17 Best Plants That Work Perfectly Around the Pool

The beautiful poolside of a waterfall with rocks
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A few strategically chosen plants can turn any boring concrete pool into a lush tropical retreat.

Plants that do best around a pool will thrive in the more humid environment near the water, and almost all of those on this list are full-sun plants that do well in containers. We've also included a few recommendations for part-shade-loving plants as well as a couple of tropical trees in case you are able to dig right into the soil near your pool area.

If you want a more tropical vibe to your poolside and you live in a place where temperatures drop into the freezing or near-freezing zone, consider whether you have the space to move containers to a sheltered or indoor area during the colder months. If not, you'll need to stick to plants that can overwinter in your zone.

1
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Echeveria (Echeveria)

Echevaria in a drought-tolerant environment

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Echeveria comes in a number of sizes, colors, and varieties, and is an ideal main plant poolside due to its toughness and drought-resistance, but also because its colors—blues, greys, pinks, and lavenders—complement the blue-green of a pool landscape beautifully.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 9-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining.
2
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Grapevine (Vitis vinifera)

Courtyard with gate, from above stretches a grape vine with partially ripe berries on summer sunny day without people

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This one won't be an overnight landscaping star, but could become an incredible focal point to your pool garden, since it will grow not only generous, soft green leaves but provide grapes as well.

A grapevine can be trained in a number of shapes, and is especially attractive if you train it over an arbor, which could then provide a shady, green spot near the pool and an ideal place to add a table and enjoy a meal. This plant is common in the U.S. but can damage trees if left unattended.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 2-10.
  • Water: More in spring and when young, less as it ages.
  • Soil Needs: Rich and well-drained.
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Patio Roses (Rosa Rosa)

Flamingo with a background of roses and the garden pool in summer

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New rose varieties are tougher than you may expect—look for those that are advertised as being "easy care."

While they shouldn't be in a spot that will get drenched with chlorinated or salty water, as long as they get regular watering and plenty of sun, most patio roses will grow well and add a pop of color and a delightful fragrance to your pool area.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 5-9, but depends on rose variety.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acidic.
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Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

Life buoy hanging on wall partly covered by trailing rosemary plant

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Rosemary is commonly used in hedges and planters around pools because it's super-easy to care for, grows well in sunny, dry conditions, and has a lovely light scent when the sun shines on it.

This plant will overwinter well in places that freeze (lightly)—it can take temperatures as low as 20 degrees F but longer, harder freezes may kill it, so it's an ideal candidate for bringing into a covered space or garage if your local temperatures get that low.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zone: Zone 7-10 (but some cold-hard varieties are available).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Light, well-draining.
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Stonecrop (Sedum)

Close up of Sedum or Spanish stonecrop plant on volcanic stones background.

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If you are considering a succulent garden, you'll definitely want to include some of these small, drought-tolerant plants. They'll spread over soil fairly quickly, creating an attractive under-layer for taller plants, or spread between succulents that are more vertically oriented.

Since there are over 600 varieties, you can really play with color and texture with stonecrop, complimenting and contrasting with other plants, rocks, art, or even your pool patio furniture. They're all quite hardy and need plenty of sun, making them an ideal pool area complement.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 3-10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full to half-sun.
  • Soil Needs: Any soil.
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Hosta (Hosta)

A shot of some hosta plants in terracotta pots.

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If you have a shady spot in your pool area, hostas are ideal, since they have beautiful, thick leaves of various colors and variegations depending on the type. Near water, they lend a tropical vibe even though they handle freezing winter temperatures just fine.

They prefer damp environments and although the deer (and slugs) like them, they are otherwise quite hardy. Elegant purple flowers rise from the leaves in summer.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 3-9.
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich potting soil.
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Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata)

Plants On Pink Fashion Concept. Palm Lover. Canary Island

Evgeniya Porechenskaya / Getty Images

Agave is a desert plant and some varieties are hard and spiky, the opposite of what you want around a pool where people are relaxing and swimming, so look for a soft-leaved variety. The attenuata agave has a circular orientation of flexible, soft leaves, and a lovely light green color that fits well in a cactus or succulent pool garden.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7-11.
  • Light: Full sun (can take part sun).
  • Soil Needs: Light, well-draining.
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Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Beautiful Staghorn Fern (elkhorn fern / Platycerium species)

Thais Cineviva / Getty Images

While staghorns can't take direct sunlight, they like lots of bright, indirect light and could do very well in a hanging basket or mounted on a wall in a pool area since they love moisture.

Staghorn ferns absorb nutrients through their long fronds, so they need to be both soaked at the root and misted (so a bit high maintenance), but it's worth it for their beauty. This plant is considered invasive in Hawaii.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 9-12.
  • Sun Exposure: Bright indirect sunlight.
  • Soil Needs: Mounted on a board with moss.
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Geranium (Pelargonium)

Three large pots of blooming geranium flowers in pink, white, and red with green foliage sitting on the deck beside a turquoise blue swimming pool.

Scott Jantzen / Getty Images

Hardy, sun-loving geraniums are a no-brainer when it comes to an ideal plant for a big pot sitting on a pool deck (or a wall of hanging pots filled with the blooming plants).

Their big, colorful, long-lasting blooms add splashes of bright red, pink, or white to your pool area, and when not in bloom, their subtly patterned, dark green leaves are beautiful on their own.

There are climbing geraniums and other varieties that are more like shrubs, so you can choose the type that fits best in your pool area.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 10-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained.
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Kumquat Tree (Citrus japonica)

Kumquats tree selling on street

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Kumquats are a surprising little fruit. They can be made into jam, or smashed with sugar for a bitter orangey cocktail starter. Or you can eat them whole (skins on!). They also look pretty hanging from their tree—bright orange orbs in front of a green profusion of leaves.

Kumquats self-fertilize so you can get one tree that can grow 8-15 feet tall. They look great in pots around a pool but will need to be brought inside or covered if temperatures drop too much in winter.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 10-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Lighter, well-draining.
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Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Orange trumpet honeysuckle blossming in sunlight

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Honeysuckle smells glorious, and can grow tall—up to 10 or even 15 feet. That's why it's often used on fencing, which is where it could be ideal since most pools have (sometimes less-than-attractive) fences around them for safety reasons.

Covering that ugly fence with a sun-loving vine that bears pretty, delicious-smelling flowers is a thoughtful workaround.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 4-9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Lighter, well-draining.
12
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Banana Tree (Musa Basjoo)

clear water in a nice swimming pool waiting for people to come. the pool is surrounded by banana trees and shows the reflection of the trees in the surface of the blue water

Frank Rothe / Getty Images

This type of cold-hardy banana tree is actually a large plant—the "trunk" is a pseudostem made up of bound banana leaves. And while it looks quite tropical, ideal on a pool patio area, this particular variety can withstand freezing temperatures down to -10 degrees.

Deer don't like it and it withstands drought well—it has a shallow matted root system which spreads, but it's not considered invasive, although the roots can be hard to remove, so this one is best in a pot.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zone: Zones 4-11 (for cold hardy varieties).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, well draining.
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Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Dracaena fragrans (L.) Ker-GawI. in garden

smallroomphoto / Getty Images

You'll often see these as houseplants, but they can thrive outdoors in shadier areas as well during the warmer months. They would create a lovely backdrop in a shady spot and look elegant when planted in big colorful pots—like others on this list, these will give a tropical vibe even in places that have a cold winter; just bring them inside.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 10-12.
  • Sun Exposure: Lower to medium indirect light, filtered sun.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, well draining.
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Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)

Bunny Ears Cactus

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This cactus is a cute one, and not too prickly, making it ideal for a succulent container garden near a pool area. They're also popular houseplants. So they can simply be moved inside if it gets close to freezing temperatures where you live.

The bunny ears cactus is native to North America, but can be invasive in areas warm enough to support its growth year-round.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 7-10.
  • Sun Exposure Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining.
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African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona)

 Euphorbia trigona cactus (commonly known as African milk tree, cathedral cactus, Abyssinian euphorbia, and high chaparall) against a white painted stucco wall

Simon McGill / Getty Images

This is a great-looking addition to your succulent or dry-garden. It will also pair well with the stonecrop and other succulents since they will grow around the base of this more upright plant.

In cold-winter areas this one will need to come inside, but during the growing season it grows fast and easily, up to 2 feet per year.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 9-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Lots of direct sunlight.
  • Soil Needs: Will tolerate many soil types, but sandy or sand-augmented is ideal.
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Common Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

 Jasmine flower (Jasminum officinale), blooming with green leaves background

Martin Leber / Getty Images

There are over 200 varieties of true jasmine, so you can research them to find the one best suited for your location—if you are tropical or near-tropical you'll have plenty of options.

Common jasmine, aka hardy jasmine, is a tougher species that can grow well even in places that freeze lightly in the winter. If you are concerned with losing your plants in winter, just keep them in pots in a covered, protected space for the coldest months.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 7-10.
  • Sun Exposure: Lots of direct sunlight.
  • Soil Needs: Will tolerate many soil types, but well-draining is important.
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Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis)

A photo of bougainvillea flowers against the blue of a swimming pool

dngood / Getty Images

If you've ever spent time in the tropical regions of the U.S., the Caribbean, or Central America, you'll recognize the beautiful bright pink blooms of this climbing plant.

Bougainvillea is a tough plant that thrives in full sun and will bloom year-round in the warmest locations—but if you live in a place that cools off in the winter it will go dormant. It can endure lower temperatures and even light freezes, but a hard freeze will kill its roots. If you live in a place where that's the norm, keep these in big containers and move them inside the garage come late autumn.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 9-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Any soil, even poor.

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.