While your covered patio may be a welcome retreat on bright summer days, it's not the most hospitable place for your sun-garden plants. Transform your patio into a garden extension with some shade-loving patio plants. Mix and match them in complementary or contrasting containers. Train them along patio supports. Use them in hanging baskets or window boxes for a gracefully cascading look. Whether flowering or foliage plants, they'll bring summer color to that shady patio.
Fuschia (Fuschia), a versatile, shade-loving patio plant, performs as an annual where winter temperatures fall below 30 degrees Fahrenheit--U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 10. In warmer areas, it will be evergreen. Weeping plants with trailing stems work well in hanging baskets or window boxes. Compact, shrub-like varieties--up to 2 feet high--are best in containers, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. All have oval green leaves and elegant, white or jewel-toned spring and summer blooms.
Attractive to hummingbirds, the drooping, tubular flowers may be white, pink, red, purple or brilliantly bi-colored. Upward-curving sepals and hanging stamens give them an exotic appearance. Fuchsia likes fertile, consistently moist soil and partial to full shade.
Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) is a shade gardening staple. A 6-inch to 2-foot-mounding habit makes this easy-to-grow plant ideal for small and large containers or as a patio edging. Hardy to zone 10, impatiens has tender, succulent-like stems and oval or elliptical, green foliage. Between June and frost, its single or double blooms appear in shades of white, pink, red, purple, yellow, lavender, or orange. The plants handle partial to full shade and like moist, rich, well-drained soil, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. They make an eye-catching combination paired with coleus, a colorfully variegated, shade-loving foliage plant. With proper care, potted impatiens will overwinter indoors.
Torenia (Torenia fournieri) is a compact, 1-foot high shade-loving annual. It has a bushy form and long flowering season. From June until frost, the multi-stemmed plants produce yellow-throated, light and dark blue-violet blooms resembling miniature irises. Their joined stamens account for the plant's common name, wishbone flower. Torenia cultivars are available with a wide range of single and combined flower colors, including white, blue, lavender, yellow and several shades of pink. All have pale green, oval leaves. Torenia is attractive in patio containers or window boxes, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It likes moist, well-drained fertile soil and benefits from mulch where summer temperatures are high.