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. Cafe Au Lait Dinner Plate Dahlia

    ‚Cafe Au Lait‚ Dinner Plate Dahlia produces large, buttermilk-colored blooms up to 10 across that blush with pink and hints of barely-there latte brown. As the season pro...

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    Cafe Au Lait Dinner Plate Dahlia Café Au Lait Dinner Plate Dahlia Dinner Plate Dahlia Café Au Lait
    As low as $21.32 Sale $15.99
    Per Bag of 3
    'Cafe Au Lait' Dinner Plate Dahlia produces large, buttermilk-colored blooms up to 10 across that blush with pink and hints of barely-there latte brown. As the season progresses and the flowers mature, expect more delicious color variations to appear. Excellent as a cut flower, 'Cafe Au Lait' is hugely popular in wedding bouquets and arrangements. Prefers full sun. (Dahlia)
  2. Banana Cream Pie Dahlia Collection

    Treat yourself to our exclusive Banana Cream Pie Dahlia Collection, featuring marvelous blooms in soft and sweet whites and yellows. Layers of sumptuous petals will unfurl in a showc...

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    Banana Cream Pie Dahlia Collection Banana Cream Pie Dahlia Collection Dahlia
    $79.99 Sale $68.99
    Per Collection of 12
    Treat yourself to our exclusive Banana Cream Pie Dahlia Collection, featuring marvelous blooms in soft and sweet whites and yellows. Layers of sumptuous petals will unfurl in a showcase of Anemone, Fimbriata, Cactus, and Dinner Plate flower forms for abundant texture and playfulness. Light and bright, this charming collection will add soft color to the late season perennial border or cutting garden. Bouquets will bring joy to your home or friends. Collection of 12 Dahlias.
  3. Zantedeschia, Havana® Calla Lilies in bloom

    It’s the saturated, silky color that you notice first in Havana® Calla Lily. Sumptuous and seductive, the fluted blooms are deep orange suffused with a golden yellow glow. A m...

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    Havana® Calla Lily Havana® Calla Lily Zantedeschia
    As low as $13.32 Sale $11.32
    Per Bag of 1
    It’s the saturated, silky color that you notice first in Havana® Calla Lily. Sumptuous and seductive, the fluted blooms are deep orange suffused with a golden yellow glow. A must-have for the sunny summer garden, flowers emerge through spotted, glossy foliage. Long-lasting blooms continue for 6-8 weeks, adding romance and luxury to summer plantings. Good for sunny, moist sites, Callas are deer resistant and a great choice for containers and cut flowers. (Zantedeschia)
  4. Tecolote Salmon Persian Buttercup, Ranunculus Tecolote Salmon

    The silken double apricot blooms of ‚Tecolote Salmon‚ Ranunculus add a stylish note of luxury to the garden, emerging from mounds of ferny foliage in late spring atop str...

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    Salmon Tecolote Ranunculus Tecolote Salmon Persian Buttercup Ranunculus Tecolote Salmon
    As low as $15.99 Sale $13.59
    Per Bag of 12
    The silken double apricot blooms of 'Tecolote Salmon' Ranunculus add a stylish note of luxury to the garden, emerging from mounds of ferny foliage in late spring atop strong 24” stems. A florist favorite, these elegant Persian Buttercups are just as versatile in vases as they are in garden beds. Their moderate growth habit and attractive foliage also makes them an excellent option for containers. Order these for spring delivery.

Shop Perennials For Containers

  1. Radiant Glow Coral Bells Collection
Caramel Coral Bells Image Courtesy of Walter's Garden Inc

    Our Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection shines year-round with richly hued foliage, providing attractive evergreen groundcover in shaded gardens and containers. In summer, flower...

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    Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection Radiant Glow Coral Bells Collection Heuchera
    As low as $62.65 Sale $53.99
    Per Collection of 4
    Our Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection shines year-round with richly hued foliage, providing attractive evergreen groundcover in shaded gardens and containers. In summer, flower spikes feature dainty, bell-shaped blooms. Our Low-Grow Collections are perfect for transforming your yard from lawn to flowers, a few square feet at a time! Coral Bells are highly adaptable and deserve a place in every garden. Plant below taller perennials, as edging for a garden border, or as a no-mow lawn alternative. Collection of 4 or 12 plants.
  2. Purple Dream Asiatic Lily

    ‘Purple Dream’ Asiatic Lily looks like a rare exotic flower, with the perk of being reliable and easy to grow. The center of each upward-facing violet-pink blossom is dee...

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    Purple Dream Asiatic Lily Purple Dream Asiatic Lily Lilium asiatic Purple Dream
    As low as $19.99 Sale $16.99
    Per Bag of 3
    ‘Purple Dream’ Asiatic Lily looks like a rare exotic flower, with the perk of being reliable and easy to grow. The center of each upward-facing violet-pink blossom is deeply flecked with plum tones, and ‘Purple Dream’ produces many flowers on each sturdy stem. It’s a fabulous choice for dramatic accents sprinkled throughout garden beds, and the plentiful early summer flowers make spectacular cut flowers too! (Lilium)
  3. White Flame Dwarf Garden Phlox in container garden, Phlox paniculata White Flame

    Flame® PRO White Phlox offers all of the flower power of its bigger cousins, but in a compact, manageable size. In mid-to-late summer, pure white panicles of star-shaped blossoms to...

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    Flame® PRO White Phlox Flame® PRO White Phlox Phlox paniculata Flame® PRO White
    $9.32 Sale $7.92
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Flame® PRO White Phlox offers all of the flower power of its bigger cousins, but in a compact, manageable size. In mid-to-late summer, pure white panicles of star-shaped blossoms top the strong 12-18” stems, attracting butterflies, bees, and moths. The deep green lanceolate foliage of White Flame PRO® provides a backdrop for this native stunner, and shows strong mildew resistance. Pure white flowers on tall stems make beautiful cut flowers, and deadheading will encourage more blooming. An excellent option for small gardens and tight spaces, or anywhere you’d like to add a bright spot in a sunny garden! (Phlox paniculata)
  4. Pink Lemonade Low Grow Plant Collection

    Add a refreshing burst of color to your sunny summer garden with our Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection. These compact, long-blooming perennials are easy to grow, and the flower...

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    Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection
    As low as $31.99 Sale $27.99
    Per Collection of 4
    Add a refreshing burst of color to your sunny summer garden with our Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection. These compact, long-blooming perennials are easy to grow, and the flowers produce non-stop color all season to keep pollinators nourished. Our Low-Grow Collections are perfect for transforming your yard from lawn to flowers, a few square feet at a time! Plant below taller perennials, as edging for a garden border, or as a no-mow lawn alternative. Collection of 4 or 12 plants.
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