How To Grow A Healthy, Vibrant Container Garden

Dahlia container

Dahlias in bloom.

Perennial container

Flowering Spurge, Sedum, compact Bee Balm & Coreopsis.

 

By Amanda

Whether you’re gardening on a patio in the middle of a city, or have acres of land in the country, containers are a gardener's best friend. They add flair to patios, windowsills, front stoops, and porches. You can add pops of color by hanging containers hung from fence posts, or create a feature wall with hanging baskets. Container gardening also gives an outlet to add MORE, even when the flower beds may not have any space.

I am a city gardener, so I have utilized containers on my property for years. Sometimes I go all out, planting a variety of Dahlias, Caladium and Gladiolus, as well as trolling the aisles of the garden center for discounted annuals that I know just need a little TLC. Other years I keep it simple, sprinkling low-growing wildflower seeds in empty pots and popping a few Caladium bulbs in a planter.

A must-have for my container garden, year after year, are Caladium bulbs. They are just too easy to grow, it’s almost a crime not to. I drop them into a pot (usually in threes), water them to remove any air pockets and leave it for weeks. The spectacular, unique color that Caladiums bring to my garden is a constant conversation-starter with my friends and I’ve turned them all onto these shade-loving beauties. 

Caladium bulbsCaladium bulbs, planted in three.

Caladiums growing happily in a sap bucket.

 

Dahlias and Gladiolus can also be planted in pots – just make sure you use pots that are deep enough. I have used antique sap buckets for planting, and in these photos, you will notice the gorgeous blooms of the Dahlias and Caladium, but no Gladiolus. That’s because my sap buckets just weren’t large enough and my Gladiolus never bloomed. Now, I know for next year to try a deeper pot.

Shade-loving Begonias are also a favorite for container gardening, especially when planted in hanging pots. Once blooming, they instantly give off a romantic, cottage garden look. These long-lasting blooms are perfect for adding color and fragrance to shaded areas, like porches or patios. 

Canna Lilies and Calla Lilies lend themselves to container gardening, and are perfect for creating an elegant tropical oasis on a balcony, stoop, or patio. Also, if you love cut Calla Lilies (and who doesn’t) you could create a cut flower container garden!

We have a variety of summer-blooming bulbs, including Nerine Lilies, RanunculusRain Lilies and more that thrive in containers. Many of these varieties are also low growing, meaning they can be planted in smaller pots and window boxes, creating a conversation-starter at the entrance of your home.

And, of course, you can always plant smaller perennials in containers. Varieties like Lavender, Coral Bells, Sedum and more thrive in larger containers with well-draining soil. 

5 Tips For Growing A Healthy, Vibrant Container Garden

  1. Consider your planter design: we always recommend planting in 3's, as this provides balance. Texture, color, foliage, and plant height are all important! How you design is up to you - combine similar colors in greens and whites for a simple look, or high contrast colors such as red, bronze, and orange for a bold look.
  2. Be sure to choose a container that's an appropriate size for your plant, or vice versa: plants that are appopriately sized for the container. Choosing container-happy perennials and bulbs is an important first step - these varieties are generally more compact or have smaller root systems.
  3. Make sure the plants you combine have similar needs for light, water, and soil conditions. For example, Lavender that prefers well-draining poor soil will not work well with a plant that needs lots of water and rich soil.
  4. Use the right soil for your plants. Generally, a potting soil mix designed for your plants will be most appropriate for the right balance of soil nutrients and drainage. When reusing containers year after year, it's important to restore the nutrients in your soil. Learn More: How To Recharge Soil in Containers to Keep This Year's Plantings Healthy
  5. Container gardens generally dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. Sometimes, this can be advantageous - for example, if you want to grow plants that need well-drained soil or shade, but your garden has rich soil or full sun, you can use containers to create the proper conditions for your plants. However, do make sure to check the moisture levels often.

 

Shop Container-Happy Spring Bulbs

  1. Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ear, Colocasia esculenta Hawaiian Punch

    ‘Hawaiian Punch’ Elephant Ears is a gorgeous cultivar with deep burgundy stems and veining, with light green, arrow-shaped leaves. If you’re thinking of dabbling in the delight...

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    Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ear Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ear PP#24596 Colocasia esculenta Hawaiian Punch PP#24596
    $34.98 Sale $17.49
    Per Bag of 1
    ‘Hawaiian Punch’ Elephant Ears is a gorgeous cultivar with deep burgundy stems and veining, with light green, arrow-shaped leaves. If you’re thinking of dabbling in the delights of tropical foliage, but want something a relatively compact, ‘Hawaiian Punch’ Elephant Ears is a terrific choice for your containers or garden beds. This deer-resistant plant will give your garden months of foliage color in full sun or part-shade. (Colocasia esculenta)
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  2. Elephant Ear Mojito, Colocasia esculenta, Elephant Ear

    Splashed with chartreuse and rich violet tones, ‘Mojito’ Elephant Ears has large colorful foliage, amazing vigor, and a heat-loving attitude. Stems reveal a beautiful mottling th...

    Learn More
    Mojito Elephant Ear Mojito Elephant Ear PP#21995 Colocasia esculenta Mojito PP#21995
    $32.98 Sale $16.49
    Per Bag of 1
    Splashed with chartreuse and rich violet tones, ‘Mojito’ Elephant Ears has large colorful foliage, amazing vigor, and a heat-loving attitude. Stems reveal a beautiful mottling that makes this plant a great choice to stand along to to enrich a colorful planting design. Energize your summer garden with deer-resistant arrow-shaped leaves in large containers, garden beds, or nestled against the margins of water features. Bring happy hour to your summer garden, patio or balcony with a few easy-to-grow ‘Mojito!’(Colocasia esculenta)
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  3. Four O'Clocks, Mirabilis jalapa, Four O'Clocks

    Four O'Clocks, sometimes called 'Marvel of Peru', are low-growing, bushy plants with flowers that bloom in several colors on the same plant - often on the same trailing stem. Four O'...

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    Four O'Clock Mix Four O'Clock Mix Mirabilis jalapa Mix
    $11.98 Sale $7.79
    Per Bag of 5
    Four O'Clocks, sometimes called 'Marvel of Peru', are low-growing, bushy plants with flowers that bloom in several colors on the same plant - often on the same trailing stem. Four O'Clocks tolerate average-to-poor soils beautifully, making them a favorite for sun and part-sun sites that haven't gotten much attention in the past. Blooms open every afternoon (around 4 o'clock) and have closed by the next morning. (Mirabilis jalapa)
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  4. White Splendour Anemone Flowers

    'White Spendour' Anemone carpets woodland areas, rock gardens, and flower beds with a sea of adorable white, daisy-like blooms. The flowers, coupled with the finely textured foliage ...

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    White Splendour Anemone White Splendour Grecian Windflower Anemone blanda White Splendour
    $22.98 Sale $11.48
    Per Bag of 25
    'White Spendour' Anemone carpets woodland areas, rock gardens, and flower beds with a sea of adorable white, daisy-like blooms. The flowers, coupled with the finely textured foliage of this spring-blooming tuber, make a beautiful "skirt" for colorful tulips, daffodils, and even flowering shrubs. Plants are deer, rabbit, and rodent resistant. (Anemone blanda)
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Shop Perennials For Containers

  1. Gaillardia Goblin, Blanket Flower

    'Goblin' Gaillardia has daisy-like blooms with scarlet petals and fringed yellow tips. Very resistant to heat, humidity, and drought, 'Goblin' blooms all summer delivering continuous...

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    Goblin Gaillardia Goblin Blanket Flower Gaillardia Goblin
    $9.98 Sale $4.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goblin' Gaillardia has daisy-like blooms with scarlet petals and fringed yellow tips. Very resistant to heat, humidity, and drought, 'Goblin' blooms all summer delivering continuous, vibrant color. Highly attractive to pollinators. (Gaillardia)
    Learn More
  2. Dwarf English Lavender Thumbelina Leigh, Lavandula angustifolia

    ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ is a compact English lavender that is highly aromatic and perfect for smaller spaces such as containers, rock gardens or the edge of narrow pathways. Drought a...

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    Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Thumbelina Leigh
    $11.98 Sale $5.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ is a compact English lavender that is highly aromatic and perfect for smaller spaces such as containers, rock gardens or the edge of narrow pathways. Drought and deer resistant, the plump lavender blooms will appear twice during the growing season if kept trimmed. Sunny, poor soils. (Lavandula angustifolia)
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  3. Campanula Rapido White, Rapido White Bellflower

    Bellflower Rapido White has a profusion of white, open-bell shaped flowers that cover this compact plant from late spring all through summer. This bellfower is an improvement from t...

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    Rapido White Bellflower Rapido White Bellflower Campanula carpatica Rapido White
    $9.98 Sale $4.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Bellflower Rapido White has a profusion of white, open-bell shaped flowers that cover this compact plant from late spring all through summer. This bellfower is an improvement from the older "Clips" series, with flowers appearing up to four weeks earlier. Border your paths and walkways for a charming cottage look. Rapido White is perfect for small garden spaces or containers to spruce up your patio. (Campanula carpatica)
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