There are hundreds of plant combinations suitable for patios in Georgia. Flowers, shrubs and trees should be selected to fit the homeowner's lifestyle. If you enjoy the daily ritual of tending your plants, containers full of blooming annuals and perennials are a good choice for your patio plantings. One can also have a patio full of plants that require hardly any attention at all. Most people's patio gardens fall somewhere in the middle.
Georgia's U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness zones range from 7a to 8b.
Georgians who start and end every day on a full-sun patio often mix edibles and ornamentals. A citrus topiary, such as a 'Meyer' lemon, is a good choice for gardeners as far north as USDA zone 8. Citrus trees grown as topiaries offer sweet-smelling blooms in spring and fruit during the winter. Citrus in containers are more vulnerable to freezes than trees in the ground. Those in the northernmost part of the state can still grow them, but plants will need to be brought to a sunny spot indoors or thoroughly covered when temperatures go below freezing. Citrus trees, whose containers are left outside, should be well watered throughout winter.
Bush Tomato Plants
Bush tomatoes, also known as determinates, are compact plants and are better suited for patios than vining indeterminate types. The tomatoes on determinates usually all ripen around the same time, then the plant can be removed. Heirloom tomatoes are en vogue these days, but Georgia's hot, humid conditions, particularly in the southern part of the state, make them tough to grow as they are more susceptible to many diseases.
Make sure that tomatoes get a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Choose a high-quality potting soil rich in organic matter. According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, it is a good idea to test the soil pH and make adjustments to make sure it falls between 6.2 and 6.8. Plant tomatoes in a container that is too large, rather than too small. Tomatoes planted in too-small pots dry out frequently and stress the plants. Stressed plants are less productive.
Wax begonias are reliable annuals for Georgia patios in the sun or shade. Varieties with green leaves require shade, while those with bronze leaves take full sun. Impatiens are suited to humid, shady patios. They provide mounds of color from spring until frost.
Larger sun-loving annuals like tropical hibiscus and bougainvillea can make a Georgia patio feel like an island resort. The trumpet-shaped blooms of hibiscus come in yellow, orange, pink and red. Pink and red bougainvillea is sold in hanging baskets, on potted trellises, and even in topiary form.
Brugmansia, also known as angel trumpet, is a fast-growing shade- to part-shade plant with large trumpet-shaped blooms. The flowers come in white, yellow or peach and hang from branches that can quickly reach 8 feet in height. Angel trumpet's grow fast and large, make sure to plant them in a large heavy pot to keep it from tipping over.
The fragrant gardenia is common in Georgia landscapes. Hardy throughout the state, 'White Gem' gardenia is a good choice for containers. Gardenias are heavy feeders, so feed them regularly with slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Liquid iron may also be sprayed on the leaves if they begin to yellow.
Azalea 'Encore' hybrids are also acid-loving shrubs. They prefer shade to part-sun and offer a spring and autumn bloom. 'Encore' azaleas are well-suited to Georgia patios because they don't grow as large as the classic 'Formosa' variety. 'Encores' can reach 3 to 5 feet in height and width. Both pruning and fertilizing should be done after they finish a bloom cycle.
Often people don't think to plant trees in containers, but trees offer nice shade and privacy on a Georgia patio. Vitex, also known as a chaste tree, is a disease- and bug-resistant, sun-loving tree. It blooms either white or a bluish-lavender. It is extremely popular with pollinators like bumblebees, honeybees and butterflies.
Dwarf varieties of crepe myrtle also work in pots. 'Petite Pinkie,' for instance, grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Crepe myrtles are prone to insect infestations. Treat crepe myrtle foliage with horticultural oil to kill whitefly and aphids without risk of hurting beneficial insects.