Enjoy nonstop color all year long with these container gardening ideas and plant suggestions. You'll find beautiful pots to adorn porches and patios.
We're kicking off our list of Container Gardening Ideas with a tip that will have you thinking outside the box—or planter.
Consider using a cast-concrete pool for a miniature garden. Because these pools are made to accommodate plumbing, there are already holes in the bottom that allow for drainage.
Orange pansies, violas, and Panolas provide a warm autumnal welcome in this grouping. Try pairing colorful and distinctive flowers like these with a textural plant, like a grass.
Red ‘Freida Hemple’ caladiums, a spider plant, and a ‘Little Gem’ Southern magnolia decorate a large pot in the corner and
hide the downspout. Smaller pots of the same caladiums tie together the grouping.
Use decorative ground covers to jazz up your potted plantings. A potted blue agave surrounded by pebbles serves as a living sculpture on this deck.
Use plantings to eliven your outdoor table. This shallow bowl of mixed succulents makes a great centerpiece.
Use textural plants for extra drama. This homeowner added spiky and vertical plants, such as ornamental grasses and caladiums,
to her pots.
Let your plants spill out of their container. A generous planting of golden variegated sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’)
fills this kettle, with golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) trailing out and onto the gravel below.
Use containers to fill bare spots in your garden. This concrete planter, tucked into a planting of dianthus, is filled with
tiny textured succulents, pulling you in for a closer look.
Use unique containers like vintage wooden boxes and buckets as container gardens. Be sure to drill drainage holes before planting. This variety of planters is filled with a mix of edibles, like lettuce, and decoratives, like marigolds and geraniums.
Add some height to the center of a flowerbed by placing a very vertical potted plant in the middle. Here, a potted rosemary topiary rises above the other edibles in this bed.
Mandevillas in containers twine through this railing on a rooftop deck. Reveling in hot weather, mandevilla can grow more than 10 feet a year.
Add charm with hanging ferns—a quintessential feature for any Southern porch. Cheery containers also add inviting color to
Add color to your outdoor party with potted plants. There’s no need for a patterned tablecloth here. Potted petunias add all
the color you need under the glass-top dining table.
Use white to lighten your garden. Pots of white impatiens brighten this shady corner with hundreds of blooms.
Don’t ignore edibles when selecting your planting materials. Different varieties of lettuce have beautiful color and texture.
Here, several leafy edibles mix with violas and mums.
Coleus, begonias, and purple fountain grass spill from this spectacular window box, completely hiding the container.
Create a fresh, eye-catching centerpiece—or block an unsightly view—in your yard with a giant elephant's ear. This elephant's ear is placed in a container and set in a small pond, thus eliminating the need for watering.
Not all boxwoods are dark green. Variegated American boxwood (‘Elegantissima’) and white violas illuminate this garden corner.
Containers were brought right up to this pool’s edge to beautify the landscape and help integrate the pool into the environment. Colorful plantings are reflected in the water, doubling the impact.
Repeat your plants in containers and flowerbeds. Pots of violas climb these front steps, seeming to spill out into the flowerbeds
for a lush, fluid look.
Elevate your containers for impact. These raised urns are filled with pink verbenas and white bacopas.
Coleus and lantana fit right in with the South’s increasing appetite for hot, cheery, assertive colors that stand up to heat
Keep more invasive herbs, like mints, contained in pots in your kitchen garden.
Integrate planters into your hardscape. This poolside scene includes a trough-like container built right into the bank.
Lily-of-the-Nile makes a big statement around this pool. The blue of the flowers mirrors the blue of the pool.
Vary the heights of your containers for greater visual interest. This garden features planters in a range of heights and materials, adding to its ecclectic cottage personality.
Use textural leaves for a more modern look. An assortment of plants in shades of green anchors this backyard corner and adds
depth in the small space.
Frame colorful plants with a textured background. These vibrant ‘Molten Orange’ coleus provide a pop of color among textural
Transplants of cilantro, parsley, and chives are at their best in late winter months, both in containers and in the ground.
Plant them in a shallow box, as pictured, and use them as an outdoor centerpiece.
Potted boxwoods offer formal elegance with little maintenance. This large American variety creates a living wall in a line
of concrete planters.
Pair colorful annuals with an evergreen for an established planting that can still change from season to season.
Hen and chicks plants fill this vintage metal planter. The silver undertones of the leaves mirror the copper finish of the tub.
For big impact, use big pots. They’ll accommodate more and larger plants, and the added soil means they won’t need watering as often.
Try planting ground cover in a pot. 'Purple Pixie' loropetalum shrub combines showy pink flowers in spring with deep burgundy evergreen foliage and a pronounced weeping form. As a ground cover, it reaches 1 to 2 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide. A 1-gallon plant placed in a 24-inch-tall pot will completely hide the pot in just a couple of years.
Use several flowers of the same color for a greater impact in a small planting. Tall yellow daffodils, medium-size pansies, and small violas are a happy mix in this terra-cotta planter.
Use impatiens to accent porches and entryways. Here, a skirt of coral impatiens surrounds a dwarf Alberta spruce.
A living arrangement of succulents demands little care and will last for years. The color of these containers brings out the colors in the plants.
As much as we love pansies and violas, they’re vertically challenged. Give them a lift by perching pots on benches and tables
or placing them on your steps.
Grasses in containers add soft texture and billowing form when placed directly into a border. 'Morning Light’ silver grass in a blue glazed pot lights up in the garden as sun strikes the foliage.
Succulents equal low-maintenance. A vintage sorghum pot is filled with cold-hardy succulents that bloom in the fall with flowers that attract masses of bees and need little water.
Add an unexpected pop of color with a pot of ‘Mona Lavender’ plectranthus. It will brighten the shorter days of fall and add wow to your yard.
This pink ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia drips with flowers throughout the summer and into fall. Combine it with ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra
for a splash of color against shimmering foliage.
Mix varieties of the same plant. Dwarf English boxwoods growing in the ground surround a terra-cotta pot planted with an American
Get creative with your containers. This living gate rolls open to let you in and rolls closed for privacy. The structure starts
with a galvanized horse trough filled with soil and planted with arborvitaes. A wooden brace attached to an old piano dolly
on the bottom allows the container to move with little effort.
Hang your baskets in unexpected places. A hook installed in a tree branch holds this basket featuring a sensational combination for the shade.
Build planters into your hardscaping. A round planter filled with Purple Heart softens the corner of this wall.
A blank wall becomes a work of art with the addition of a planter. White flowers and black-green foliage are dramatic, echoing the Gothic style of the planter's ironwork.
Flowers don’t have to grow at ground level. Get face-to-face with your containers by literally putting them up on a pedestal! These columned containers consist of coco-fiber baskets atop steel posts.
Plant a tiny kitchen garden in a pot. Fragrance and flavor are contained in this one display of coriander, rosemary, and thyme.
If you’re not yet color confident, choose one flower you love in a favorite shade, and stick with it. For more texture and
interest, add foliage that complements the color of your flowers.
Plant an attention grabber with a creative combination. This tall jar showcases Japanese roof irises and creeping strawberry begonias.
Cluster containers in one space for high impact. Look at the group as a whole composition, and plant it as a cohesive unit
with complementary and repeated colors.
Window boxes add lots of character and curb appeal. Plant them with colorful, seasonal annuals.
Adding a bicolored viola to this planter ties together the two solid-colored varieties.
Large pots can be repurposed around your yard. This unused pot fountain was repurposed as an accent table and stand for a cheerful container planting.
Use an outdoor room, like the space under a pergola, as a place to mix your containers. This grouping has a lush, vibrant mix of planters and hanging pots.
Daffodils are container-friendly options for spring plantings. Pair them with other spring bloomers with similar condition
requirements such as grape hyacinth.
All petunias need good drainage, which growing in a pot (with at least one hole in the bottom) provides. Use a cascading variety for a luxurious planting.
Geraniums in full bloom really make an impact. Flowers come in many different colors and may be single or double. Pinch off
old, faded blooms to keep new flowers forming.
The cascading form of ivy geraniums makes them ideal for hanging baskets and window boxes. This basket is filled with the
‘Sophie Cascade’ variety.
Impatiens are one of the best options for flowers that take heat and humidity. Lush mounds of potted impatiens border this
Boxwood’s willingness to be clipped, shaped, and trained makes it the perfect candidate for a classic topiary.
A chicken feeder planted with ‘Red Dragon’ rice makes a novel addition to this deck railing. (Note: Red rice is considered a serious weed in rice-growing areas. However, it’s okay to plant it elsewhere.)
Calibrachoa looks like a miniature petunia. Forming a trailing mound, it’s perfect for pots and hanging baskets.
Unlike cut blooms, a living flower arrangement planted in a container gives you color and beauty for months. Combine plants
that thrive in the same growing conditions and offer colors and textures that complement each other.
Grasses and succulents have great textural contrast. 'Amazon Mist’ sedge grass combines wonderfully with creeping sedum and purple echeveria in this planting.
Select plants that perform well in containers, such as lily-of-the-Nile, which can stay in the same pot for years. It doesn’t mind crowded roots.
Go tropical with Mandevilla. A prolific vine, it twines around any structure, and its large blossoms are knockouts.
Give your containers a boost. Classic pedestals raise these potted boxwoods to new heights, adding variety to the arrangement.
Update your standard plastic planter. A gel stain was applied to this pot for a richer finish.
Purple fountain grass looks great in containers. Its vertical shape creates an exclamation point in the border. Purplish red leaves and fall plumes combine well with the red coleus below. This grass and the coleus are not winter hardy in most areas, but new plants bought in spring are inexpensive and grow quickly.
The colorful foliage of caladiums has tons of drama. Pots containing three different caladiums add color and variety to this
entry in summer. From left to right: ‘June Bride,’ ‘Pink Gem,’ and ‘Aaron’
An easy way to add color in your garden is to integrate potted plantings of annuals. These containers of petunias surround a trellis of climbing vines.
Window boxes needn’t be hung only below windows. This charming barn gets even more character from being accented by window
When planning your flowerbeds, buy extra plants for accents. These containers were planted with flowers left over from the borders. Not only do the containers look great, but also they tie back into the colors of the adjacent walk.
If you don't want to spend all of your time watering, stick with easy-care options in some of your containers. Succulents and bougainvilleas need little care in containers.
Stacked pots offer opportunities to layer texture and color in your plantings. A mixture of colorful annuals and textural foliage fills this grouping.
March weather is unpredictable, so for those cool days, try the prolific pink blooms of 'Strawberry Sundae' twinspurs (Diascia hybrid). They will keep looking great even when temperatures fluctuate.
Pair your tulips with Lavender Blue' and 'Purple Wing' Plentifall pansies, acorus, heuchera, variegated ivy, and 'Tiger' fern (a selection of Boston fern).
Add height to your containers with showy snapdragons. They pair well with a mixture of Penny violas, tulips, parsley, and ivy.
Forgiving succulents are both heat and drought tolerant, so they'll look great all summer long.
This shade-loving combo adds color to any entry.
Go-to grasses and can't-fail lantanas mark the advent of a bright new season.
These bright blooms of 'Ogon' golden sweet flag, 'Matrix Yellow Blotch' pansies, and 'Penny Clear Yellow' violas will make your pots and flowerbeds glow.
When filling a show-stopping window box, don't hesitate to use small evergreen shrubs or perennials, which last throughout
the seasons. In the fall, turn to mums, kales, pansies, violas, and snapdragons for color, and then add a few daffodil or
tulip bulbs for a pop in the spring.
Easy and versatile, collards have graced Southern gardens and tables for generations. A cousin to kale and cabbage, these
nutritious, leafy greens thrive in the cooler weather of fall and early spring.
To create a poinsettia tree, follow these instructions: First, cut the larger blooms, leaving about 6 inches of stem. Sear them quickly to stop sap from dripping out. Sap should bubble under the candle flame, and the ends of the stems will turn black. You may also need to sear the points where larger leaves were removed along the stems. Insert each seared stem into a water-filled florist tube. Stems are hollow and will absorb water after being seared. Place the stems into the base of the ivy topiary. Then repeat this process with the medium-size and smaller poinsettia blooms, cutting the stems so they're about 4 inches long. Insert blossoms into the topiary, working your way toward the top. Once it's complete, care is simple—just add water to the tubes every few days, as needed.
To make a terrarium, choose a glass container with an opening wide enough for your hand. Gently add an inch or two of washed, fine gravel. Top gravel with a thin layer of activated aquarium carbon. (You'll find both items at your local pet store.) Next, add moistened potting soil, and you'll be ready to plant. Create a collection of plants, or showcase just one. Good choices include ferns, succulents, mosses, miniature moth orchids, African violets, and kalanchoes.
Make a statement with a large overflowing container against a blank wall, parking court, or at the edge of a terrace and fill with 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, coleus, 'Supertunia Vista Bubblegum' petunia, and geranium.
Combine several English ivy topiaries and a clipped lemon cypress to accent a garden table. Mix spirals, globes, columns, and lollipop shapes of varying heights. Unify the look with terra-cotta pots. We love the flared sides of these by Campo de' Fiori (campodefiori.com). The topiaries are by Schubert Nursery (schubertnursery.com), available at your local garden center.
This is a great way to get lots of punch from just a few dozen bulbs. You can move containers to wherever you need color on a particular day, be it your front door, porch, steps, or patio. As soon as the bulbs finish blooming, plant them in the garden. No bulbs are easier for container growing in the South.
Plant colorful red and green Wildfire mix lettuces in a sunny spot near the kitchen to make it easy to prepare salads with your fresh harvest.
Yellow acorus, lime green euphorbia, purple viola, variegated ivy, and pink Lenten rose make this container pop. Combine lenten
roses with these three great plants for maximum curb appeal:
'Aaron' caladium, holly fern, 'Key Lime Pie' heuchera, 'White Nancy' lamium, ivy, and light pink periwinkle come together in this eye-catching window box.
The ideal focal point or space filler in an area that receives full to partial sun, this container is filled with 'Baby Tut' dwarf papyrus, elephant's ear, 'Blackie' sweet potato vine, and 'Vogue Audrey' mandevilla.
Surrounded by a skirt of dwarf mondo grass, this ornate planter filled with an assortment of herbs provides a striking focal point in the middle of the diverging walks.
Take advantage of seasonal sales at your local nursery, and stock up on popular plants. Keep them in their nursery pots, and display them in galvanized buckets on the porch until you are ready to plant them in your garden. Recreate this look with gerbera daisies, salvias, shasta daisies, daylilies, and sweet potato vines.
Hanging baskets follow the same recipe as containers as far as care goes. But instead of an upright thriller plant, you want more spillers and fillers. Calibrachoa in red, purple, and yellow fill out fast with blooms that look like miniature petunias.