You can use many types of containers as patio containers. Mix and match the containers for a dimensional look. Choose from clay, wood, plastic, wire baskets (with coconut inserts), planter boxes or cement blocks and paint buckets. If you use unconventional containers, and they do not have drain holes, drill several 1-inch drain holes in the bottom of each container. Use well-draining potting soil, and remember to water the patio containers every other day, or as needed (containers need watering more often than plants that are planted in the ground).
Swiss Mountain Pine
The Swiss mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is cold hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone 2. It is an evergreen dwarf pine that grows up to 20 feet high, if allowed. This pine is a good specimen for garden containers, as it is slow growing. The Swiss mountain pine's needles are rigid and slightly curved, and grow up to 2 inches long. The needles are bright green. It produces a small, dark gray cone that is about 2 inches long. Plant the Swiss mountain pine in a large container with well-drained, loose soil. Keep it in partial shade.
The Christmas cactus is a good container plant. It stays small, unless planted in a larger container. For a larger, cascading plant, choose a container than is at least 12 inches across and 16 inches deep. The flowers form in October, and persist throughout the holiday season. The Christmas cactus is a "short day" plant. During the summer, when the days are longer, it produces leaves, then the shorter days encourage the Christmas cactus to produce flower buds. You can force budding by moving the plants into a dark area for six weeks. Time the six weeks starting in the end of September, so you have blooms for 10 weeks, starting in mid November.
The German violet (Exacum affine) is also known as the Persian violet. This annual grows up to 12 inches tall and produces shiny green foliage and blue flowers with yellow pollen masses. The oval leaves grow up to 2 inches long. Use it as a container plant or as edging around flowerbeds. Keep the German violet in partial sun. Plant it acidic soil, sand, loam or clay, if planting in the ground. For container plants, use a well-draining potting soil.