A patio, if "decorated," can be considered another room of your home: a place to entertain guests, or a place to unwind after work. Decorated with plants and attractive pottery, patios are no longer just a pass-through to the backyard. Growing plants in containers, whether in pots on the ground or in hanging baskets, is easy and the number of plants that do well in pots may just surprise you.
The lemon tree is one of the prettiest of the citrus trees, so even when it isn't in bloom or producing fruit, it will make a lovely ornamental plant on the patio. Dwarf lemon trees require at least four hours of direct sun a day, with temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, and 50 to 55 degrees at night. Watering the dwarf lemon can be a bit tricky, as too much or too little water will cause the leaves to drop. To determine the correct amount of water, start by allowing the soil to dry out to within the top inch of soil before watering. Keep an eye on the tree and, with a little experimentation, you will learn the correct amount of water your tree requires.
Fuchsia is a patio gardener's favorite perennial plant. Plant your fuchsia in hanging baskets and let them trail over the sides, and you will attract every hummingbird in the neighborhood. The fuchsia requires early morning sun and then shade for the remainder of the day. If you don't have a shady spot, you can surround your fuchsia with sun-loving plants that will shade it and keep it cool. Fuchsia are heavy feeders during the blooming season and need to be fertilized weekly with a water-soluble tomato food. Mix 1 tbsp. of the fertilizer into 1 gallon of water, and pour it on the plant until it runs out the bottom.
If you decide to invite the hummingbirds into your patio garden, you may as well invite the butterflies as well. Verbena is just the invitation you will need. This is a plant that will offer you lots of flowers, blooming from summer until frost. Although verbena prefers sunshine, it will tolerate dappled shade. If you plan to include your verbena in a mixed planting, consider combining it with other plants that attract butterflies, such as delphinium. For color combination ideas, the University of Illinois Extension's website has several suggestions, including mixing lilac verbena (such as "Babylon") and white strawflower, such as "White Licorice," in a 12 to 14 inch pot.