Q: Which colorful plants work well in a small garden?


A: Small garden beds or a few potted plants on the porch are great options for those living in patio homes and apartments.

Small statured plants may be labeled as dwarf or ‘nana,’ meaning they grow more slowly. In the Houston climate, they may still outgrow the information noted on the plant tag, so check with your gardening friends or visit public gardens to see the mature plants in person before purchasing.

Here are some of the best diminutive yet showy annuals often on display in the summertime at Mercer Botanic Gardens.

Vinca Soiree Kawaii White Peppermint (Catharanthus hybrid), which also comes in a light purple form, is a cute mounding plant that grows up to 10 inches tall with a 15-inch spread. They love sun and good drainage, so they are perfect for a garden pot.

Accompany vinca with a deep maroon, narrow-leafed Alternanthera named Red Threads with 12-inch mounds of foliage. In mild years, this will be perennial.

If you love Mexican heather but have limited space, the Pink Shimmer Cuphea or the FloriGlory series, which mature to around 15 inches tall and wide, are wonderful alternatives for the front of a border.

Add a perennial groundcover plant using herbs, like thyme or oregano, or a border of Gem boxwoods.These tiny, luscious plants and flowers will encourage you to get up close with your small garden and give ample opportunity to nurture nature’s beauty, even in a small space.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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