Recipes for Beautiful Container Gardens

yellow container with perilla, petunia, lemon symphony
Photo: Peter Krumhardt

It's easy to make your planters beautiful because here are the best plant combination ideas for container gardens. All you need to do is fill a container with potting soil, gather the recommended plants and get planting! Create these lush, beautiful container gardens in minutes to accent your landscape all season long. They're the perfect solution for gardeners who have limited space and they're even portable!

01 of 30

Mix It Up

mixed container with mum, ivy, sedum
D. Randolph Foulds

A change from the usual russets and yellows of fall container gardens, this design features pink flowers and stands out for its originality and style.

A. Mum (Chrysanthemum 'Pobo Lavender'): 1

B. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier'): 1

C. Sedum sieboldii: 1

D. Flowering cabbage (Brassica oleracea 'Ruby'): 1

E. Aster novae-belgii 'Crimson Brocade': 1

F. Wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis): 1

02 of 30

Use Great Foliage

dramatic foliage container with petunia, sweet potato vine
Michael Garland

This combination is elevated to high drama with the inclusion of acalypha, an underutilized foliage plant. Look for additional plants such as coleus or elephant's ear to make your plantings spectacular in this bold and dramatic container garden.

A. Petunia 'Ultra Pastel Pink': 5

B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatus 'Blackie'): 2

C. Acalypha wilkesiana: 1

03 of 30

Video: Container Garden Design Tips

Watch this quick video to get more ideas on how to put together beautiful container gardens.

04 of 30

Go Classic with Black

classic black container with oxalis, calla
Marty Baldwin

This dramatic combination features contrasting foliage texture and color. The deep purple foliage and pink-blushed white flowers of the oxalis perfectly complements the black glazed container. Add holiday cheer to this classic container with candy cane oxalis, just one of the many types of oxalis that is available.

A. Oxalis regnellii: 7

B. Calla (Zantedeschia 'Black Forest'): 1

C. Elephant's ears (Colocasia 'Illustris'): 1

05 of 30

Create a Summertime Gem

tall container with angelonia, zinnina, coleus
Adam Albright

Cheerful and bright, this design will hold its good looks for months thanks to tough plants like Profusion zinnias and white angelonia.

A. Angelonia 'Angelface White': 1

B. Zinnia 'Profusion Orange': 1

C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Wild Lime'): 1

06 of 30

Use a Color Scheme

green container with angelonia, celosia, calibrchoa
Adam Albright

Having trouble choosing colors for a container garden? Pick just one or two. Here, stunning blue flowers and purple blooms are accentuated by the deep turquoise container to create a beautiful statement all season long.

A. Angelonia 'Angelface Dresden Blue': 2

B. Celosia 'Purple Flamingo': 1

C. Calibrachoa 'Superbells Blue': 3

07 of 30

Employ Grasses

metal container with grasses
Adam Albright

This country-style design shows off several different calibrachoas (also called Million Bells) complemented by the osteospermum and phlox. While charming on their own, the addition of ornamental grass creates height, drama, and textural beauty.

A. Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Terra Cotta': 3

B. Calibrachoa 'Superbells Trailing Blue': 3

C. Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Terra Linda': 3

D. Osteospermum 'Lemon Symphony': 3

E. Purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum 'Rubrum'): 1

F. Phlox drummondii 'Intensia White': 3

08 of 30

Employ Foliage for Season-Long Power

foliage container with canna, fuchsia, sweet potato vine
Peter Krumhardt

Even without flowers this arrangement is beautiful thanks to a mix of foliage colors and textures. The textured leaves of this dramatic foliage container garden adds contrast and interest. The canna's can't miss form is a focal point of this container.

A. Canna 'Australia': 1

B. Fuchsia triphylla 'Firecracker': 1

C. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'): 1

D. Gerbera 'Festival Salmon': 2

09 of 30

Create Elegance

elegant container with tree rose, begonia, vinca
Peter Krumhardt

The soft pink color scheme and petal-filled flowers of a tree rose combine beautifully in a classic, elegant planting that will bloom all summer long.

A. Tree rose (Rosa 'Baby Blanket'): 1

B. Begonia 'Prelude Pink': 5

C. Vinca (Catharanthus 'Coconut Cooler'): 3

10 of 30

Keep It Balanced

low container on pedestal with fountaingrass
Ed Gohlich

Purple fountain grass creates balance to the waves of blue nemesia in this gorgeous miniature garden. The plants were proportionally chosen for this lower-than-usual container.

A. Nemesia 'Blue Bird': 3

B. Nemesia 'Compact Innocence': 1

C. Ivy-leaf geranium (Pelargonium 'Picasso'): 2

D. Purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum 'Rubrum'): 1

E. Zinnia 'Profusion White': 3

11 of 30

Make a Cool-Season Stunner

blue container with pansy, licorice plant
Jeff McNamara

The pansies will give a boost of color from early spring to the start of summer in this cool season container. When it starts to get hot, change out the pansies for heat-tolerant annuals such as angelonia.

A. Pansy (Viola 'Violet Beacon'): 5

B. Licorice plant (Helichrysum 'Limelight'): 3

12 of 30

Keep It Simple

terracotta container with angelonia
Scott Little

You can have a beautiful container garden with one kind of plant. As this pot of angelonia shows, grouping one variety in a container underscores a plant's unique features. Here, angelonia makes a great color contrast with the annual phlox in the foreground.

A. Angelonia 'Angelface Blue': 3

13 of 30

Contrast with Several Varieties of a Plant

various houseplant wooden planter box letters
Jacob Fox

These six varieties of peperomia boasts an astounding array of leaf colors, shapes and textures. With growth habits that range from upright to trailing, this container is sure to please anyone who loves low maintenance houseplants.

A. Red-edge peperomia (Peperomia clusiifolia variegata): 1

B. Baby rubber plant (Peperomia caperata ‘Red Ripple’): 1

C. Baby rubber plant (Peperomia clusiifolia ‘Tricolor’): 1

D. Parallel peperomia (Pepperomia puteolata): 1

E. False philodendron (Peperomia scandens): 1

F. Baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Golden Gate’): 1

14 of 30

Add Beauty to an Evergreen

evergreen container with boxwood, verbena, coleus
Kritsada Panichgul

Adding colorful annuals is a fun way to dress up a plain evergreen for a dose of summer-long color.

A. Boxwood (Buxus 'Green Gem'): 1

B. Verbena 'Superbena Purple': 3

C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Mississippi Summer'): 3

D. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier'): 3

15 of 30

Create a Classic

terracotta container with geranium, petunia
Mike Jensen

Charming and old-fashioned in an elegant way, this gorgeous spring container garden in its decorative terra-cotta container and will last till early fall.

A. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Maverick Star Pink'): 1

B. Nemesia 'Blue Bird': 2

C. Nemesia 'Compact Innocence': 1

D. Petunia 'Supertunia Giant Pink': 3

E. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Anne Marie'): 4

16 of 30

Add a Festive Feel

festive blue container with geranium, blue daze
Adam Albright

This perfect little red and blue combination is ideal for gracing the deck or patio for an Independence Day celebration. Explore other perfect container pairings for geraniums.

A. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Red Elite'): 1

B. Evolvulus glomeratus 'Blue Daze': 5

17 of 30

Pay Attention to Texture

container with coleus, calibrachoa, fountain grass
Adam Albright

Achieve texture in your container garden with leafy and flowering perennials, annuals, and grasses. Here, an ornamental grass plays beautifully against a chunky coleus and cascading calibrachoa.

A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Black Star'): 1

B. Calibrachoa Superbells 'Cherry Red': 3

C. Purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum 'Rubrum'): 1

18 of 30

Try Different Textures

green container with celosia, cigar plant, dahlia
Adam Albright

Informal but colorful, this display would look great in a country- or cottage-style garden thanks to its soft colors and intriguing mix of textures. Choose heat-tolerant annuals that bloom all summer long such as cockscomb (celosia) that adds colorful texture without a lot of maintenance.

A. Celosia 'Purple Flamingo': 1

B. Cigar plant (Cuphea ignea 'Dynamite'): 1

C. Calibrachoa 'Superbells Trailing Light Blue': 3

D. Beefsteak plant (Iresine 'California'): 1

E. Dahlia 'Gallery Salvador': 1

19 of 30

Add Layers of Interest

terracotta container with maiden grass, sweet potato vine
Mike Jensen

This container makes an impressive impact with its blast of color. A stately ornamental grass rises above mounding plants that contrast the trailing creeping Jenny and sweet potato vine. By midsummer, the pot will be completely covered with a lovely golden skirt of leaves.

A. Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'): 1

B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatus 'Margarita'): 2

C. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Vodka'): 2

D. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Olympic Torch'): 1

E. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'): 2

20 of 30

Create Cottage Charm

cottage charm container with verbena, parrots beak
Bill Holt

The loose, billowy feeling of this gorgeous container garden is a perfect cottage garden accent. A cottage garden design allows nature to freely take its course and tends to be lower maintenance than other carefully manicured garden styles.

A. Verbena 'Escapade Bright Eye': 3

B. Plectranthus argentatus: 2

C. Parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii): 3

21 of 30

Draw the Eye Up

colorful container with ageratum, bacopa, pineapple sage
Bill Holt

Overflowing with abundance, this colorful display demands attention. Late-blooming pineapple sage becomes the crowning glory in late summer when it bears its bright red blooms. Be sure to keep your plants well hydrated to ensure they reach their full potential.

A. Ageratum 'Blue Horizon': 3

B. Bacopa (Sutera 'Snowstorm White'): 3

C. Calibrachoa 'Superbells Trailing Rose': 3

D. Swan River daisy (Brachycome 'Mauve Delight'): 3

E. Petunia 'Explorer Rose': 1

F. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans): 2

22 of 30

Maximize Color

container with lantana, petunia, licorice plant
Marty Baldwin

Master the art of using color in your garden by using wonderful color combinations to create a feeling of abundance. Accent it with texture, such as here where gaura provides nice verticality and creates a fun contrast with the spreading petunia.

A. Lantana 'Bandana Cherry Surprise': 1

B. Petunia 'Rose Double Madness': 3

C. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Icicles'): 1

D. Gaura lindheimeri: 1

23 of 30

Tuck It In

bowl container with nemesias, pansy
Ed Gohlich

Container gardens don't need to be big to make a big impact. This very colorful and eye-catching arrangement fits well in just about any spot. Take advantage of using small space garden strategies to get the most out of your yard.

A. Nemesia 'Sunsatia Pear': 1

B. Nemesia 'Sunsatia Raspberry': 1

C. Nemesia 'Sunsatia Lemon': 1

D. Nemesia 'Sunsatia Cranberry': 1

E. Pansy (Viola 'Karma Blue Blotch'): 1

24 of 30

Enjoy Sweet Scents

herb container with geranium, alyssum
David McDonald

A perfect accent for a herb garden or next to your favorite chair on a deck or patio, the scented geranium will delight with its scent and its contrast to fragrant sweet alyssum.

A. Scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens 'Grey Lady Plymouth'):1

B. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia 'Wonderland Purple'): 3

25 of 30

Be Sweet & Romantic

blue container with godetia, verbena, snapdragon
Andreas Trauttmansdorff 

This little planting is filled with many shades of pink flowers. Use pink in the garden, both on its own and with planting partners of other colors. Choose light pink flowers for an airy feel or bright pink flowers that pop against a green background.

A. Godetia (Clarkia 'Grace Salmon Red'): 3

B. Verbena 'Babylon Purple': 3

C. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum 'Solstice Red'): 3

26 of 30

Go Crazy!

container with dusty miller, geraniums, african daisy
Allan Mandell

Container gardens don't have to be restrained. This striking collection displays beautiful foliage textures and colorful leaves against pink and red flowers in a wooden half barrel.

A. Dusty miller (Senecio 'Silver Dust'): 3

B. Ivy-leaf geranium (Pelargonium 'Crocodile'): 3

C. Scented geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum): 3

D. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Variegatum'): 5

E. African daisy (Arctotis 'Cerise'): 3

F. Salvia patens: 2

27 of 30

Create Drama in a Pot

dramatic yellow container with lantana, coleus
Peter Krumhardt

It's easy to plant a container garden when you know a few garden design basics. This simple design demonstrates classic planting proportions with "thriller plant" (cordyline), "filler plant" (lantana), and "spiller plant" (trailing coleus).

A. Lantana 'New Gold': 1

B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Stained Glassworks Trailing Plum'): 2

C. Cordyline australis: 1

28 of 30

Overflow with Color

tall green container with daisy, creeping jenny, verbena
Peter Krumhardt

This container is full of color and texture from its flowers and foliage. A bright gerbera daisy rising out of the top becomes the highlight of this planting. Take your container to the next level and try growing Gerbera daisies indoors and outdoors.

A. Gerbera daisy (Gerbera 'Festival Orange'): 1

B. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'): 3

C. Verbena 'Superbena Burgundy': 3

29 of 30

Make a Lively Trio

tall container with geranium, petunia, sedge
Peter Krumhardt

This container garden has a sense of movement created by the angle of the umbrella sedge that is set off by the trailing petunia and balanced by the stocky geranium. For a lush patio garden, try grouping containers together.

A. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Scarlet Elite'): 1

B. Petunia 'Supertunia Mini White': 2

C. Umbrella sedge (Cyperus alternifolius): 1

30 of 30

Add Mounds of Texture

yellow container with perilla, petunia, lemon symphony
Peter Krumhardt

This fun combo with traditional petunias and osteospermums is elevated by the dramatic perilla that demands attention. Grow annuals like these from seed to save a little money and have more varieties to choose from.

A. Perilla 'Magilla': 1

B. Petunia 'Supertunia Royal Velvet': 2

C. Osteospermum 'Lemon Symphony': 2

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