
Fragrant Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver GardensLavender, Jasmine, Gardenias, Peonies
Cold-Tolerant Succulents for Outdoor Containers in DenverHen and Chicks, Stonecrop, Sedums, Yucca
Ornamental Grasses for Full Sun Outdoor Pots in DenverFountain Grass, Blue Oat Grass, Bermuda Grass, Zoysia Grass
Winter-Flowering Bulbs for Outdoor Containers in DenverSnowdrops, Crocuses, Winter Aconites, Daffodils
Compact Conifers for Small Spaces in Denver GardensDwarf Alberta Spruce, Mugo Pine, Junipers, Hinoki Cypress
Heat-Tolerant Annuals for Full Sun Outdoor Pots in DenverMarigolds, Zinnias, Portulaca, Petunias
Edible Herbs and Vegetables for Winter Container Gardening in DenverKale, Spinach, Rosemary, Parsley

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Best Outdoor Potted Plants for Denver

What Planters Can Stay Outside in Winter?

Choose planters made of materials like stone, fiberglass, or high-quality plastic that can withstand harsh winter temperatures. Ensure they have adequate drainage to prevent water accumulation and freezing, which could damage the planters.

What Potted Plants Are Best for Full Sun?

Plants like Lavender, Marigolds, and Petunias thrive in full sun, making them ideal for sunny locations. These plants are well-suited to handle the intense sunlight and heat, ensuring a vibrant and lively display in your outdoor pots.

Do Terracotta Pots Break in Winter?

Terracotta pots are porous and can absorb water, making them susceptible to cracking in freezing temperatures when the water expands as it freezes. It might be best to avoid leaving them outside, unprotected, during the harsh winter months.

What Can I Use for a Winter Planter?

Consider using evergreens, winter-flowering plants, or decorative branches and ornaments to create a winter planter. Incorporating elements like pine cones, berries, and winter foliage can also help maintain an attractive appearance throughout the colder months.


Cultivating a vibrant garden in Denver’s variable climate is thoroughly achievable with a thoughtful selection of plants and planters. From winter-resistant varieties to full sun-loving blooms, many options are available to ensure your garden remains lively and beautiful throughout the year.

Essential considerations such as the choice of planters, the suitability of plants for varying sunlight exposure, and the ability to withstand Denver’s diverse climate conditions play a crucial role in the successful upkeep of an outdoor potted garden. Armed with the knowledge of plants that flourish in various conditions—be it the cold, full sun, shade, or drought—one can curate a garden that survives and thrives in the unique Denver environment, providing endless joy and beauty every season.


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