Container Gardening Ideas You Can Use!

Container gardening has been around almost since the beginning of time, in early Greece people were growing plants in containers.

The idea of having your garden become portable appeals to most of us as it means you can change the look of your garden with the seasons, or even as you change your mind.

Let me show you what is possible with a couple of container garden ideas. I will also show you what is possible in a small area.

I will show you how to create a lovely garden you will want to show off to your friends in a very small space. You can download the plan to use for free, or you can take the ideas I will show you and create your own design.

Containers Are Great For an Ever-Changing Garden

You have the option of moving pots in and out when certain plants come into their time of looking their best or their prime flowering period.

Most plants can be grown in containers, plants from small annual flowers to shrubs and trees, vegetables and bulbs can all be grown in containers.

The variety of containers are almost endless as well giving us a choice of how our container gardens look.

Beautiful glazed pots, unglazed terra cotta, moss baskets hung at eye level and wood boxes either sitting on the patio or hanging up, these are just the tip of the iceberg when considering our container gardening options.

If you follow a few simple rules that we will teach you, you can have a very rewarding beautiful container garden that enhances the look of your home and garden without headache or frustrations that may follow you if you ignore the rules.

If you would rather just get to the plans, check out our Courtyard Container Garden Plan. You may want to download this plan for free, it's an awesome courtyard garden that you will want for your own.

Planning Lays the Foundation for Success!

When planning your container gardening, you may want to start by thinking about what look you are comfortable with. Do you want to match the style of your present yard?

A style such as Formal, Cottage, Asian, or Contemporary? This will be a huge determining factor in planning the design of your garden.

We present a couple of container garden plans here, the first is here, Container Garden Design #1 for a design for one of the pots shown here. It's a beautiful pot and packs a lot of detail, color and texture.

I have listed the plants that are used in the photo, I encourage you though to use your imagination and create one of your own.

Container Garden Design #2, is the other design, I knew some of you would not want to wait until the end of the page before looking at a design, so here you go.

Where Do We Start??

You will probably start with the containers themselves, they will need to match the style or look of the yard they will be in. 

If you have an eclectic style yard, then your job will be easy, just about any container will work, and a combination of styles will look just fine.

If your yard is a contemporary style, you will want to find containers with a clean look with straight lines and strong architectural lines to keep in with your style and accentuate it.

Container gardening does not have to be expensive either, there are several outlets where they sell ceramic containers that are seconds or are perfectly good quality at a good discount, check your local stores. Some of the discount retailers of clothing and home goods have containers for sale at a great price.

Wood containers can be built at home if you are fairly handy with a hammer and nails, depending on your skill level, you can have a wonderful container at a fraction of the price of one bought in a specialty store.

Wire baskets lined with moss are an affordable alternative that looks natural, and does not cost an arm and a leg. Again, keep the style in mind when choosing which type of container to use.

Which plants to use is the second most important decision to make in your container gardening.

One consideration first is what function will your containers serve? Are they just to accent certain areas of the garden?

Will they serve as a screen to hide an area of the garden you don't want seen? Will they serve as an architectural element of design in the garden?

The answers to these questions will help to determine the type of plants you will need in your design.

After you have an idea of the function of the containers, you can narrow down your plant choices by categorizing the types of plants needed.

Use categories like; tall plants, medium height plants, short plants, color, tall or short accents, etc.

After you have this list, you can then determine which plants fulfill the required role that plant will play.

I hope I haven't made this sound too complicated, I'm just giving you a way to organize your thoughts so it becomes an easy process to follow and what you end up with is a wonderfully pleasing container garden you can be proud of.

Plants for Container Gardens

Consider the following plants for your container gardening;

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are the permanent framework for your garden. while the annual flowers and bulbs take the show in their times of bloom, the old standbys will be the trees and shrubs will be there, dependable and always there to backup their more showy cousins.

Consider smaller trees and shrubs, be mindful of foliage color, texture, flowers and other attributes that will make your containers stand out.

When considering trees, Palms are always a good candidate, Japanese maples are wonderful as their leaves put on a show all their own. Small Pines can be nice in a large pot.

In the shrub category, azaleas are always a great potted plant, the tree forms are very nice when you need a tall accent. Camellias are beautiful in or out of bloom as their leaves are such a nice dark shiny green.

Gardenias with their wonderful scent can be moved close to a window or door so they can be enjoyed inside the house. Hydrangeas, Roses, Bouganvilleas and Bird of Paradise are wonderful flowering shrubs that will fill the garden with their colorful blooms.

Annuals and Perennials

Annuals and Perennials will provide areas of intense color to really punch up the wow factor of your container gardening.

Annuals should be considered as temporary plants that will have to be replaced 3-4 times a year but they are inexpensive and may be worth the extra work and money for their bright colors.

Some perennials are better suited for containers than others, consider;

  • Agapanthus
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Geraniums
  • Marguerite daisy

Use as accents with seasonal color on a permanent plant.

When thinking about these, remember you may decide to plant only one type of plant in a pot, or combine annuals or perennials with other plants as well to make a community pot filled with plant colors and textures.


Bulbs are a wonderful choice for containers and can be moved in the spotlight when they are in full bloom and then moved to the back quarters when they are done and not looking so good.

The fun thing about many varieties of bulbs is they look their best when you plant them close together in the container, actually right next to each other.

When they bloom it will take your breath away! Good candidates for this are Daffodils, Tulips, Dutch Iris, Freesias, Hyacinths and Crocus.


Beautiful Tulips in spring
Muscari in a log planter


Vines grown on trellis' or poles make a nice vertical statement. Clematis, Jasmine, and Morning Glory make nice colorful accent containers.

Ivy comes in many different varieties and can be trained in many different shapes on wire frames for formal accents that look great year round and can be decorated for Christmas.


Succulents are great plants for your container gardens. They come in all different shapes and sizes and have incredible colors and textures.

The ground cover Sedums are great for cascading over the edge of pots with mixtures of plants in them.

The Aloes and Agaves make a breath taking strong architectural statement with or without Sedums planted underneath.

Many of the Sedums are good candidates for hanging baskets as they spill over the edges and cascade down.

I would not have a container garden without a few plants from the succulent family.

Vegetables and Herbs

Containers for growing vegetables and herbs are one of the best ways to grow these plants as you can control the soil conditions which is often a prime reason for failure with these plants.

Most vegetables can be grown, and placed right outside the kitchen where they will be a welcome addition to the culinary practices there.

Herbs are also great plants to grow in containers, try combining them together in one pot for a good looking container that will earn it's keep.

You can keep trimming what you need and use it in the kitchen and it just keeps growing back for more.

How To Plant A Container, the ABCs

Okay, now the nuts and bolts stuff, I'll take each aspect and go over the details.


The main thing is to make sure your container has holes for drainage in the bottom Without these, your task will be next to impossible, the worst thing for a container garden is to be soggy.

Small pots need at least 1 hole, larger ones will need several. the store where you bought it may be able to drill them, if not and you need to drill them yourself, use a diamond bit and go easy, the last thing you want is to crack that one of a kind pot.

Potting Soil:

The growing medium is extremely important as it will make the difference between a plant that is happy and growing and one that just sits and struggles or just dies.

Be sure to choose a "Potting Soil" and not anything else.

This soil is make just for growing plants in pots. It is made to allow proper drainage and sustain your plants for quite a while before it becomes useless.

Try not to get the cheapest potting soil you can find, you may find you get what you pay for here. the more well known brands are probably the better ones to stick with.

You can make your own but I will not be going into that here, as it is much too complicated for this site.

Vegetables make a splashy color container with annuals


Potted plants use more fertilizer than their friends in the ground. The nutrients get leached through the soil faster with the water draining through the pots.

I would recommend using a liquid fertilizer at half strength twice as often as recommended.

This gives the plants a constant source of food which is more important than making sure it is strong enough. this would be during the growing season only. Cut back during the off season.

Pests & Diseases:

Be sure to check and spray when any pests are picking on your potted plants. It is easy to treat plants grown in containers for infestations, be sure to move them to isolate them so the other pots aren't affected.

Refer to the internet or your local nurseryman to tell you what the pests or diseases are and how to treat them.


After a few years you may find your potted plants not looking as well as they used to or slowing down some.

The soil does lose its potency and the roots will start to encircle the inside of the pot and this tells you it's time to re-pot.

You will need to remove the plants, the soil and anything else in the pot. If you wash some of the soil off the roots, it will be easier to prune them with a pair of pruning shears.

You will want to trim off approximately 25% of the roots. If the plant is one with multiple stems, you may want to divide the plant as well.

Some plants such as Agapanthus can be divided into several plants. You can use these to plant new pots or give them away to your friends and family.

Always use fresh potting soil and re-plant the pot, water it in and you have a new pot that will again give you pleasure for many more months until re-potting is necessary again.

Showy Azalea tree

So Now You're Ready To Plant Some Pots

I hope by now you have the confidence to try your hand at container gardening. It really is easy if you follow the guidelines I have set out for you here.

This is your chance to be really creative and create some awesome potted worlds of your own.

 The sky's the limit when it comes to the number of combinations of plants and pots you can create. Try to combine as many different foliage colors and textures that you can find.

That is what makes the pots interesting. Look at the photos I have here for inspiration, the only thing to keep in mind is to group plants with similar water needs, like use all drought tolerant plants in one pot and thirsty plants in another. If you combine them they will not all be happy.

So take a trip to your local nursery and look at the plants there keeping in mind which ones will look good together, contrasting and bouncing off one another in the leaf color.

Always keep an eye out for pots that you think will give you what you are looking for in that spot you're not sure what to do with.

Always, always just have fun with this, it should be a fun thing, not stressful! You may have a couple of setbacks but you will learn with each success and failure.

And in the end, you will have a beautiful garden that will reflect your creativity and imagination.

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