Martha Stewart's favorite plants for outdoor planters, revealed

Martha Stewart's favorite plants for outdoor planters may surprise you – and they're guaranteed to delight

An arrangement of Terracotta pots in an English garden, planted with succulent plants
(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography/Getty)

Martha Stewart's favorite plants for outdoor planters may surprise you if you were expecting lots of traditional flowers. While many associate Martha's gardening style with soft blooms like petunias, some of her all-time favorites for pots are actually evergreens. 

We like how refreshing these container gardening ideas are – and most of the plants are very easy to grow. 

Martha Stewart's favorite plants for outdoor planters

If you're looking for interesting options for your patio pots, these suggestions from Martha Stewart are guaranteed to get you inspired. 

1. Pansies

Pansies in a pot on garden table

(Image credit: Westend61/Getty)

In an episode of Ask Martha, Martha shared a very simple and effective tip for planting up oversized outdoor planters – soft, colorful blooms in the middle, and a cascading evergreen plant on the edges to add a bit of texture and interest. 

Pansies in particular are Martha's floral centerpiece favorites – they 'are not very expensive' and easy to care for, and Martha prefers the really big, 'giant pansies' for creating maximum impact in garden planter ideas

2. Succulents 

An arrangement of Terracotta pots in an English garden, planted with succulent plants

(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography/Getty)

Martha's love of succulent plants is long-standing, and she praised them as far back as 2013, saying in an episode of Throwback Thursday that the great thing about these plants is that they are 'long-lived, don't take much care at all, and you know that if you forget to water them, in a week or two they'll still be alive'. Martha again demonstrated her penchant for big planters by planting up a large strawberry pot with succulents. 

More recently, Martha showed off a huge Jade plant in an episode of QVC. Jade plants are often thought of as some of the best indoor plants, but as Martha demonstrates, they make excellent outdoor pot plants during the summer. 

3. Ferns

Traditional water garden in Cambodia with ferns

(Image credit: Joanne Eastope / Alamy Stock Photo)

Ferns are some of the best shade-loving plants, and it's worth exploring the many varieties that thrive in containers. Speaking on QVC, Martha showed a beautiful outdoor planter arrangement including a Bird's Nest fern – quite different-looking from your typical ferns, with broader leaves. 'It's green planting – you don't have to have petunias in every pot, you can do a whole display of green plants,' she said. We think this elegant-looking fern would look really great as part of Japanese garden ideas

4. Selaginella

Selaginella evergreen plants in terracotta pots in old wooden pot holder

(Image credit: Lindsey Stock / Alamy Stock Photo)

Want to add a bit of texture and trailing decoration to your planter arrangement? Martha recommends Selaginella – she has shown it planted together with both ferns and pansies. Selaginella is an unusual plant – it looks a bit like a moss and also a bit like a fern and can be used as either ground cover or a trailing plant in a pot. Sometimes referred to as spike moss, it spreads easily and does equally well indoors or outdoors – it just needs moist soil.

5. Sago palm

Cycad pot plant in a pink building background

(Image credit: ADDICTIVE STOCK CREATIVES / Alamy Stock Photo)

Martha has documented her devotion to sago palms, also known as cycads, in a recent blog post. She describes just how easy these palm-like plants are to grow in containers, demonstrating several specimens that are many years old. 'I have many, many cycads', Martha writes, and, remarkably, many of them she has propagated herself. 'My collection of sago palms, or cycads, were cut as pups from a mother sago some time ago,' she says. Cycads look particularly stunning when incorporated into backyard pool ideas too. 

Martha truly is the queen of blending indoor and outdoor planting schemes, explaining that 'during summer, all my large potted tropical plants are displayed outdoors in various locations around the farm.' If your summers are warm, why not expand your outdoor planter scheme to include plants that are indoors in winter? 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.