Container gardens are fantastic for anyone that’s getting to grips with gardening, growing plants in a limited space or adding a pop of colour to paved areas. They’re also a fun way to change the way your garden looks each season, or creating focal points within your flower beds. Today I’m going to be sharing some of my favourite container gardening ideas, including seasonal show-stoppers, understated arrangements and container gardens for beginners.
What is container gardening?
Simply put, container gardening is the practice of growing flowers and/or edible plants in pots or planters, instead of straight into the ground. Container gardens are practical if your outdoor space is otherwise hardscaped (for example, a paved courtyard, patio or balcony), and are easy to move around and update as your garden changes through the seasons.
The benefits of container gardens
In many ways, container gardening is easier than conventional, in-ground planting. Their restricted size gives you more control over how large your plants get and, if it looks like they’re getting too much sun (or too little), you can simply pick them up and move them to a different part of the garden. The same goes for water and fertiliser – it’s much simpler to adjust an individual pot than an entire flower bed.
Containers also act as a natural defence against many pests, particularly things that crawl on the ground, such as slugs and snails. At the same time, raising your flowers up will make them just that bit more accessible to pollinators, like butterflies and bees.
There’s also the obvious fact that the pots and containers you choose will add a certain style and personality to your garden, so make sure you find some that really suit your aesthetic. We’ve got a whole section of unusual garden containers coming up!
Container gardening tips
There are a few things to be aware of if you’re growing in containers, rather than the ground. These container gardening tips should help you keep your plants a little bit happier:
- Choose pots that have drainage at the bottom to prevent roots from becoming waterlogged. You can always add a pot saucer underneath to catch excess water.
- If your pots don’t have drainage holes, use plastic ‘liner’ pots to create internal drainage.
- Water will evaporate out of pots more quickly than in soil, so be prepared to water your plants more often. Check the moisture by pressing a fingertip into the surface – if dirt sticks then it’s moist enough.
- Consider the weight of your container and where you intend to put it; heavier pots will need a strong, solid surface to support them.
Container Gardening Ideas
One of the best things about growing plants in pots is that you can start with simple container gardening ideas, and work your way up to more elaborate displays. In this list of my favourite container gardening arrangements, I’ve included a whole range of styles for inspiration.
1. Combine two or three plants
The simplest way to create a beautiful container garden is to combine two or three plants with a variety of shapes and colours. Position the tallest one in the centre, and surround it with shorter flowers or foliage. If there’s space, tuck a trailing plant on each side.
2. Use pots with different textures
As a rule, groups of uneven numbers look more pleasing to the eye than a group made of an even number of things. Keep this in mind when you’re building out your container garden at the beginning. When creating your arrangements, try using pots that are the same colour but have different textures, like these.
3. Use pots of different heights
This set of three containers is really easy to recreate. Find three pots or tubs at different heights, and fill them with a flower of a different colour (or two, in the case of the largest one). These look beautiful next to the raised bed filled with greenery, but would look just as nice against a patio fence or wall.
4. Matching wicker baskets
If you prefer to keep all of your planters looking the same, the more the merrier! These matching wicker baskets are a really attractive way to house larger plants, and would be easy to move around at the same time.
5. Match the existing colors
Container gardens are a great way to add seasonal interest within a perennial flower bed. This one uses plants that echo the green and purple of the surrounding flowers, but with fun new textures.
6. Contrast pots and flowers
Contrasting the colours of your pots with the colour of your flowers is a great way to make your container garden more noticeable. Plus, when you’re short on space, it adds an extra pop of colour to your patio or balcony.
7. Make clusters
Sometimes, and especially in gardening, more is more. This huge cluster of baskets look absolutely amazing, and the monochrome scheme of white flowers is just stunning. Not everyone has the space to pull off a container garden like this, but it shows that simple abundance is an effective way to decorate a beautiful space.
8. Make a seasonal pot
We’re a little early for the festive season, but this display really shows you how amazing seasonal container garden ideas can look. Pair it with a matching door wreath for a magical winter entryway (and look out for our Christmas garden ideas in a few months for more inspiration)!
9. Add hanging baskets
We usually think of pots and planters when we’re talking about container gardening ideas, but there are lots of playful alternatives! Hanging baskets are a great way to add depth to a container garden – take a look at our hanging basket care tips and the best edible plants to grow in hanging baskets.
10. Fill it up!
Here’s another pretty example of how volume can make a big statement. This relatively small patio is home to heaps of containers of all different shapes and sizes, connected by their lush green foliage.
The monochrome garden furniture is perfect for allowing the beautiful textured plants to take centre stage.
11. Garnish a side return
Container gardens are an easy way to spice up a shady side return – add some gorgeous flowers in spring and summer, and then reclaim the space over winter. These long, narrow planters are the perfect dimensions, and look amazing with all these tall tulips reaching out the top.
12. Make a flower wall
Another amazing wall of colour, proving that container gardening ideas aren’t just for small spaces. To pull off this kind of arrangement, you’ll need lots of medium-sized pots and some sturdy benches, steps or walls to stand them on. Although, if you can get your display dense enough, you could even use reclaimed pallets or breezeblocks to support your pots without them being seen.
13. Decorate front steps
Does your front step need some love? Lining up colour-coordinated containers is a sure-fire way to get noticed, and is easy to keep on top of, one pot at a time. These stunning pinks are right up my street, but play around with colours and pots to suit your home’s style.
A common feature in quirky, rustic gardens is reclaiming beautiful worn objects and giving them a new purpose. This old bicycle might not be road-worthy anymore, but it’s a gorgeous and romantic way to display spring and summer blooms. Take a look at more vintage garden ideas.
15. Create a centerpiece
This stone urn makes a brilliant patio centrepiece, and would look right at home in a rustic Italian-style garden. By surrounding the base of the pot with some of the same plants that are growing inside, it creates the impression that the container garden is accidental, and it’s simply being reclaimed by nature. Gorgeous.
16. Bulky containers can work
Container gardens are often delicate and pretty, intended to add plants to a space without being bulky. That doesn’t have to be the case though – just look at these huge stone troughs filled with blooms! Perfect for raised bed gardening in a cottage-garden or countryside setting.
17. Lift off
If you are short on floor space, remember that containers don’t have to be at ground level! These wire baskets are a trendy way to lift pots off the floor, and they give a modern edge to classic terracotta pots. As you can see, this sort of display is perfect for edible plants, as it makes them much easier to harvest!
18. Decorate the windows
Window boxes are another type of container garden that can be overlooked or forgotten about. With some careful pruning, you can squeeze several layers of flowers and foliage into just a couple of feet of soil – and the result is a beautiful makeover for your home! Read our guide on how to make one and what to plant in it.
Which of these container gardening ideas is your favourite? If you like these styles, don’t forget to take a look at our garden ideas for small spaces, our front garden ideas and tips for balcony gardens. Happy growing!