Container gardens soften hardscapes and add living beauty you can easily change up through the seasons as the plants grow and fade. Plus they allow you to mix plants that wouldn't normally mingle together in a single pot or garden bed. Maximize all the gorgeous potential by artfully arranging several containers together, especially in spaces where you don't have soil or get much rain, such as on your porch or patio. To make your cluster of containers look like an expert landscaping project that lasts all year long, make sure to follow a planting theme, such as a mix of colorful annuals and perennials, a monochromatic look created with flowers and foliage, or even a lush arrangement of tropical houseplants.
Mix-and-Match Your Favorite Garden Plants
As long as you choose plants with similar care needs, it's easy to create a container garden with all of your favorite annuals and perennials. For the most impact, use a variety of textures and sizes when you're planting. Even if you choose plants that look completely different, you can tie the entire grouping together with neutral containers and repeating some plants in several of the pots. Vary the sizes and heights of each planter, with taller ones in the back so each plant can be seen from various angles. It also helps to choose a few large statement planters that can help anchor the entire grouping.
Like any garden, you'll need a few plants to serve as focal points. In this grouping, creamy white foxglove flowers, purple salvia, and a tall bird of paradise all draw in the eye. Then, you can fill in the spaces in the middle with bright foliage plants like heuchera to make your grouping look lush and full.
Create a Monochromatic Grouping
One easy way to create a cohesive container garden is to choose plants with a similar color palette. For this grouping, shades of red and dark pink are used to add brightness and color to a plain patio. Tall, dark pink cordyline makes a nice focal point in the back, while burgundy heuchera and red caladium fill in the front. Smaller corydlines echo the color and shape of their larger cousin. The 'Aloha Kona Hot Orange' calibrachoa flowers pick up the reds and yellows in the foliage around them.
If you don't have planters that are different heights, you can still elevate some of your pots in the back by stacking them on a cinderblock, an upside-down pot, or even on steps if you're arranging the containers on your porch. This also gives you more options for rearranging the containers, because you can swap out which pot is elevated above the rest. Using neutral planter colors and styles keeps the focus on your brightly colored plants. Try to use an odd number of containers; this will make the group more pleasing to the eye.
Try a Tropical Houseplant Container Collection
Even if you don't live in an area where it's possible to grow tropical plants outside year-round, you can create a temporary tropical container garden for the summer with a few favorite houseplants. When the weather turns too chilly to keep them outside, you can bring them for the fall and winter (use lightweight planters to make them easier to move). Start with the largest plants first, such as a towering fiddle-leaf fig and glossy rubber tree. Then, fill in with medium-sized plants, such as sago palm, snake plant, and taller cacti. Finally, complete the grouping with a few shorter plants in the front. Succulents and cacti are perfect for this position because they'll stay small, but they can add interesting texture and colors to the group.
For the best arrangement, try to vary the size, texture, and heights of the plants you use. If you're using plants with mostly green foliage, try using a few different colors of containers to add a little more brightness to the group. If you use a similar style of planter, even if the colors are different, they'll all blend together well.
How to Keep Your Containers Looking Fresh
Make sure you choose plants that have similar needs. For example, if you're trying to fill in a sunny spot on your patio, don't toss in one plant that likes shade alongside several sun-loving containers. It also helps to choose plants that have similar watering needs so you can water all of them at once.
Shortly after planting, cluster containers closely to create a sense of fullness. As plants mature and fill in, spread pots apart. Keep your container garden looking its best by moving plants in peak bloom to the forefront of the garden or elevating them above their neighbors. Likewise, slip plants past their prime to less prominent positions. Every four weeks or so, add a balanced fertilizer to your pots to help give plants the nutrients need for healthy growth.