18 Top Plants for Enhancing Swimming Pool Landscapes

Smart poolside landscaping involves choosing plants that are strong, easy to maintain and look great. Poolside plants can provide shade, privacy and enhance the appearance of your outdoor space. Keep children and pets away from toxic plants.

These 18 plants and trees are great for landscaping around a pool.

The majority of plants on this list thrive in warmer climates. (USDA zones 9 to 11). Many of these plants can be grown indoors in containers.


Banana Tree Musa
Banana tree near pool

Banana trees can instantly give your pool an exotic look if you live in a mild climate without frost. Bananas can be fast-growing perennials or trees that have broad, long leaves with a tropical appearance. Plant them away from wind because their beautiful leaves can be easily torn up if they are not protected by a fence or wall.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 10 (although some varieties thrive in zones 5 to 10).
Flower Color: White
Light: Full Sun
Soil needs: rich, well-drained land
Mature Size: 1-15 ft. in width, 2-30 ft. high (varies greatly by species).

Hawaiian Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
The hibiscus plant next to the pool

You can choose from a variety of species, including ‘White Wings’, ‘Crown of Bohemia’, ‘Kona Princess’, and ‘Flamenco Flame’.

Hibiscus loves water, so make sure you provide it in plenty. Consider growing hibiscus inside a pot and near a window in colder climates. You can use Hawaiian hibiscus to make a floral arrangement by picking one in the morning when it is fully bloomed, and then putting it in the fridge. The flowers will remain fresh and open for a long time in a vase.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11
Flower Color: White or red, pink, yellow, orange, peach, and purple
Light: Full sun or part sun?
Loamy soil is best for soils.
Mature Size: 4-10 ft. tall, 3-6 ft. wide

Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia Reginae
Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise is a great way to get there quickly if you’re thinking about a tropical oasis. It has a similar appearance to a banana, a growth habit that is upright, and leaves that are 2 feet long.

Bird of Paradise can be grown indoors, but if your climate is cooler, you may want to overwinter it and then move it outdoors in the summer. Bird of Paradise makes a great choice for poolscapes because it doesn’t shed and can withstand splashing.

USDA Hardiness Zones 11
Flower Color: White or orange or blue
Light: Partial sun
Rich, well-drained potting mix is the best soil for your garden.
Mature Size: 3.5-6 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide

Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’)
zebra grass near pool

The use of ornamental grasses is a great option for landscaping around a pool. These grasses are low-maintenance, don’t get too messy, blend well with other plants and have a striking appearance, day or night. Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Strictus’ is a particular ornamental grass, also known as zebra or porcupine grass. Its horizontal stripes lend it an exotic appearance that is perfect for tropical landscaping.

USDA Hardiness Zones 11
Flower Color: White or orange or blue
Full sun
Chalk, clay loam and sand are the soils that you need.
Mature Size: 7 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide

Egyptian Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus)
Papyrus egyptian

The right conditions can make Cyperus papyrus look lush and tropical. Papyrus loves water and can be found in shallow ponds and bogs. It can also grow in soils that have been amended with clay, as the clay helps to retain moisture. It’s best to pair it with the tall, skinny Equisetum “Horsetail,” which also loves water.

USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and Above
Flower Color: Greenish brown
Full sun
Rich, moist soil is best for soil.
Mature Size: 5-8 ft. tall, 2-4 ft. wide

Angel’s Trumpet

Brugmansia (also known as angel’s horn) has a wonderful scent and is a beautiful shrub or tree for the pool area. The plants can be brought inside and allowed to dormant over the winter. They can survive the winter if they are kept in a dark, cool place.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11
Flower Color: White or peach pink, orange or yellow
Sun: Light to partial
Soil Needs: Acid soil
Mature Size: 6-35 ft. tall, 3-10 ft. wide
Angel’s trumpet is poisonous in all parts. It can be poisoned by eating or even touching it. Angel’s trumpet should be handled with gloves. If you have pets or children, avoid this plant. Seek medical attention immediately in the event of exposure or poisoning.



Echeverias, succulent perennials native to Mexico, have a texture that is a mix between velvet and felt. These plants make great rock gardens, and they are drought-tolerant. These plants would make a great addition to your planters around the pool or spa. Mix them with some ornamental grasses and other succulents for a low-maintenance, attractive display. They can grow as shrubs in the right zones, mainly the southwestern ones. Their leaves are up to 4 inches long and they reach a height of 2 feet.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11
Flower color: Pinks, yellows, greens and reds
Sun: Light to partial
Soil Requirements: A succulent mix with a pH around 6.0.
Height: 2-24 inches. tall, 2-12 in. Wide

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavida)
yellow kangaroo paw

The common name of this perennial, kangaroo-paw, gives a hint to its origin: Australia. Kangaroo Paws and their hybrids have a slim, graceful appearance. But it’s the flowers that make them so attractive. The perennials are striking and curved, like kangaroo-paws. They come in beautiful colors and varieties, such as ‘Bush Gold’, ‘Bush Emerald’, and ‘Bush Lantern (bright yellow).

USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 11
Flower Color: White and pink; red, yellow or orange
Full sun
Soil Needs: Sandy soil
Mature Size: 2-10 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide


Martha Washington Geranium (Regal pelargonium)
Martha Washington Geraniums

The hybrids known as Martha Washington and Lady Washington Geraniums are the best for vibrant, beautiful colors that last from spring through fall. Martha Washington geraniums usually only last six weeks in late spring. Marthas can look like orchids and exotic tropical flowers. Lady Washington pelargoniums are also known by cultivar names like ‘Raspberry Swirl’, ‘Imperial’, and ‘Excaliber’.

USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 10
Flower Color: Red, pink, fuschia and white.
Light: Indirect sun
Well-drained soil is the best type of soil.
Mature Size: 5 to 36 in. Height: 5 to 36 in.

Proteas, also known as Banksia

Banksias are orange beauties. Banksias are native to Australia. Proteas can be stiff and prickly, but they are also tough and long-lasting. Combine proteas with other tropicals like hibiscus and cannas. Low-growing palms are also good. Proteas will grow in areas with low nutrients and rocks. They should not be fertilized.

USDA Hardiness Zones 8
Flower color: White, purples, reds, yellows, oranges, and greens
Sun: Light to partial
Soil needs: acidic, nutrient poor soil
Mature Size: 6 to 26 ft tall, depending on the variety

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine (I. batatas )
sweet potato vine

Sweet potato vines are available in a variety of colors and varieties, but the bright chartreuse “Marguerite” (also known as ‘Margarita or ‘Margarite”) is among the most beautiful and hardy. I. batatas come from tropical and subtropical regions. They are easy to care for, fast-growing vines suitable for planters, walls and trellises.

USDA Hardiness Zones 11
Flower color: chartreuse, gold and bronze, purple, red, and almost black
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Soil needs: well-drained, enriched soil
Mature Size: 8-10 feet long, 5-12 inches wide Approximately 8-10 ft. long, 5-12 in. wide

Agave Attenuata
Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata, a native Mexican plant that grows well in the southwest United States, is not to be confused with Agave blue or Agave Tequilana. These are important cash crops for the Mexican state Jalisco, which produces tequila. It is tolerant of low water levels and grows well in the vicinity of an ocean or swimming pool. It is easy to propagate Attenuata from pups or cuttings. A few large plants will multiply in a short time and become very prolific.

USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12
Flower color: White, yellow and green
Light: From full sun to partial shade
They prefer rocky soil or sandy soil.
Mature Size: 1-2 m tall, 1-3 m wide (depending on the variety).


Hebe (Hebe)
Hebe (Hebe syn. Hebe albicans) ‘Red Edge’

This New Zealand native plant is also known as Veronica. Hebes with a more shrubby appearance are striking, exotic plants that can be used to enhance the landscaping of poolside borders. They like mild winter zones and require regular watering with good drainage.4 The flowering period for some varieties extends from the early summer to the first frost. For constant bloom, deadhead the flowers as often as possible. Hebes need shade in hotter climates.

USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 11
Flower Color: Purple, pink, white, blue, violet,
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Soil needs: loose, well-draining dirt
Mature Size: 1-6 ft. tall, 4-5 ft. wide

Aeonium (Aeonium)

In the past, succulents were overlooked in American gardens. However, in western United States they are enjoying an increase in popularity. Aeonium is the name of these green beauties. Succulents are available in many sizes and shapes. They’re the new stars in drought-tolerant landscaping, as they store water within their leaves, stems and roots. The more familiar cactus is technically a succulent, even though it requires a desert environment and has prickly spikes. Succulents do not have spines.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11
Flower Color: White, yellow, green, or red and white with variegated flowers.
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Sand loam or regular potting soil mix
Height: 3 to 36 in. tall, 6-12 in. Wide: 6-12 in.

Jade (Crassula ovata)
jade plant

Jade is popular in some areas, but it is also a plant that can be grown almost as a weed. It is easy to grow and doesn’t require much care. Its leaves are packed with water, just like all succulents. When they shrivel, it means it needs to be hydrated. Jade is a beautiful, durable, and trouble-free plant that will look great in your pool area landscaping.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 10
Flower Color: Variable by species
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Sand or rocky soils are fine as long as they’re well-drained
Mature size: Variable by species

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium superbum)
staghorn fern

Staghorn ferns are found on trees in tropical areas. Staghorns are great for growing in zones other than the tropics. They can be mounted on wood or bark slabs, in hanging baskets or attached to trees. This plant is perfect for a pool area if you have a pool house or garden wall that receives filtered sunlight.

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11
Flower Color: Green
Light: Bright, indirect sunlight
Plants should be potted in a rich, well-drained soil. Mature plants can be hung.
Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide


Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia)
Creeping jenny

This vigorous perennial, a native of Europe, has naturalized in eastern North America. The Creeping Jenny adapts well to many environments, such as woodlands, partial shade gardens or the dry climate in southern California (pictured). Lysimachia has a lovely chartreuse hue and is great as a groundcover, climbing trellises or spilling over containers by the pool. Jenny is a beautiful plant that can be invasive. However, gardeners who love color are willing to forgive it because of its beauty.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9
Color Type: Yellow
Light: From full sun to partial shade
Soil Needs: Moist, well-draining soil
Mature Size: 2 to 4 in. tall, 12-18 in. Wide: 12-18 in.

Schefflera (Schefflera)

Scheffleras originate from Australia, New Caledonia and southern Asia. They also come from Hawaii and Taiwan. The plants have also been adapted to other areas, including California and Florida. Schefflera thrives near swimming pools, particularly in soil that is moist and well-drained. Schefflera is also known as Queensland umbrella tree or octopus. It can be combined with tropical plants like hibiscus and bromeliads.

USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 11
Flower color: white, pink or red
Light: Bright indirect lighting
Soil needs: rich and moist
Mature Size: Between 4 and 6 feet. Tall, 3 to 6 foot wide (indoors); 25 feet tall outdoors