Easy, All-Foliage Container Garden Recipes

Rely on plants with great-looking foliage to keep your container gardens looking great all season long. Get started with these easy recipes.

By Ruth Rogers Clausen

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glazed square pot
Try Subtle Colors

    Colors don't have to be bold and bright to create great-looking container garden. Just like indoor decor, you can make a statement with neutrals, as seen in this lovely planting.

    A. Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') -- 1
    B. Coleus (Solenosemon 'Penney') -- 2
    C. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie') -- 1

Make It Easy with Drought-Tolerant Plants

    This use of succulents in a stone trough is trendy and modern. It's also extra-easy to care for as the plants require little water.

    A. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) -- 4
    B. Sedum spathulifolium -- 5
    C. Sedum commixtum -- 6

Try the Minimalist Look

    Modern and minimalist: This container looks good just about everywhere. Because this easy-growing succulent requires minimal watering, it'll be a stunner even if you forget to water it from time to time. Echeveria is a good houseplant, too, so you can bring it indoors at season's end and enjoy it all year long.

    A. Echeveria 'Red Tide' -- 1

Create a Low-Care Container

    A mix of colorful, drought-tolerant sedums creates foliage interest from spring to late summer; then in fall, they'll burst into bloom providing yet another season of interest. Bonus: Plant these perennials in your garden as they finish blooming and you can enjoy them again next year.

    A. Sedum 'Matrona' -- 2
    B. Sedum makinoi 'Ogon' -- 1
    C. Sedum 'Red Cauli' -- 1

Go with a Grassy Look

    Grasses and similar-looking plants have great texture. We love that this combo is as easy to care for as it is beautiful. These tough plants will look as great at the end of the season as they did when you planted them.

    A. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax 'Pink Stripe') -- 1
    B. Sedge (Carex testacea) -- 5

Create a Crisp, Clean Look

    Using silver and white gives you a clean, elegant look that fits well with any garden style. We love how the mix of textures adds to the design.

    A. Plectranthus argentatus -- 2
    B. Verbena 'Babylon White' -- 3
    C. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Variegatum') -- 3
    D. Dusty Miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa 'Colchester White') -- 1

Go for the Dark Side

    This oxalis offers deep purple foliage that creates depth and mystery. Oxalis grows well as a houseplant, too, so you can bring it in at the end of the season for year-round appeal.

    A. Oxalis regnellii 'Charmed Wine' -- 5

Look for Unusual Plants

    Extra-special plants can make a big difference. Here, dracaena (a common houseplant) creates a tropical touch when used outdoors -- especially against a stunning taffeta plant.

    A. Beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii) -- 2
    B. Taffeta plant (Hoffmannia ghiesbreghtii) -- 1
    C. Dracaena 'Song of India' -- 2

Go Bold with Color

    Pick your plants wisely and you can enjoy a colorful container of fine foliage. Here, a variety of coleus create drama and impact without a single bloom.

    A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Kiwi Fern') -- 1
    B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Brilliancy') -- 1
    C. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial') -- 1
    D. Golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum') -- 1
    E. Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Sashay') -- 1
    F. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Kingwood Torch') -- 1

Be Creative with Your Container

    Mix fun foliage with an interesting container to create season-long good looks. Watch for fun containers -- or embellish the pots you already have with paint or other decorations for a unique display that fits your personality perfectly.

    A. Canna 'Phasion' -- 1
    B. Canna 'Tropicanna' -- 1
    C. Caladium 'Florida Red Ruffles' 1
    D. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Happy Thought') -- 1
    E. Impatiens balsimina 'Ice' Series -- 1

Accent Foliage with Flowers

    The mix of textures in this container look good by themselves, but a fragrant rose creates the perfect complement to top it off.

    A. Plectranthus coleoides marginata -- 1
    B. Dusty Miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa 'Colchester White') -- 2
    C. Rose (Rosa 'Winsome') -- 1

Enjoy Old-Fashioned Appeal

    This beautiful container takes advantage of color and textural contrasts to create interest. The bright golden-yellow coleus sets off the silver and black trailing plants while the fountain grass adds height and texture.

    A. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) -- 3
    B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie') -- 3
    C. Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') -- 1
    D. Coleus (Solensostemon 'Life Line') -- 2

Change with the Seasons

    A rustic container requires a rustic, informal approach. The ivy and licorice plant will look good all season long. Switch out bloomers as they fade to keep your container looking fresh from first thing in spring to the very end of the season.

    A. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight') -- 2
    B. Viola cornuta 'Azure Wing' -- 2
    C. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Buttercup') -- 2

Add Waves of Color

    Use different plants habits to create lots of interest. Here, draping sweet potato vine and licorice plant create a striking contrast against the upright shapes of beefsteak plant and plectranthus.

    A. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie') -- 3
    B. Plectranthus coleoides marginata -- 1
    C. Beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii) -- 1
    D. Marigold (Tagetes 'Lemon Gem') -- 1
    E. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) -- 3

Create the Illusion of Movement

    Use plants' shapes to create the look of movement. Here, the gentle curve of tapeworm plant draws the eye up from a dark mass of coleus.

    A. Tapeworm plant (Homalocladium platycladum) -- 1
    B. Elephant's ear (Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty') -- 1
    C. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) -- 1
    D. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier') -- 1
    E. Coleus (Solenosemon 'Purple Duckfoot') -- 1

Add Sensory Appeal

    Add an extra dimension to your container gardens with fragrance. Here, a collection of herbs look as good as they smell.

    A. Purple sage (Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea') -- 2
    B. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) -- 3
    C. Golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum') -- 2

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