If you’re like me, you have little room to garden. I have a shaded patio where I can place potted plants, and that’s about it. I also have little time to garden, so perhaps lack of space is a reality that keeps me from biting off more than I can chew. Nonetheless, I like to dabble. I have four, lonely air plants, three of which are extremely adorable, made to look like jellyfish. But I digress.

What I’d like is to approach my front door where greenery abounds and pretend I have a full-on garden. I’d also like my investment to survive my schedule (read “lack of care”), so I’m on a quest for a low-maintenance container garden, and I’m taking you along for the ride.

In addition to low-maintenance, it would be cool if I could entice pollinators into my patio. I’m interested to see if the plants that attract butterflies at City Hall would work well in a confined location. It’s worth a try.

I consulted with Coconut Creek’s urban forester, Sharon Vollmer. She listened to me lament my gardening skills. Here’s what she shared with me:

Select the plant material based upon your conditions. Use shade-loving plants on a north-facing covered patio, for instance. If you face south, you will likely have some strong sunlight, even if it is indirect. 

Create layers. If the container is large enough, place a taller, upright plant in the center and then add a few midsized plants at its base. Finally, select a trailing-type plant to be placed all the way around the edge and let it grow to hang over the sides.

• Butterfly garden in a pot. Add both the larval host plant and some nectar sources to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Place a small, shallow birdbath nearby and, voilà, you have an instant wildlife habitat.

We discussed my lack of time to care for the plants and the inability to water via a normal garden hose because of my unit’s location on the property. We evaluated the plants for their contribution to the overall look, and, of course, my personal preferences.

Equipped with my plan, a lot of enthusiasm, and a slightly less-hectic summer schedule, I will embark on my new project and report back. I do this to encourage those of you who have smaller areas that can accommodate only container gardens to just do it. I’ll share my photos when the area is ready, and I encourage you to share yours. I’ll be sure to let you know if the pollinators ever made it to my patio garden.


For help selecting plants for your area, visit these websites.

• Florida-Friendly Landscaping: floridayards.org/fyplants

• University of Florida IFAS:


• Institute for Regional Conservation: regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/default.asp

• Florida Native Plant Society: