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. Borneo Giant Elephant Ear, Alocasia macrorrhiza Borneo Giant with giant green foliage

    Borneo Giant Elephant Ear is a monumental cultivar that can reach up to 8 feet tall in its first year and matures to up to 12 feet tall. Stunning 3-to-4-foot large heart-shaped leave...

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    Borneo Giant Elephant Ear Borneo Giant Elephant Ear Alocasia macrorrhiza Borneo Giant
    As low as $19.99 Sale $14.99
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    Borneo Giant Elephant Ear is a monumental cultivar that can reach up to 8 feet tall in its first year and matures to up to 12 feet tall. Stunning 3-to-4-foot large heart-shaped leaves stand upright on thick, sturdy stems. With its architectural presence, Borneo Giant can be used to create a focal point in the garden, or create the feeling of a secluded outdoor room for a lush, relaxing retreat. (Alocasia macrorrhiza).
  2. Best Gold Calla Lily, Zantedeschia Best Gold booming in the garden

    'Best Gold' Calla Lily brings rich, yellow blooms and plenty of elegance to the summer garden. Flowering from the middle of the season into fall, find a spot in the perennial bed to ...

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    Best Gold Calla Lily Best Gold Calla Lily Zantedeschia Best Gold
    As low as $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 1
    'Best Gold' Calla Lily brings rich, yellow blooms and plenty of elegance to the summer garden. Flowering from the middle of the season into fall, find a spot in the perennial bed to let 'Best Gold' fill in any gaps that could use a punch of cheerful yellow. Deer resistant and a bouquet favorite. (Zantedeschia)
  3. Cupcake Dinner Plate Dahlia Collection

    The Cupcake Dinner Plate Dahlia Collection is an exquisite selection of tall, decadently large dinner plate dahlias. Indulge in the massive, fluffy flowers up to one foot wide that b...

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    Cupcake Dinner Plate Dahlia Collection Cupcake Dinner Plate Dahlia Collection Dahlia
    $69.98 Sale $52.49
    Per Collection of 12
    The Cupcake Dinner Plate Dahlia Collection is an exquisite selection of tall, decadently large dinner plate dahlias. Indulge in the massive, fluffy flowers up to one foot wide that bloom in soft spun-sugar and buttercream colors. The soothing pastel palette will give your garden and cut flower arrangements an irresistible sweetness, blooming from summer to frost. Collection of 12 tubers.
  4. Harmonic Dahlia Collection

    Our Harmonic Dahlia Collection is a masterpiece of color and form. Featuring some of our most popular Dinner Plate, Ball, and Water Lily dahlias, the collection allows gardeners to g...

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    Harmonic Dahlia Collection Harmonic Dahlia Collection Dahlia
    $111.98 Sale $83.99
    Per Collection of 18
    Our Harmonic Dahlia Collection is a masterpiece of color and form. Featuring some of our most popular Dinner Plate, Ball, and Water Lily dahlias, the collection allows gardeners to grow several classic dahlia flower forms in a color palette that soothes the soul. With a nod to summer sunrises and dreamy sunsets, these six Dahlia varieties will create a stunning display in the garden, as well as in cut flower arrangements. Collection of 18 tubers.

Shop Perennials For Containers

  1. Berry Chiffon Tickseed, Coreopsis verticillata Berry Chiffon

    Coreopsis Berry Chiffon has delightful petals with raspberry hued centers and white edges. Developed to be disease resistant, deer resistant, and drought tolerant ensures your enjoy...

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    Berry Chiffon Coreopsis Berry Chiffon Tickseed PP#27414 Coreopsis verticillata Berry Chiffon PP#27414
    $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Coreopsis Berry Chiffon has delightful petals with raspberry hued centers and white edges. Developed to be disease resistant, deer resistant, and drought tolerant ensures your enjoyment of this prolific bloomer. No deadheading needed to help Berry Chiffon produce flowers from early summer to early fall. (Coreopsis)
  2. Blue Spruce Sedum, Sedum reflexum Blue Spruce

    This Sedum gets its name from small, blue leaves that resemble the needles of a blue Spruce. Cheerful yellow flowers emerge in the early summer. (Sedum reflexum)...

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    Blue Spruce Sedum Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum reflexum Blue Spruce
    As low as $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    This Sedum gets its name from small, blue leaves that resemble the needles of a blue Spruce. Cheerful yellow flowers emerge in the early summer. (Sedum reflexum)
  3. Reblooming Daylily Stella D'Oro, Hemerocallis

    Early to bloom and easy to care for, 'Stella D'Oro' Reblooming Daylily is a compact plant and a great choice for edging the front of the garden. Rich, golden yellow blooms come in st...

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    Stella D'Oro Reblooming Daylily Reblooming Daylily Stella D'Oro Hemerocallis Stella D'Oro
    As low as $12.65 Sale $10.75
    Per Bag of 3
    Early to bloom and easy to care for, 'Stella D'Oro' Reblooming Daylily is a compact plant and a great choice for edging the front of the garden. Rich, golden yellow blooms come in strong in early to mid summer, and a reblooming habit brings them on again later in the season. Fragrant. (Hemerocallis)
  4. Lush Hosta Collection

    The Lush Hosta Collection is your answer for bold color in shady nooks – with an explosion of blue, green, and variegated foliage and gorgeous summer blooms. A perfect mixture of p...

    Learn More
    Lush Hosta Collection Lush Hosta Collection
    $60.65 Sale $56.99
    Per Collection of 10
    The Lush Hosta Collection is your answer for bold color in shady nooks – with an explosion of blue, green, and variegated foliage and gorgeous summer blooms. A perfect mixture of plant sizes, foliage textures, and shapes, this collection provides instant impact with very little maintenance. Fragrant bell-shaped purple and white blooms attract hummingbirds from mid- to late summer.
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