36 Container Garden Ideas to Inspire Your Own Pretty Plantings

If you love planting container gardens but don’t know where to start, check out our recipes for the perfect containers, complete with plant suggestions.

trailing plants and pink and purple flowers in planter

If you love planting container gardens but don't know where to start, check out our slide show of 36 recipes you can follow for success. Find your perfect container for gardening in our collection of container garden recipes.

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Cottage-Style Container Garden

cottage-style window planter with petunia verbena salvia

Create a perfect cottage container garden in a window by using soft shades of pink and purple and plants that have loose, open shapes. Here, petunias, licorice plant, and verbena do the job perfectly. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie') — 1

B. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) — 1

C. Petunia 'Carpet Lilac' — 2

D. Verbena 'Aztec Pink Magic'— 1

E. Wishbone flower (Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue') — 1

F. Salvia 'Lady in Red'— 1

G. Petunia 'Ramblin White'— 1

H. Petunia 'Pink Daddy' — 1

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Galvanized Pot Containers

window with sap-bucket containers of petunias

A beautiful window box container garden can be simple or complex. Here, colorful petunias in interesting galvanized pots have just as much impact as a many-hued combination. This planting grows best in a spot that gets full sun.

A. Petunia 'Wave Pink' — 1

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Dramatic Full Sun Container Garden

pink and purple flowers in fence hanging planter

Use contrasting colors to create drama in your container for gardening. Here, shades of purple mix well together—and make a stunning contrast for a salmon geranium. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Lobelia erinus — 3

B. Petunia 'Blue Velvet' — 1

C. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Fantasia Salmon') — 2

D. Viola 'Sorbet Purple Duet'— 2

E. Lavender pink petunia — 1

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Tropical Container Garden

tall container garden with hibiscus and salvia

Create a container for gardening that will attract attention by using bold colors and tropical plants. Here, a tree-form hibiscus adds even more appeal. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis — 1

B. Japanese bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra') — 3

C. Salvia (Salvia splendens) — 3

D. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens 'Celebration Deep Red') — 3

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Perennial Container Gardens

You can add perennials to any container garden for year-after-year beauty. Stick to the well-known rule of having a spiller, a thriller and a filler plant in each container.

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Yellow Container Garden

pot with dwarf sunflowers snapdragons marigolds

Bright shades of yellow catch the eye, even across the yard, in this sunny container for gardening. Here, golden sunflowers with their big, bold blooms make an impact. This cheery container grows best in full sun.

A. Dwarf sunflower (Helianthus 'Elf') — 3

B. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum 'Yellow Chimes') — 6

C. Celosia 'Fresh Look Yellow' — 3

D. Marigold (Tagetes 'Janie Bright Yellow') — 4

E. Lysimachia 'Outback Sunset' — 3

F. Potato vine (Solanum jasminoides 'Variegata') — 2

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Scent-Focused Planter

container garden with miniature roses and ivy

Great container gardens appeal to several senses. Here, a hybrid rose and thyme offer scents as good as their looks. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Miniature rose (Rosa spp.) — 1

B. Creeping thyme (Thymus spp.) — 3

C. English ivy (Hedera helix) — 3

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Heat- and Humidity-Tolerant Container Garden

monochromatic terra cotta planter with canna plant

Plan properly if you need to keep a container for gardening in a tough spot. Here, for example, canna, lantana, and maidengrass stand up to heat and humidity to look good all summer long. This planting grows best in full sun or partial shade.

A. Canna 'Pretoria' — 2

B. Lantana 'Lucky White' — 4

C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Dappled Dawn') — 1

D. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Dark Frills') — 2

E. Vinca major 'Variegata' — 3

F. Melampodium paludosum — 1

G. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') — 1

H. Maidengrass (Miscanthus sinensis) — 1

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Ornamental Grass Planter

large terra cotta pot with ornamental grass

Use ornamental grasses to add height and texture to any container for gardening. Here, purple fountaingrass adds extra color, too. This planting grows best in partial shade.

A. Purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') — 2

B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Sun Velvet Red') — 3

C. Plectranthus 'Variegatus' — 2

D. Impatiens 'Dazzler Pink' — 2

E. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) — 2

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Succulent Container Gardens

We'll never get bored of succulents—they come in so many shapes and colors! Succulents make the perfect low-maintenance container garden. Learn the secrets to a successful succulent container.

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Colorful Foliage Container

shallow traditional planter with coleus varieties

With fantastic foliage, you don't even need flowers in a container for gardening. Look for plants that have colorful foliage, such as the coleus used here. This planting grows best in partial shade.

A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Black Dragon') — 3

B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Wizard Jade') — 3

C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Dress Me Up') — 3

D. Ruellia brittoniana — 1

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Bloomless Container Garden

partial-shade container garden with interest

Here's another example of how you can create a great bloomless container when planting a container for gardening with interesting foliage. A purple phormium contrasts delightfully with a golden-variegated plectranthus. This planting grows best in partial shade.

A. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) — 1

B. Plectranthus 'Easy Gold' — 2

C. Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) — 2

D. Silver thyme (Thymus 'Argenteus') — 1

E. Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) — 1

F. Philodendron 'Prince of Orange' — 1

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Creative Container Garden Vessel

wheelbarrow planter with cardoon perilla diascia

Planting in a great pot can make all the difference in a container for gardening. Here, an old rusty wheelbarrow makes a charming container garden. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) — 1

B. Perilla 'Magilla' — 3

C. Diascia 'Diamonte Lavender Pink'— 3

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Carefully Repetitive Planter

fiber optic grass coralbells flax geramium and calamondin

Repeating an element is one of the most effective tools of garden design. It applies to containers for gardening, too. Here, purple New Zealand flax and coralbells go together, as well as the arching form of the flax and the fiber optic grass. This planting grows best in partial sun.

A. Fiber optic grass (Scirpus cernuus) — 1

B. Coralbells (Heuchera 'Amethyst Mist') — 1

C. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) — 1

D. Variegated geranium (Pelargonium 'Happy Thought') — 1

E. Calamondin (Citrofortunella microcarpa) — 1

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Video: Container Garden Design Tips

Watch this quick video for tips on creating your own stunning container gardens.

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Monochromatic Container Garden

ostrich fern and canary island ivy in patina planter

You don't need lots of color for a gorgeous container garden. Here, different shades of green and interesting textures combine delightfully. This planting grows best in full shade.

A. Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) — 1

B. Canary Island ivy (Hedera canariensis) — 3

C. Sanvitalia 'Little Sun' — 3

D. Plectranthus 'Variegata' — 3

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Shades of Green Container

outdoor lush monochromatic hanging planter

Here's another example of how mixing shades of green can look great in a container for gardening. As the season progresses, the sweet potato vine and licorice plant will trail down and cover the pot. This planting grows in sun or shade.

A. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') — 2

B. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight') — 2

C. Bacopa (Sutera cordata) — 3

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Container Garden With Colorful Annuals

pale colored blooms in wicker basket container garden

Don't be intimidated if you don't have full sun. A mix of colorful annuals, such as the ones shown here, will bloom all summer long—even in full shade.

A. White Begonia (B. x tuberhybrida) — 2

B. Browallia speciosa — 2

C. Impatiens 'Super Elfin Salmon Blush' — 2

D. Lobelia erinus 'Regatta Lilac' — 1

E. Hedera helix — 1

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Multi-Tasking Container Garden

begonia persian shield and wishbone flower in container

Keep in mind that containers can do double-duty. Here, a combination of low-growing plants works perfectly as a centerpiece for a party or as an accent on a wall, bench, table, or other structure. This container for gardening grows best in shade.

A. Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) — 2

B. Begonia 'Cocktail Vodka' — 2

C. Wishbone flower (Torenia 'Clown Mix') — 3

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Choosing the Right Pot

Sometimes the container itself is just as important as the plants you put in it. Learn how to choose the right pot for your next container garden.

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Dynamic Planter

bleeding heart and english ivy in metal planter

Swap plants out through the season to create different looks. Here for example, this bleeding heart looks beautiful in spring. Once it fades, plant it in the garden and grow fragrant purple heliotrope in the container instead. This planting grows best in shade.

A. Dicentra spectabilis—1

B. Impatiens 'Ole Starburst'—3

C. Variegated ground ivy Glechoma hederacea 'Variegata'—3

D. Bacopa Sutera cordata 'Abunda White'—1

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Fragrant Container Garden

container basket with herbs and scented geraniums

Favorite scented plants fill a terra-cotta pot tucked into a sturdy basket. Herbs and scented geraniums, in particular, offer a vast array of tantalizing fragrances, depending on the plants you choose.

A. Eucalyptus

B. Heliotrope Heliotropium spp.

C. Scented geranium 'Attar of Roses' Pelargonium

D. Lavender lavandula angustifolia

E. Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima

F. Plectranthus ciliatus 'Vanilla Twist'

G. Lobelia erinus

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Textural Planter

blue planter on steps chenille plant grass

The irresistible textures of this display will encourage you to place it near a bench or entryway, where it can easily be seen and touched.

A. Northern sea oats Chasmanthium latifolium

B. Fiber optic grass Scirpus cernuus

C. Ageratum 'Artist Blue'

D. Silver sage Salvia argentea

E. Chenille plant Acalypha hispida

F. Lavender lavandula angustifolia

G. Helichrysum petiolare 'Lemon Licorice'

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Punchy Container Garden

elevated white planter with salvia zinnia alyssum lobelia

A bright punch of color makes a splash in this sensational planter that blooms from spring into fall. A 1-inch-deep layer of pea gravel in the bottom of the container facilitates drainage.

A. Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'

B. Zinnia 'Profusion Orange'; 'Profusion Pink'

C. Osteospermum 'Symphony'

D. Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima

E. Sanvitalia

F. Lobelia erinus 'Compact Blue'

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Salad Container Garden

A container garden that's equal parts functional and beautiful, this salad container garden gives you fresh produce at your fingertips.

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Pollinator-Friendly Container Garden

corrugated planter on table with flowers and plants

Careful plant selection turns up the volume in this potted scheme. Rustling grasses tease eardrums, while other plants attract bees and birds that add their own sounds to the garden.

A. Ornamental millet 'Purple Majesty' Pennisetum glaucum

B. Gaura lindheimeri

C. Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa

D. Heucherella 'Quicksilver'

E. Variegated sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas

F. Trailing snapdragon Antirrhinum majus

G. Chartreuse sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas

H. Lantana

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Edible Container Garden

wooden box planter on brick steps with edibles

An aged wooden box outfitted with a plastic liner features edible picks that are mild to peppery in flavor. Edible flowers are best eaten by the petals, rather than whole, so you can savor their typically delicate flavors.

A. Miniature rose Rosa

B. Dill Anethum graveolens

C. Grape tomato

D. Mint Mentha spp.

E. Zinnia

F. Parsley Petroselinum crispum

G. Dianthus

H. Nasturtium Tropaeolum

I. Sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas

J. Sage Salvia 'Tricolo'

K. Viola

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Centered Container Garden

lobelia basketgrass elephant plant in terra cotta pot

Bold plants can be focal points in the landscape. A single plant can work the same way for a container garden, as this deep purple pseuderanthemum shows here. This planting thrives in sun or shade.

A. Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum—2

B. Lobelia erinus 'Periwinkle Blue'—3

C. Basketgrass Oplismenus hirtellus 'Variegatus'—3

D. Plectranthus 'Uvongo'—3

E. Elephant plant Portulacaria afra 'Variegata'—3

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Butterfly Planter

purple trailing lantana thyme coleus cat's whiskers

Add even more interest to your container plantings by using them to attract butterflies. Here, butterfly favorites, including lantana, will appeal to you as much as they do your winged visitors.

A. Coleus Solenostemon 'Kiwi Fern'—2

B. Cat's whiskers Orthosiphon stamineus—3

C. Purple trailing Lantana—3

D. Silver thyme Thymus 'Argenteus'—1

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Drought-Tolerant Container Garden

You can have a garden even if you're an avid traveler. Learn how to create a container garden that will withstand your summer vacation.

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Blended Container Garden

million bells coleus and snapdragon container garden

Mix plants that have attractive flowers with plants grown for their foliage and you'll have an extra-appealing container for gardening. Here, purple summer snapdragon and golden coleus will look great all summer. This planting grows best in sun or part shade.

A. Alternanthera 'Red Thread'—2

B. Million bells Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Terra Cotta'—3

C. Summer snapdragon Angelonia 'AngelMist Deep Plum'—2

D. Coleus Solenostemon 'Blond Bombshell'—1

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Variegated Foliage Container Garden

container with coleus bacopa and sweet potato vine

Use variegated foliage to create more visual drama in your container gardens. Here, a simple coleus does the trick, and is enhanced by the dark purple potato vine. This planting grows best in partial shade.

A. Coleus Solenostemon 'Green Earrings'—3

B. Sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'—1

C. Bacopa Sutera 'Abunda Blue'—5

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Unusual Planter

sweet potato vine lions ear container garden

Incorporate unusual plants to give your container gardens extra zing. Here, tall lion's ear adds to an already-beautiful combination. This planting grows best in sun.

A. Sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita'—1

B. Caricature plant Graptophyllum pictum—1

C. Silver sage Salvia argentea—1

D. Lion's ear Leonotis menthaefolia—1

E. Million bells Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Terra Cotta'—2

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Distinctive Container Garden

dramatic container with cardoon diascia and coleus

Here's another example of using a bold plant to create drama in a container for gardening. Here, silvery cardoon's size, color, and texture make an impact. It grows best in full sun.

A. Cardoon Cynara cardunculus—1

B. Diascia 'Sun Chimes Red'—4

C. Coleus Solenostemon 'Rose Queen'—3

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Container Garden With Ornamental Plants

ornamental grasses and plants for texture in pot

Ornamental grasses add texture to any container for gardening. Here, purple fountaingrass rises up like fireworks out of a collection of bold, beautiful plants. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Purple fountaingrass Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'—2

B. Dusty miller Centaurea 'Colchester White'—1

C. Diascia 'Sun Chimes Coral'—4

D. Alternanthera 'Red Thread'—2

E. Caricature plant Graptophyllum pictum—1

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Simply Elegant Planter

dusty miller silver sage and ivy in pot

Create simplicity and elegance with single-color plantings. Here, shades of silver mix and look particularly wonderful under the moonlight. This planting grows best in full sun.

A. Silver sage Salvia argentea—1

B. Dusty miller Centaurea 'Colchester White'—1

C. Cat's whiskers Orthosiphon stamineus—1

D. Bacopa Sutera 'Snowfalls'—1

E. Nemesia 'Vanilla Sachet'—1

F. English ivy Hedera helix 'Ivalace'—2

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