Container gardens are a fantastic way to grow plants. A collection of pots can lift a patio or front garden and brighten up walls and fences. Container gardening is ideal for people who have small spaces or city gardens, or even no garden at all! And it’s also perfect if your home is rented and you can’t dig over the garden.
With so many possibilities, it is a shame that container gardening is most often used to grow simple bedding plants. There are loads of ways to create a striking display with pots and planters. Here are five of my favourite.
Nothing says spring like bulbs. This is an incredible display of brightly coloured flowers that heralds the start of the growing season. There is a clever contrast between heights and colours, and the similar terracotta pots help to bring everything together.
Bulbs are great for containers and can be densely planted to give a fuller effect. Recreate this at home by planting taller varieties like tulips underneath shorter bulbs that flower earlier, like daffodils and muscari.
These are like container garden cauldrons – they have a bit of everything in! This is a shortcut to a striking display and provides so much interest. There is a mix of flowers, foliage, colour, size, shape and form. It could be chaotic but it really works.
The trick is to build everything around a tall central plant – a hardy geranium in this case. Plant smaller flowering varieties at three or four points around it, and fill in the gaps with leafy plants. Finally, allow trailing varieties to hang down around the edges.
Even though the two bowl containers are different sizes, the plants are repeated in both. There is a splash of orange and dark purple foliage to create cohesion. It’s a clever container garden for a long-lasting display.
Break away from petunias with leafy green foliage. This is a cleverly co-ordinated display of hosta plants in terracotta pots that vary in size and shade. The wooden planters are also repeated throughout the design.
Aim for a variation in leaf colour, size and pattern to give a textural interest. I especially like the bluey tones that echo the blue-painted wooden trellis. Add variation to this with other leafy plants like herbs and salad leaves.
Succulents are fleshy plants that suit containers because they don’t mind poor soil or low moisture levels. They also make a great display with their futuristic shapes and pointy leaves. Create texture by planting varieties with different forms, patterns and colours.
Plant smaller succulents around the outside and cover the soil surface with a layer of gravel to improve water drainage. Succulents are also ideal for shallow containers.
Cool blue (and purple) container gardens
Don’t forget about the pots! Interesting plant pots can turn a container garden into a striking feature. This container garden is so well-designed. It has a mixture of shapes, sizes, colours and finishes. The main colour scheme is blue, with white, sandstone and purple added in.
To recreate this look, choose a few anchor pots in a similar size, colour and finish like the three glazed ones. Then paint other pots and planters in neighbouring tones on the colour wheel. Keep the plants within the colour scheme too.
For more garden planting ideas, check out my blog:
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.