Growing in containers on a patio is a way to put normally empty space to work. This area provides a site to create displays of color. A patio gives a gardener a sheltered growing area protected from strong winds and high temperatures. This area will most likely be in partial shade for some time during the day. This prevents the plants from overheating and reduces water loss.
Hinoki falsecypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is an evergreen tree with heavily-needled, spreading branches. This tree grows 120 feet tall in the wild, so keep it pruned back to dwarf its size for container growth. The dark green tree forms small cones that are orange-brown in color. The cultivar Nana Gracillis grows slowly to 6 to 8 feet tall in a container and produces wavy branches.
New Zealand Flax
New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) grows 5 to 10 feet tall in moist, good-draining soil. Sword-shaped leaves create fans of clumping foliage that resemble long blades of grass. Leaf colors include red, yellow, bronze, chocolate, deep purple, pink and deep green. Some varieties have leaves that are multicolored with stripes. New Zealand flax is used as accents in containers.
Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus) is an evergreen shrub with non-woody, square stems. The 4 to 7 inch leaves are variegated in dark green, silver and purple on top, but solid purple underneath. The small flowers are tubular, pale violet blossoms. This shrub grows 3 to 4 feet and tends to fall over when it grows too quickly. Pinch the stems back to control the growth of the branches and provide support.
Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea x batatas) is a rapidly growing perennial that reaches 6 to 10 feet long. The leaves are heart-shaped and deeply lobed. Leaf colors ranges from purplish-red, nearly black, lime-green and variegated in green, white and pink. Trumpet-shaped flowers appear in lavender, pale purple and white. The tubers of the sweet potato vine are edible but do not taste very good.