7 Unusual Plants You Can Grow in Containers

Looking to mix it up this year? Try growing some of these unique plants, no matter the size of your space.

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The warmer months bring us lush greenery and bright blossoms, but some of us don't have quite enough space for a colorful blooming garden. That’s where growing plants in containers can be a smart solution. It’s an easy and convenient way to enjoy the beauty of nature without worrying about having the space or equipment for lots of upkeep.

Many indoor gardeners might already have succulents, herbs, or peppers growing on the windowsill or countertop, but there are so many unusual species you can try for even more color and variety. We spoke with Stephanie Lucas, Director of Horticulture and Operations for Madison Square Park, who suggests some of these unexpected plants to try growing in containers at home.


Lucas says rice can be grown annually in containers and it's a fun plant to work with given its versatility. “There's even an edible ornamental variety of black rice (Oryza sativa) that is beautiful and will produce edible rice.”

Royal Catchfly (Spigelia marilandica)

The royal catchfly is a perennial plant of great importance to a garden and nature itself. “This native plant is important to pollinators and hummingbirds,” says Lucas. And since it produces red and yellow star-like flowers, it’s also very pretty to look at. Try planting some in a pot or window box this spring for a pop of red.

Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)

Not only does the bat flower grow well in a container, but its uniquely dramatic, intricate flowers make for a rewarding experience once it comes to a full bloom, says Lucas.

Related: 9 Gorgeous Black Flowers That Will Make a Moody Statement in Your Garden

Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

The sacred lotus is another unique plant, but not for its flower per se. Though the flower is large and beautiful, it's more unique because of how you can grow it. Since it is a type of aquatic plant, Lucas says that you can grow miniature varieties in water bowls.

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Known for its “beautiful pink trumpet-like flowers and unusual leaves,” according to Lucas, the coral honeysuckle is native to the United States that can be grown in containers pretty easily. Another bonus: This flowering vine also tends to attract hummingbirds. Make it grow even taller by adding a trellis to your pot to support the vines.

Related: The 14 Best Climbing Plants for Your Trellis or Pergola

Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

The naranjilla is a tropical plant from northwestern South America and relative to the tomato with a similar shape and interior. Lucas states you can grow this nightshade plant as an annual and enjoy its “unusual spiky leaves and edible orange fruit."

Witch Alder (Fothergilla major)

Witch alder is an American native flowering shrub that is truly a gift that keeps on giving throughout the seasons. “It has beautiful white flowers in the spring and interesting bluish foliage in the fall,” says Lucas. “It also has a full range of bright fall colors including reds, purples, and oranges.” Just beware that this plant can attract deer, so it might be best to grow witch alder in a container that friendly forest-dwellers can't access.

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