125 Container Gardening Ideas
You may not have the space or patience to become a master gardener, but anyone can master container gardening. It’s a cinch—all you need is a container (a planter in true gardener speak), potting soil, some plants and you’re ready to go. Thinking of container gardening like this, it’s easy to see why container gardening ideas can be endless—so endless that you may need a few container garden ideas to point you and your pots in the right direction. From fall container gardening to hanging container gardening and even indoor container gardening—we’ve got tons of container garden ideas for you. With our ideas, you’ll be inspired to dirty your hands and spruce up your porch or patio with some pretty container gardens in no time.
Rethink your porch planting with a container that proves there's elegance and purpose in simplicity. Fragrant rosemary, basil, and lemon grass accent soft blue plumbago in this tabletop setup. The best part? While the scent appeals to garden party guests, it could also help keep pests at arm's length. Start with a young lemon grass plant positioned in the center of the pot. Then add the flowering plumbago around that. On the outermost edges, fill in the gaps with basil and rosemary, alternating the two if you wish or placing them on opposite sides of the container.
Clip (and use!) the basil frequently. This will help it grow and also keep it from overtaking the rest of the display.
For a late-summer container that steals the show, make bold foliage the focal point. This easy-care, end-of-season planter uses vibrant 'Rustic Orange' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), identified by its rusty-hued leaves that will last until the first frost. The filler in this space-saving pot is 'Compact Hot Coral' SunPatiens (Impatiens sp.), which has tiny tangerine blooms and dark, shiny leaves that contrast nicely with the bronze-toned coleus. Finally, 'Yellow Moon' wishbone flower (Torenia sp.) adds even more lush greenery to the arrangement and offers petite yellow petals with purple throats. This is a thirsty container, so you'll need to make sure it stays well watered. Place it in full sun or partial shade.
Made for Shade
A simple-to-follow formula is all you need to create drama in a container. Here, it takes only four plants to convey the sweeping illusion of a floor-length gown. The key to pulling this off is starting with an elevated planter so the vibrant 'Celebration' and 'Florida Sweetheart' caladiums pop at eye level. Clusters of white wishbone flower fill the empty spaces between the caladium stems and also conceal the actual container, which means you can use just about any freestanding vessel. The final attention grabber is the graceful creeping Jenny spilling over the sides. Position this planter in the shade and water regularly for a gorgeous, easy-to-maintain display.
Traditional Freestanding Container
These porch-step containers begin with bright pink and yellow zinnias—think 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' or 'Magellan Salmon'—which are one of our favorite flowers for their beautiful, round shape. Cooler 'filler' flowers, such as purple verbenas and blue calibrachoas are added to create contrast with texture and color. To make this container garden even simpler, opt for inexpensive plastic planters that are weatherproof and easy to move around. Grouping your containers in a tight space can help to create a homey, mini-garden vibe. Plus, when placed side by side, all of these incredible colors intensify. You’ll love to walk up to these bright wonders.
Traditional Hanging Container
This woven wicker basket is a natural way to decorate a bare wall in an outdoor space, and it will look just as beautiful whether you set it against brick, timber, or concrete. Pink zinnias and yellow tuberous begonias are the focal points or 'thrillers'. You’ll love the variation between the tighter, round zinnias and the softer, open petals of the begonias. Blue Cape plumbago and golden lantana add an extra hint of drama—think of these as the 'fillers'. Finally, English ivy, with its delicate, well-known shape, cascades over the side—that is the 'spiller', which gives this beautiful hanging container a sense of movement.
Traditional Tabletop Container
If you need proof that a plain and simple planter has the power to brighten up what could be a dull backyard side table then look right here. This container’s copper sheen complements, rather than competes with, the fuchsia zinnias. Yellow calibrachoas—which look like little petunias—spill over the container’s edge. Then, subtle splashes from purple verbenas create another unexpected yet robust focal point in this outdoor garden conversation space. If you would like your planter to have this beautiful feeling of flow, be sure to select a 'trailing' calibrachoa for this container because it grows lower than the mounding version.
Modern Freestanding Container
A planter in a faux-lead finish is a timeless choice, but the cylindrical shape of these tall fiberclay urns gives them a distinctly modern and clean, geometric feel. This type of styling can work well in any décor because it focuses on familiar forms. Choosing a neutral tone or texture for your container helps bring out the unique natural beauty from the color of the flowers and foliage pop. Here, string of pearls creates plenty of architectural drama through their unique shape, while purple calibrachoa and blue ageratum add just the right dose of brightness to add depth to this subtle arrangement.
Modern Hanging Container
Hanging containers are a simple way to bring gardens to limited spaces, or to add beauty to your space in simple yet unexpected ways. For this unique design, a mix of structural succulents gives the arrangement a bold internal architecture, and takes center stage in a simple hanging fiberclay planter. Purple fan flower punctuates the lush greenery. Fan flower is unique because all its blossoms have their segments on one side. In the Tropical South, these plants can also be evergreen. Given their bold, bright color, they offer a refreshing contrast to the deep, dark container suspended in the air.
Modern Tabletop Container
This ingenious organic look comes from contrasting the strong, stark lines of a modern container with the soft, ripple-in-the breeze movement of natural plants. A carefully curated selection of beautiful containers embody the warm, rich metal tones in this well-designed outdoor oasis. The handsome planter on the mantel has a slate-like finish and blends various succulents with the pink plumes of 'Joey' ptilotus, a bottlebrush plant that is native to Australia. Large-leaved kalanchoes and dwarf golden arborvitaes form the base of this masterpiece, which can grace this mantel just as easily as it could highlight the center of a backyard dining table.
Rustic Freestanding Container
This sturdy galvanized-metal washtub—a flea market gem—is filled to an overflowing beauty with a hearty mix of lantanas and impatiens. Arranged with maroon Joseph’s coat, green coleus, and yellow creeping Jenny, this dense container was designed to highlight a back porch, or greet guests with its sense of joy and happiness on the front porch just as easily. Coleus varieties were first introduced into Europe in the 1700s, and their popularity remains high today. Given their tropical history, they are not particularly cold hardy, so don’t plan to make them a part of this container too early in the spring.
Rustic Hanging Container
The most important key to this rustic aesthetic is being sure not to overplant the container. You are sure to love the look of this arrangement when you give the flowers space to breathe. This weathered, rusty metal bucket—another incredible flea market find—is studded with periwinkles, the profusely blooming Rieger begonias, coleus, and other annuals. But what it is not is overcrowded, which could keep the plants from getting adequate light. For even more rustic, Southern-inspired charm, try suspending this arrangement on a branch. This will add to the casual, easy-does-it feeling.
Rustic Tabletop Container
A simple galvanized-metal toolbox is an unexpected container-gardening vessel that fits into an all-natural springtime setup. Here, it showcases a classic arrangement of bright green spearmint, red geraniums, and white sweet alyssums, for a container that feels both light and fresh. You’ll also love how easy it is to move this around the garden thanks to the built-in handle. What you’ll love the most, though, is the rustic charm of the weathered metal contrasting with the soft and subtle colors of the flowers. This is a beautiful study in hard and soft elements in container garden design.
Romantic Freestanding Container
Sit back and imagine this classic cast-metal urn in a dreamy garden or on a light-filled screened porch. The urn itself is styled with classic Victorian lines, giving it a romantic element, but it is the arrangement that truly makes it magical. The key to designing this look is combining contrasting textures. Here, grassy cordyline, puffy pink dianthus, sweeping ‘Ace of Spades’ sweet potato vine, dainty blue lobelia, and spires of pink angelonia all come together in a cascade and crescendo of bright color and loud celebration. Set against the beautiful shape, but simple monochrome tone, of the vase, this creates a show-stopping container for your home garden.
Romantic Hanging Container
This romantic container garden captures the feelings of magic and mystery through its bright colors and beautiful sense of movement. To achieve these effects, you’ll want to try varying the scale of flowers and greenery to produce the wildly untamed, 'growing in a garden' feel that keeps this basket relaxed. Beginning by selecting this sphagnum moss-lined metal hanging basket, larger dianthus then blend with smaller petunias, while variegated English ivy and tiny baby’s tears dangle over the sides. The effect is the sense of beauty in bloom, bursting forth in wonder from this colorful basket.
Romantic Tabletop Container
Planting in layers is an integral part of putting together this stunning container. Though the handmade bowl that makes up the centerpiece of this gorgeous arrangement may look delicate, it’s made of concrete and recycled materials. Its wide shape accommodates many of the same flowers and plants used in the other two 'Romantic Containers,' just in a more whimsical container display that looks like a flourishing flower arrangement. If you select flowers like dianthus, you will certainly be starting this Romantic Tabletop Container with the right colors, tones, and shapes. Its impact will be elegant, and entirely beautiful. Settle in at the table for an evening drink, or a casual conversation, and let the romance blossom.
Romantic Wall Swag Container
This abundantly rich and vibrant design puts the flowers in the spotlight. These will literally and figuratively be a beautiful sight. Perched atop a painted brick wall, the sleek container is covered by the overflowing blooms, which include sweeping pink petunias, super-delicate baby’s tears, and rounded clusters of rose-pink dianthus. For this arrangement, the focus is entirely on the flowers. In fact, the hidden pot is merely here to offer grounding support. Depending on your design, you may even wish to consider a series of these containers as a way to highlight a garden wall and bring color and emphasis to something you might have always wished to ignore. You won’t have to imagine the beauty—it will be right in front of you.
Geraniums Built for the South
Southerners used to have to choose between geraniums that could handle high temperatures and humidity and those that produced lots of flowers. But this sad state of either-or is no more since Calliope-series geraniums were developed to offer the best of both worlds. This one's called 'Dark Red,' and it forms the centerpiece of a container filled to bursting with bright color and subtle greenery. Here, the filler forms a backdrop to the bold geraniums, and bring height, while the weathered container gives a sense of contrast against the masonry-and-mortar design elements of the courtyard. Let these geraniums burst forth with color in your Southern garden—temperature and humidity are no problem at all!
Bring On the Sun
Here it comes—a beautiful container in the sun, that is. This high-drama, low-maintenance container spotlights 'Variegated Spreading Salmon' SunPatiens, but leaves room for a foxtail asparagus fern and a 6-inch pot of 'Neon' pothos. Everything is set in a glazed-ceramic container, its bright green finish complementing the natural colors of the plantings. This is a beautiful example of the keeping it simple container-garden aesthetic. Let the SunPatiens—a strain that resulted from a cross between a New Guinea hybrids and a wild species—be the bright, central focus of this arrangement. Then, let everything else simply help them shine.
Show Your True Colors
Everyone in the South understands that college sports are a fun-filled family pastime, and what better way to show and share your team spirit than to bring your favorite colors into your container garden? This beautiful design brings the Bengal Tigers—the plants in this LSU-themed container all thrive in part sun and moist potting mix. You’ll find a range of shades of purple from bright and bold, to subtle and sublime, all set in a celebratory container. You can take this idea and substitute the colors of your favorite team for a seasonal celebration that brings together nature and culture—and what could be better?
Let's hear it for elephant's ear! Its oversize leaves—the secret to this stately combination—create drama through scale. And they allow you to fill in the blanks with tiny, colorful flowers. This arrangement is set in a concrete urn with an aggregate texture to give it a weathered, antiqued finish. You’ll love how the delicate flowers soften the feel of the urn itself. One of the beautiful wonders of elephant’s ear is that it flowers first, and then fruits. The fruit has been described as making the stem look like corn on the cob. Whatever you think, it looks gorgeous in your summertime container.
Meet Miss Lantana
Tougher than Clint Eastwood, lantana parties in heat, chortles at drought, and blooms in a slew of sunny colors from spring to fall. Plus, its nectar-laden flowers attract pretty butterflies like moths to a flame. This beautiful plant is native to America, so if you want to focus on plants that will attract or entice wildlife, this can be a good choice. Lantana is also generally resistant to deer—they don’t find it particularly attractive, even though you will. So plant a container or two of this wonderful, durable plant, then sit back and wait for your fluttering-winged visitors to arrive.
A Quick Container Combo
This deck-top container garden is a study in variation in similarity, proving just how beautiful the simple repetition of a shape or color can be in creating a relaxing outdoor space. Here, three ceramic containers in a subtle shade of turquoise hold a variety of beautiful plants. In the largest pot, working from back to front and tallest to shortest, densely plant 'Liberty Classic Yellow' snapdragon, 'Bouquet Rose Magic' dianthus, and 'Tickled Pink' veronica. Place 'New Look' dusty miller and 'Lemon Ball' sedum in the front to trail over the edge. Pack a powerful, single-note punch in the two smaller pots by planting 'Supertunia Vista Bubblegum' petunia in the midsize container and more sedum in the smallest.
Similar pots: wayfair.com
Watch: No-Fail Formula for Container Gardens
Tulips, Pansies, Acorus, Heuchera, Ivy and Fern
Your garden will seem wild, and it will certainly be full of life, when you have some 'Tiger' fern (a selection of Boston fern) in your container garden. Pair it with your tulips, Lavender Blue' and 'Purple Wing' Plentifall pansies, acorus, heuchera, and variegated ivy. These simply shaped concrete pots enhance any outdoor environment. Their angled geometry pairs well with the color and movement sprouting out of their tops. Let the plants grow and flow—the containers keep them just where you want them, creating a great harmony of color, and, as they drape over the edges, you’ll see where Plentifall pansies got their name.
Check Etsy for similar pots.
Warm and Cheerful Trio
Heat-tolerant geraniums, calibrachoas, and mecardonias in bright red, yellow, and purple shout a welcome in a cheerful way. For the most part, we’ve filled these whitewashed pots to bursting with a single color of each, showing how to create harmony from the variations between each element. This approach works well, creating a single environment for each container, making the task of watering and fertilizing, and sun simple. Whatever plants you choose, make sure they thrive in similar conditions. All three of these plants are heat-tolerant, making them perfect for grouping together.
One of the best ways to keep your garden looking fresh is to take advantage of seasonal sales at your local nursery, and to stock up on popular plants. And, since you want them to look beautiful until it is time to make them permanent additions to the landscape, keep them in their nursery pots. Then, display them in galvanized buckets on the porch until you are ready to plant them in your garden. You can easily recreate this look with gerbera daisies, salvias, shasta daisies, daylilies, and sweet potato vines. Look for similar pots at gardening or home-supply stores.
Similar galvanized pots here.
Grow Daffodils in Containers
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 than daffodils, and few bulbs signal the arrival of spring more readily than these. These are in classic terra cotta pots, but daffodils look fantastic in any container, from traditional to modern, so choose whatever works best in your garden.
Add a Tropical Punch
Are you dreaming of a summer vacation, but the only thing on the horizon is more heat and humidity? This may not be a balmy getaway, but bringing the Tropics to your doorstep is a breeze with this combo: this beautiful container with a water-inspired glaze has a gorgeous array of plants that burst forth like a sunburst on a bright day. You’ll love giant-leaved, sunny ‘Maui Gold’ elephant’s ear; heavily blooming, fiery orange SunPatiens; velvety, fragrant citronella plant; purple iridescent Persian shield; and a heavenly skirt of angel vine spilling down the sides. If you listen closely you will be able to hear the ocean.
Similar pot here.
Brighten a Shady Spot
You’ll be planning window boxes everywhere you can once you see how beautiful and simple this arrangement is—and how much it brightens this once-empty shady space on the side of the house. 'Aaron' caladium, holly fern, 'Key Lime Pie' heuchera, 'White Nancy' lamium, ivy, and light pink periwinkle come together in this eye-catching window box. This box emerges in a subtle sea of layers, each adding depth and color to the other. What is so unexpected is how easily this box stays in a palette of greens and yellows, relying on tone and variation to create a melody of color and shape. It may be a window box, but it is anything but boxed in.
Fill a Big Container
The pitchfork may suggest a little 'American Gothic'—but the beautiful star here is the freestanding flower container. Here, we make a statement with a this large, overflowing planter that can work equally against a blank wall, at the perimeter of a parking court, or on the edge of a terrace. Fill it with 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, coleus, 'Supertunia Vista Bubblegum' petunia, and geranium. Ours is weathered, and it will only patina further over time. Let it happen. This is part of the beauty of natural materials like wood—and this beauty is only enhanced further by vibrant flowers.
Snapdragons, Penny Violas, Tulips, Parsley and Ivy
One of the beauties of container gardening is the ability to create visual variety. Containers are the perfect canvas for unique approaches to color, texture, and composition. These showy snapdragons, in a cacophony of bold colors, add height to your containers. They pair well with a mixture of flowers that will act as your fillers and spillers, including Penny violas, tulips, parsley, and ivy. Each of these has its own wonder and surprise, rich with color, tone, and texture. This container garden feels incredibly expansive without taking up a great deal of space, so it works well in any number of locations.
Yes, you read that right. This does say collard greens, and they really are one of our picks for a fantastic container garden. 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. Durable, versatile, and beautiful, they are also incredibly enticing visually, and imbued with a range of tonal variation. They work well in differently sized containers. This galvanized-metal tub is filled with collards, creating an intimate container garden. Use them in situations where you would like simplicity to come to the fore.
Learn how to plant and care for collards
Pink Nature-Inspired Planters
The natural hues of the sweet potato vine and pennisetum make the trio of pink geraniums, petunias, and angelonias pop. Petunias look incredible in containers because they come in an amazing array of colors. They’ve also been adapted to grow well in our humid Southern climate, and often bloom continuously from spring until fall. Take advantage of all the eye-stopping excitement that will bring to your front porch. Here we’ve used three different sizes of pressed-metal planters with decorative embossing and a copper-toned finish to hold these incredible container fancies.
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. How often you need to water or fertilize your terrarium will depend upon the type of plants you choose, but this is a beautiful way to enjoy container gardening.
Evergreens and Annuals
One of the challenges with container gardening can be retaining visual beauty through changing seasons. This thoughtful approach puts that problem to rest. The solution is to think of every container as having a 'keeper'—a durable plant that continues from season to season—with a plant that may require more attention. For this beautiful pair of urns we’ve partnered colorful annuals with an evergreen for an established planting that can still change from season to season. With ivy spilling over the sides, and 'Pandora’s Box' violas providing bold tones, these planters are pure excitement. In general, violas are more tolerant of temperature variation than the botanically similar pansies.
Bring on Spring!
This container is as sensual as it is beautiful, creating a multisensory sensation. It combines a burst of daffodils with bold hues and fragrant seasonal blooms for colorful containers that keep on giving. This trio combines floriferous 'Superbells Dreamsicle' calibrachoa, the delicately fragrant and easy-to-grow 'Snow Princess' sweet alyssum, and cool-weather 'Sunsatia Lemon' nemesia. Tonally, these bolt towards the warm end of the color spectrum, and are rich with deep oranges and yellows, tempered by touches of white throughout. Even separately, every one of these would be a visual delight. Together, the interplay of each with the other is intoxicating.
Pansies, Violas, Panolas, Grass & Ivy
To truly celebrate the joy of container gardening, take the time to change your containers to reflect the colors of the season. For this fantastic arrangement of bold, bright pots, orange pansies, violas, and Panolas provide a warm autumnal welcome to everyone who you welcome to your home. It is always important to experiment with composition to make a growing garden a visual delight, so try pairing colorful and distinctive flowers like these with a textural plant, like a grass. You’ll love the lush, full carpet of green the grass creates, punctuated by the bright bursts of color that the flowers provide.
Magnolia, Spider Plant & Caladiums
You’ll be phobia-free about welcoming these spiders into your home—spider plants, that is. For this flowing composition that can create color throughout your garden, Red ‘Freida Hemple’ caladiums, a spider plant, and a ‘Little Gem’ Southern magnolia decorate a large pot in the corner. This helps hide a downspout, and fills the space with bright beauty. Working with the idea that repetition creates rhythm, and that builds to a harmonious container garden, smaller pots of the same caladiums tie the grouping together. The boldness of the plants is contrasted with the simple, neutral containers. Think of using natural tones in stone and off-white for these outdoor container compositions.
Container gardens are perfect ways to highlight the elegance of simplicity. This succulent garden is a perfect example of having individual plantings in single containers, allowing each to reflect its unique leaf shape and form complemented by the architecture of the container. Using various decorative ground covers jazzes up your potted plantings—these are enhanced with beautiful selections of natural stone. The highlight of this design is a potted blue agave surrounded by pebbles serves as a living sculpture on this deck. The smooth stones inside the container reflect the larger stones around its base, creating a synthesis of inside and out.
Using plantings is a simple but sophisticated way to enliven your outdoor table. For hot, dry climates, drought-tolerant plants are the perfect way to go. This shallow bowl of mixed succulents makes a great centerpiece, creating a mixture of tones, shapes, and textures. When considering plantings for this type of arrangement, echeverias, sedums, and other similar plantings work well. Look for types that will create visual interest as they grow, and consider containers that can create long, shallow, and low spaces for these great green wonders to develop. You’ll love how harmonious these succulents are together. They are great low-maintenance plants that will last until frost.
Grasses & Caladiums
Sometimes design is actually all about the form rather than the function—like when plants with distinctive visual features create amazing sights in a gorgeous garden setting. For such an approach to work, you’ll have to pay special attention to how the forms work together. For this design, textural plants construct a beautiful sense of high drama. This homeowner helped to create this sensation by adding spiky and vertical plants, such as ornamental grasses and caladiums, to her pots. Against the vast, multileveled, linear expanse of her back garden, with its beautiful pool, she created a sense of lightness and height simply by using plants that were always reaching towards the sky. Let your container gardens aim high!
Sweet Flag & Creeping Jenny
If you are tempted to let your container garden run just a little wild, then plantings like these may help create that perfect sense of cultured mess that you’re after. Just plan to 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. One, contained, lifts the eyes, while the other gently creates a delicate, soft carpet of green that creeps towards a comfortable seating area. This is for when the garden is not totally wild, but it is just wild enough.
Bigger is not always better, and a judicious use of these tiny succulents is a case in point why. Rather than overwhelm small spaces with large plantings, here is a great lesson in how to 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. This creates a contemplative moment of intimacy and pause, a time for simple reflection, and a sense of communion with these delicate plants. These tiny plants are like a whisper in the garden, quietly asserting what it is they have to say.
Lettuce & Ornamentals
Use unique containers like vintage wooden boxes and buckets is a great way to bring harmony and symmetry to any container gardens. Since these are not designed with planting in mind, to make them function well be sure to drill drainage holes in each before planting. For a new take on the living and eating local approach, this variety of planters is filled with a mix of simple to grow and harvest edibles, like lettuce, and decoratives, like marigolds and geraniums. How better to bring the useful and the beautiful together in one simple, enjoyable idea—container gardening?