A container garden cheat sheet

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Ok, with a show of hands, who loves creating container gardens? We do, too, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to show you a few of our favourite container combos. Jessica’s are shady superstars, Niki’s includes touchable textures, and Tara’s container features an unusual edible. Can you guess what it is? We also want to hear about your favourite container garden plants and combinations – leave a comment, or tag us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica says: There is so much I love about this container planting! First, the container itself is pretty cool. I love the dark slate blue against the Pennsylvania fieldstone patio. The fleur-de-lis (French for “flower of the lily”) pattern on the pot complements the swirls of the ‘Escargot’ begonia foliage. It’s hard to believe there are only three plants in this container – a red dragon wing begonia, an ‘Escargot’ begonia, and a ZZ plant (also called a Zanzibar Gem – Zamioculcas zamiifolia). Some gardeners think it’s difficult to have a lot of texture and color in shade containers, but this is proof that growing gorgeous container plantings doesn’t require full sun.

container for shade

Jessica’s stylish, yet simple shady pot.

I also love the bold, dark color palette in the planter below because it’s so different than what you normally see in summer containers. The color combination is wonderful! The contrast of the dark purple oxalis with the chartreuse coleus and trailing fuchsia really makes this container pop. This bold planter would be perfect on the front step or tucked into a shady corner in the garden. Another bonus? These plants can be be brought into the house in the fall and overwintered in a sunny window. The oxalis might go dormant and lose its foliage during the winter, but it will reappear in the spring, ready to go for another season.

container gardening ideas

The purple oxalis in this container provides a dramatic contrast to the chartreuse coleus.

Niki says: This container was thrown together last May from leftover plants I hadn’t quite found a home for – hence the rather (ahem) simple fibre pot. That said, by mid-summer, those random bits grew together into a gorgeous combination that offered continuous colour, touchable texture and even soothing sound from the rustling of the Purple Fountain Grass. Beneath the grass, I tucked Supertunia Black Cherry, annual geraniums and mounding nasturtiums, which are hidden from view in this photo. The grass began to bloom by late July and continued into October, making this a three-season container. Gardeners know that it’s often the unexpected that proves to be the most beautiful and this container reminded me to never underestimate the power of ‘leftover plants’.

A sunny seaside planting of grasses & Supertunias.

A sunny, seaside planting of grasses and Supertunias.

Tara says: I really liked this colour combo that I put together for my urn a few years back – a mix of lime greens and pinks. It really popped from the street and thrived throughout the hot, dry summer.

The lime green hues were provided by the ‘Wasabi’ coleus tucked in the back on the right and the ‘Goldi’ creeping Jenny spilling over the front (by the end of the season, it was trailing over really nicely). The pink blooms included a gerbera daisy (you can only see the foliage on the left in this photo),pink dahlias and Lanai Twister Pink verbena, which was the most successful plant in this arrangement. The “cherry” on top is the height provided by a lemongrass plant. It thrived through the fall and was handy when I needed a sprig for a recipe.

Edible and ornamental container

Tara’s container garden has an edible plant – can you spot it?

If you’d like more ideas for great container garden designs, or advice on caring for container gardens, check out the book Container Gardening Complete by one of our Savvy Gardening contributors, Jessica Walliser. 

Container gardening book

More great container gardening ideas here on the blog:

Tell us about your favorite container combinations in the comment section below. 

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Use this container gardening cheat sheet to design four gorgeous, colorful container gardens for your patio, porch, or deck.

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2 Responses to A container garden cheat sheet

  1. Betty Slaunwhite says:

    I have ten whiskey barrels on my sunny deck. I would like to sow all the seeds to plant in them. I don’t want to purchase any. Do you have any suggestions to what seeds would create a spectacular container. Any help would be helpful. Perhaps you guys can have a challenge to design different types of containers from seeds!!

    • Hi Betty – Profusion Zinnias grow beautifully from seed and are the perfect height for containers. You could also include sweet alyssum, cosmos, bells of Ireland, love-in-a-mist, nasturtiums, and dwarf sunflower varieties such as ‘Double Dandy’ and ‘MicroSun’. All are easily grown from seed and perform very well in full-sun conditions. Let us know how they do!

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