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. Cascading Begonia Mix

    The Cascading Begonia Mix produces blooms of peach, pink, yellow, red and white that tumble down the sides of patio pots and hanging baskets, creating an upbeat display of season-lon...

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    Cascading Begonia Mix Cascading Begonia Mix Begonia Cascade Odorosa Mix
    As low as $19.98 Sale $9.99
    Per Bag of 3
    The Cascading Begonia Mix produces blooms of peach, pink, yellow, red and white that tumble down the sides of patio pots and hanging baskets, creating an upbeat display of season-long color. Perfect for shadier spots that need a lively burst of cheer and charm, begonias scalloped petals play perfectly off their lush and lasting foliage. Extremely easy to care for. (Begonia)
    Learn More
  2. Coral Dwarf Matrix Asiatic Lily Bulbs, Dwarf Asiatic Lily

    'Matrix' Asiatic Lily is a vibrant dwarf variety that grows to 16-20” and is a perfect addition to small spaces, containers, and the front border of beds. Stunning magenta-coral bl...

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    Matrix® Asiatic Lily Bulbs Matrix® Dwarf Asiatic Lily Lilium asiaticum Matrix®
    $12.98 Sale $9.99
    Per Bag of 3
    'Matrix' Asiatic Lily is a vibrant dwarf variety that grows to 16-20” and is a perfect addition to small spaces, containers, and the front border of beds. Stunning magenta-coral blooms open to reveal orange centers, bringing oodles of color and personality to the garden. Blooming in early summer, 'Matrix' is extremely easy to grow and makes an excellent cutting flower. (Lilium)
    Learn More
  3. Elephant Ear Thailand Giant, Colocasia gigantea

    'Thailand Giant' is the largest variety of Elephant Ear, creating a giant, light-green canopy of gently-ribbed leaves in the summer garden. Just spectacular! Your visitors won't be a...

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    Thailand Giant Elephant Ear Thailand Giant Elephant Ear Colocasia gigantea Thailand Giant
    $25.98 Sale $19.99
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Thailand Giant' is the largest variety of Elephant Ear, creating a giant, light-green canopy of gently-ribbed leaves in the summer garden. Just spectacular! Your visitors won't be able to stop measuring themselves against the enormous leaves. (Colocasia gigantea)
    Learn More
  4. Peacock Orchid, Gladiolus acidanthera, Gladiolus callianthus flowers

    Peacock Orchid delivers graceful, white orchid-like flowers with star-shaped, merlot-colored centers. Extremely easy to grow, these beautiful blooms produce a sweet scent, adding a d...

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    Peacock Orchid (Gladiolus acidanthera) Peacock Orchid or Gladiolus acidanthera Gladiolus acidanthera, Gladiolus callianthus
    As low as $18.98 Sale $9.49
    Per Bag of 25
    Peacock Orchid delivers graceful, white orchid-like flowers with star-shaped, merlot-colored centers. Extremely easy to grow, these beautiful blooms produce a sweet scent, adding a delicate allure to both gardens and bouquets. Hardy in Zones 7-10, Peacock Orchids are considered annuals in all other zones, but can be lifted and stored for the following year. (Gladiolus acidanthera)
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Shop Perennials For Containers

  1. Silky Deep Red Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, with butterfly, Photo Credit - Quartl

    'Silky Deep Red' Tropical Milkweed produces eye-catching, red-orange flowers with yellow centers. A valuable source of nutrition for Monarch butterflies, this lush beauty carries an ...

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    Silky Deep Red Tropical Milkweed Silky Deep Red Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower Asclepias curassavica Silky Deep Red
    As low as $16.98 Sale $9.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Silky Deep Red' Tropical Milkweed produces eye-catching, red-orange flowers with yellow centers. A valuable source of nutrition for Monarch butterflies, this lush beauty carries an air of exotic mystery when planted as an annual in cooler zones. Young foliage has reddish tones adding to the variety’s distinctive beauty. Flowers from late spring to late fall. (Asclepias curassavica)
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  2. Daybreak Coreopsis Li′l Bang™ Series, Coreopsis verticillata Daybreak Li'l Bang™ Series

    Though small in stature, Li'l Bang™ 'Daybreak' Coreopsis packs a powerful punch with a profusion of fiery yellow and red blooms. This low-maintenance, adaptable, drought-toleran...

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    Li'l Bang™ Daybreak Coreopsis Li'l Bang™ Daybreak Coreopsis PP#26138 Coreopsis Li'l Bang™ Daybreak PP#26138
    $15.98 Sale $9.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Though small in stature, Li'l Bang™ 'Daybreak' Coreopsis packs a powerful punch with a profusion of fiery yellow and red blooms. This low-maintenance, adaptable, drought-tolerant perennial features all the qualities you expect from Coreopsis in a versatile compact form. Liven up a border, edge a walkway, and make containers pop with this reliable pollinator-friendly perennial.
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  3. Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm, Rudbeckia in bloom in perennial garden

    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green f...

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    Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
    As low as $9.98 Sale $6.49
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green foliage. Unbothered by most pests, poor soils, drought and humidity, 'Goldsturm' is easygoing and the perfect addition to flower arrangements and pollinator gardens. Deer resistant and long-lasting. (Rudbeckia fulgida)
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