Here are some quick tips on designing your own containers for any season.
1. Keep It Simple.
More than anything else, just choose the colors and plants that you will enjoy looking at. That’s the most important part – it should make you happy.
2. Pair Up Compatible Plants
Pick plants that have roughly the same needs in terms of soil, sunlight, water, and fertilizer. For example, if you pair a full-sun-loving lavender that wants dryer soil with a Begonia that wants part-shade and rich, moist soil, then one of those plants will become unhappy living in that container after some weeks. Pick plants that will thrive in the same conditions.
3. Make It Visible from a Distance
Add curb appeal by using bright, bold, highly-saturated colors that will be visible and eye-catching from across the street. It’s better to use one larger container with bold, bright colors than several smaller ones with paler tones.
4. Complement Your Yard
Ensure your container designs feel like part of your home’s overall aesthetic. Do you have a beach house? A cottage-style Cape? A modern home? Choose plants that echo your home’s personality and existing landscape.
5. Pick a Thriller, a Filler, and a Spiller
Pick one “thriller” plant with some height and drama, like a bold Dahlia, Canna, Sunflower, Hydrangea, or Egyptian Papyrus.
Then pick one voluminous “filler” plant of medium size, like Calibrachoa, Coleus, or Ornamental Grasses.
And then pick one “spiller” to grow over the brim of the container, like Petunia, Euphorbia, Sweet Potato Vine, or Lobelia.
This creates three layers of height, color, and volume that combine for overall effect.
6. Use the Color Wheel
Complementary colors, or those across from each other on a color wheel, almost always make an arresting combination. You will see these colors “pop” off each other in energetic, eye-catching ways. Often one bloom is a “warm” color and the other is a “cool” color.
Monochromatic (1 color in various shades) and analogous colors (next to each other on a color wheel) can be just as eye-catching, but often bring a greater sense of calm and harmony to their appeal.
7. Foliage is Your Friend
Don’t rely on flowers alone! Use foliage to help your container have structure, focal points, and cohesion.
8. Keep It Easy-Care
Use low-maintenance, low-fuss plants that can survive heat, cold, drought, and beating rain so you can enjoy your container for several weeks or months without having to replace plants often.
9. Don’t Forget the Pollinators!
Containers can be a great way to attract butterflies and other pollinators to your favorite spaces. Use pollinator-friendly plants that can be both beautiful and useful!
10. Get Inspired by Photos
Garden Answer is a great video series, and has excellent how-to videos for making fun containers. You can also check out some sample container ideas from Proven Winners. And check out their 2020 Gardener’s Idea Book.