Mixed planters give the gardener a variety of colors, forms and textures to experiment with. A good mixed planter has contrasting foliage and blossoms to brighten a shady patio. Pick plants that tolerate the partial shade. Water your mixed planters regularly since the roof on the patio will protect your container from rainwater. Water deeply at least once a week or whenever your planters start to dry out.
Plant blood-red cranesbill (Geranium sanguineums) and Lancaster cranesbill (Geranium sangiuneum var. striatum) around the edges of the planter. They grow 12 to 18 inches tall and spreads 18 inches wide. They produce reddish purple to pale pink flowers. In the center of the container, plant a soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum). This evergreen fern reaches 24 inches in height with long drooping fronds. These perennials enjoy moist, rich soil. The blood-red cranesbill is one of the flowers that will bloom all season long. Deadhead the dying blossoms. Place this planter in an area that gets several hours of sunlight per day to promote flowering.
Variegated hostas can brighten up any dark, dull area in the shade. Try September Sun, which grows 1 to 2 feet tall with gold leaves with green edges and produces white flowers. Another type is Gold Standard, which grows 1 to 2 feet tall with yellow leaves surrounded by green and lavender flowers. Plant the hostas in front of the planter. In the back, place a dark green helleborus to create a dramatic contrast. Helleborus grows 12 to 24 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide and produces nodding flowers that are white, rose, green or purple.
Place large-flowered comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) around the edges of the planter. They grow 8 to 12 inches tall with broad, greed leaves and blue-white or pale yellow nodding blossoms. Plant wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) directly behind the comfrey. The phlox grows 15 inches tall. A stem covered in lance-shaped leaves are topped by a cluster of blue flowers. In the center of the planter, place a Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). This fern reaches 18 to 24 inches in height and 18 to 24 inches in width. It creates a cluster of upright dark green fronds. In the late spring, mounds of wild blue phlox and comfrey fill the planter with color while the stiff Christmas fern fronds adds a vertical element.