Patio gardening makes decorative use of space around the house, bringing colorful flowers right to the places where you socialize. In many urban areas, for those living in apartments or managed units, the patio may be the only outdoor space available to grow plants. Even for those with plenty of land available, container gardening on a deck or porch makes care for plants easier and more convenient and allows gardeners greater control over soil condition and exposure of plants to the elements.
Flowers are the most popular choice for porches and patios. While you still need to take into consideration the amount of sun or shade your space has to offer when making your selections, there are few other limits to your options. Think outside traditional hanging basket choices; perennials, bulbs and wildflowers are just as viable as annuals.
Play with variety--from the height of tall spikes of salvia to trailing vines of ivy from hanging baskets. The bright faces of petunias and pansies are large enough to be seen from a window. The informal look of shasta daisies contrasts nicely with stately roses. Combine several favorites, including one low-, one medium- and one taller-growing plant in a single pot for an attention-getting display--such as periwinkle, lavender and iris.
Vegetables and Fruits
If you are short on garden space, a few favorites can be easily raised in a small area. Peppers and tomatoes are decorative when bearing colorful produce. Vegetables that often fall prey to pests in the garden, like eggplant, can sometimes be more easily protected in containers, which allow you to cover or relocate the plants when pests appear. Berries also perform nicely and put tasty treats right within reach. Blueberries adapt well because the soil can be adjusted to fit their specific needs. Let strawberries dangle over the side of a planter or grow them upside down for a real conversation starter.
Herbs are well-suited for container gardens. Growing them on your patio means the plants are available for ready use with a quick trim. Herbs are an excellent choice for anyone who feels they don't have a green thumb. They are generally hardy and tolerant, even of neglect. Herbs can provide you with a variety of textures and forms--from the woody stems of sage and small mounded bushes of rosemary to light, delicate foliage of dill. Fern-like yarrow will bring an accompanying spray of white flowers, while lavender can add a remarkable aroma and striking purple blooms to your sanctuary.