Whether your favorite style of gardening is a modern, contemporary, cottage, or your own particular blend of styles; container gardens can bring color and interest to any garden. Containers can be round, square, short, tall, and come in many colors and designs. The varieties of plants that do well in containers vary from 10′ high banana trees to tiny succulents that invite a closer look.
Container gardens have the advantage of being able to grow beautiful plants in places where we normally couldn’t plant anything. For example, a row of planters filled with Lily of the Nile or other beautiful blooms can be placed on a concrete or stone patio surrounding a swimming pool. Pots of daffodils and tulips can be placed surrounding a tree where the roots prevent planting. Once the spring flowers die, simply relocate the pots to an out-of-the-way spot and replace them with pots overflowing with impatiens or other shade loving flowers.
Containers include hanging baskets draping with trailing ivy and petunias, and pots overflowing with vines and flowers sitting on each step to the porch or deck. You can use containers to grow tender tropical plants, such as hibiscus, mandevilla, or even a banana tree. Before the first frost, bring the containers inside for the cold months. In the spring, gradually expose them to the outdoors again. In addition, if your containers are ceramic, clay, or cement, they may have to be taken indoors so that they won’t crack during the cold weather.
This video below is a bit “advertorial”, but I just love watching Peg Bier talk about gardening. What a character! She suggests 3 types of plants for a container garden for visual enjoyment:
- A thriller – a plant that has a lot of colors or unusual foliage.
- A spiller – something with a vining habit that will appear to spill over the side.
- A filler – a plant that may be unassuming, but fills in the rest of the space for background interest.
01. Succulent Container Gardens
If you have a bright, sunny patio or balcony where nothing seems to be able to take the heat, try a succulent container garden. These gardens can be as large or small as you like, and you don’t have to plant spiky cactus. Although all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. Hens and chicks, burros tail, and jade plants are all succulents, without the harsh sting of spines. Furthermore, you can get blooms in either red or yellow from sedum, and a variety of pink, white, yellow, orange or other colors from kalanchoe.
Container garden ideas don’t start and stop with which plants to use. With succulents, add small river rocks, or even shards of pottery pushed into the soil vertically to form an interesting miniature vignette. Pebbles can be used to mimic a dry streambed. Several small rocks can be leaned against each other to form a tiny escarpment. Just be careful that its size doesn’t overwhelm the plants.
02. Herb Container Garden
Many herbs are perfectly happy in a container garden. These include, but are not limited to: rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, and other herbs. Containers are especially useful for growing mint, since if you plant mint directly into the ground, it can become invasive. Herb gardens can be as small as a few containers on a windowsill, or a window box hung outside. They can also be as large as your container garden ideas will allow. Herbs can be planted separately, or clumped together. You can use a whiskey barrel, horse trough, an old bathtub, or a wheelbarrow with holes drilled in the bottom.
Whatever herbs you plant, try to plant those with similar requirements together. For example, rosemary needs more sun and far less water than parsley or basil. Keep these requirements in mind when you decide to mix and match your herbs, and they should grow well.
03. Container Vegetable Gardens
You don’t need a half acre of fertile ground to grow your own fresh vegetables. Container garden ideas include using vegetables both as decoration and as a supplement to your diet. Radishes, lettuce, kale, collard greens, peppers, cucumbers, and other shallow rooted vegetables will do fine in most containers. With larger containers, you can even grow tomatoes as long as you stake them for support. Remember however, different vegetables will have different water and fertilization requirements. For example, tomatoes and cucumbers generally need more water than radishes.
Whether you decide to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, or all three, there are plenty of container garden ideas to suit your needs and tastes.