I'm a big fan of the backyard patios. But I'm more obsessed with privacy. After all, isn't that the whole point of having a backyard? And how else can you guarantee a private space that's both functional and aesthetic without plants?
The simple answer, you can't:
However, there's one problem. Most people rarely have enough space in their patios to plant those beautiful tall trees. And the small plants just can't shield you from prying on-lookers or neighbors.
To solve both problems, I've listed seventeen tall potted plants for privacy on your patio, deck, or even the balcony. All as a result of extensive research and a recollection of my own experience.
So, you can rest assured that you'll find four or five plants that suit your specific circumstances if not all.
Important Tips to Remember
- Choice of growing containers: For most container plantings, the main considerations include eye appeal, convenience, and cost. However, for tall potted plants for privacy, you should choose heavier and stronger pot materials to prevent the pot from blowing over or keep the roots from breaking the pot.
- Winter protection: When the temperatures drop some plants will be drastically affected while some shade the leaves and re-grow when the temperature rises. Take note of each plant and move those that are susceptible to freezing indoors.
- Choice of plants: For a vibrant and tropical flair, try to select foliage-based plants together with flowering ones as long as they have similar growing conditions and can thrive at your location.
Best Tall Potted Plants for Privacy on Patio, Balcony, and Deck
Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris)
The bamboo trees are the absolute best choice for fast privacy screens. This is because they have an upright growth with thick lateral foliage.
However, they naturalize so fast and can easily take over your garden. But luckily, we're growing them in containers! According to Bamboo Sourcery, planting in containers is typically more cost-effective than planting in the ground; this application guarantees containment and maximizes growing space.
When choosing a specific cultivar, the running-type bamboos are often the best choice for quick, lateral privacy screening.
Bamboo plants can grow up to 9-22 feet tall and thrive between zones 5 and 10.
Hostas (Hosta spp.)
This is another great choice for both partial and full-shade areas. Hostas come in a variety of colors depending on the cultivar selected.
The most common are blue, green, variegated, and yellow leaf plants that are planted in clumps with strong roots and short upright stems to hold their thick foliage together. Usually, they reach around 2-4 feet in height and can survive up to zones 3a-9b.
Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)
The Yucca plants have sharp spines and thick foliage which makes them a great choice for those seeking privacy from close neighbors. They come in various sizes; the small varieties are usually less than 5 feet tall while the big ones can exceed even 7 feet. Also, they thrive in both full sun and part shade areas between zones 6a-11b.
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a unique evergreen with thick foliage that offers privacy from close onlookers. I have this plant on my balcony and it's just awesome.
It grows up to 10 feet tall, however, it is slow-growing with no lateral branching. With a bit of pinching the tip, you can easily encourage a few lateral growths.
But it's a hit-and-miss affair as I recently learned.
So, you can expect it to reach its maximum height in a few years. This plant thrives between zones 7b-11b and prefers partial shade.
Here's a great guide on how to care for the Ficus lyrata plant.
Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Winner of Herb of the Year 2009 by the International Herb Association, Sweet Bay is a medium-sized tree with aromatic leaves often used as a culinary herb.
Once planted in your backyard patio, these plants can help repel insects and provide your private space with a desirable mild fragrance.
While the trees in their native setting grow up to 60 feet, you can easily control them in pots to a maximum height of 12 feet tall by pruning. Besides, when grown in containers, they tend to grow wider than tall even though slowly.
This is one of the plants that need overwintering since it's susceptible to freezing and it's only hardy in zones 8 through 10.
Cosmos Flowers (Cosmos bipinnatus)
If you are aiming for a vibrant show of color on your patio, then you should definitely consider cosmos flowers. These plants come in yellow, pink, and white tones with detailing along the petals that can warm up any space.
They can also reach a maximum height of 4-5 feet tall and prefer full sun to partial shade. Also, they thrive in zones 2b-11b with some varieties being more resistant to cold temperatures.
Being mostly annuals, you should start them indoors and then transplant them in pots during the Spring months.
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Botanically known as Codiaeum variegatum, Croton is a member of the Euphorbia family. It's native to tropical Asia and the western Pacific region.
This striking plant varies widely in leaf color and pattern and numerous cultivars have been developed.
Most of these cultivars are hardy in zones 11 and 12. In the native settings, they can grow up to 10 feet tall contrary to when you grow them indoors - where they're much smaller but still vibrant.
Schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla)
This is an excellent choice if you're looking for fast-growing plants to offer privacy on your patio. Scheffleras are tropical evergreens that come in different forms with various leaf patterns and colors.
The regular form of this plant can reach heights of up to 10 feet tall, however, the dwarf forms rarely exceed 5 feet.
It thrives in zones 9a-11b and prefers full sun to partial shade.
Also, they are easy to maintain as they don't need much pruning once established. The only thing you should consider is overwintering them if temperatures drop below 30F (-1C).
Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald n Gold'
Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald n Gold' is a variegated evergreen shrub that can reach up to 8 feet tall with bright golden foliage and green margins.
It grows well in zones 6a-9b but requires full sun to partial shade. This plant is also easy to care for as it's drought-tolerant and doesn't require pruning.
Besides offering privacy on your patio, the golden hues of the foliage will make everything look more alive and vibrant.
Just keep in mind that this variety doesn't tolerate cold temperatures below 10F (-12C).
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Big bluestem is a warm-season grass native to North America and it can reach heights of up to 8 feet tall.
It's one of the most important grass species in the prairies, making it ideal for adding texture and color to any outdoor space. It thrives in zones 4-8 and prefers to be grown in full sun.
Besides, it can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. During winter, its foliage turns bronze or yellowish-brown, offering a beautiful contrast with other plants on your patio.
Just remember to cut back the dead foliage once Spring arrives.
Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
This ornamental grass is one of the best choices for adding movement to your garden. It's great for growing in pots on a patio or balcony and it can reach heights of up to 5 feet tall.
It thrives in zones 4-9 and prefers full sun to partial shade. It also doesn't require much water and can tolerate drought conditions.
If you want to add movement and texture, you can grow this plant alongside some exotic flowers for a great contrast. Just keep in mind that it's not frost-tolerant so you should overwinter it if temperatures drop below 20F (-7C).
Mountain Cabbage Tree (Cordyline indivisa)
The mountain cabbage tree looks like a small palm tree and makes an intriguing focal point in a container. It can reach up to 4-8 feet tall and it has upright, evergreen foliage that creates a stunning contrast with other plants in the container.
It grows well in zones 9a-10b and prefers full sun to partial shade. It also loves warm climates so make sure to avoid frosty temperatures below 20F (-7C).
Dwarf Lemon Tree (Citrus limon x)
It is a small tree that grows to about 10 feet but can be pruned to keep it even smaller. The leaves are light green and evergreen, providing year-round beauty.
Dwarf lemon trees will thrive in hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to grow lemon trees from seed.
Geraniums (Pelargonium xhortorum)
Geraniums are one of the most popular patio plants and for a good reason!
They come in various sizes, shapes, and colors so you can easily find the perfect variety for your outdoor space.
They love full sun but can also tolerate partial shade and they prefer to be grown in zones 8-11.
Besides, they don't require much water and once established, only need minimal care. Just make sure to protect them from frost in the winter months.
And, if you want more information on how to grow and care for them, here's a detailed guide.
Hibiscus Tree (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Hibiscus trees are the perfect addition to any outdoor space. The foliage is deep green and semi-glossy with proper care.
Hibiscus shrub produces vibrant and brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers that can be white, yellow, pink, or red. At maturity, depending on the variety, the plant grows to be about 8-to-16 feet tall and 5-to-10 feet wide making it one of the best tall potted plants for privacy on a patio.
This plant prefers full sun but can also tolerate partial shade and it grows best in zones 4 through 11 - again depending on the variety.
The Hibiscus tree is only as good as its blooms. So if yours is struggling to produce flowers, you may want to check out this guide.
Dracaena (Dracaena spp.)
Most Dracaena cultivars are tall, tree-like plants while others are relatively smaller. Whichever the case, you can control their growth in pots by pruning.
The plant has cane-like stems with colorful strap-like foliage that closely resembles maize or corn plant. It's one of the best choices for adding height and color contrast to your patio or balcony.
The popular cultivars that are grown as houseplants include D. fragrans 'Massangeana' and D. deremensis which can reach from 6 to 10 feet tall.
Dracaenas thrive in zones 7-11 when outdoors and prefer full sun to partial shade.
Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)
Elephant Ear or Taro is a tropical perennial that adds a dramatic architectural look to any outdoor space. Its large, heart-shaped leaves grow up to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide – hence the name elephant ears.
This plant prefers full sun but can also tolerate partial shade and it grows best in zones 7 through 11 - depending on the variety.
It’s also one of the best tall potted plants if you want to create a tropical paradise in your home or patio.
If you want to learn more, here's an article on how to plant elephant ear bulbs.
We’ve discussed a variety of tall potted plants for privacy that you can use to create an outdoor paradise on your patio.
Whether it's the fragrant dwarf lemon tree, beautiful geraniums, vibrant hibiscus shrub, architectural dracaena, or majestic elephant ear bulbs - all these plants have something unique to offer for any space.
So if you're looking for ways to spruce up your balcony or deck this summer while safeguarding your privacy, consider adding one of these amazing plants!
With proper care and maintenance, they will provide years of beauty and enjoyment. Now go ahead and start planning out the ones you like!