Three easy container gardening ideas to recreate for flowering pots in sunny spots using easy-to-find garden center plants, plus planting and maintenance tips so your flowers will grow beautifully all season long. Includes a handy printable checklist to take with you to the store!
This article is sponsored by Gilmour whose watering tools I use and love.
One of my favorite rituals in the spring is to head to the garden center and pick out plants to fill the pots that bring a little beauty to our front porch and deck. The whole process is fun for me - walking up and down the isles to find my favorite flowers and see what new plants they may have, choosing the plants that go best together, planting them in the pots, and then watching them grow and fill out the containers.
Even though I may complain about it by the time August comes around, I even like watering the pots each morning. When I can go out in my flip-flops with a cup of coffee and water for 15 minutes, well that's when I know it's officially summer - or that spring has finally warmed up.
That few minutes in the morning is special time so I try to make the most of it by planning my day, praying, listening to a book, or just listening to the sounds of nature and being present. I can tell you that it's a time I miss every winter - well, after the initial relief of not having to water everything wears off, ha!
So even if you don't have room for more than 2-3 pots, I really encourage you to plant what you can. Who knows? It may just become one of your favorite spring and summer activities, too, if it's not already.
With that in mind, I thought I'd share three container gardening ideas, including purchasing, planting, and maintaining the main pots I'm using for flowers this year. I'm sharing the exact plants used so you can replicate the planter "recipes" if you'd like, as well as the tips I use to organically prep, plant, and maintain containers that last all season long.
- They are easy to find and easy to replicate in your own planters.
- They are usually priced affordably and often on sale.
- They are proven to bloom and last - that's why they're popular.
I hope this inspires you to plant a few containers, keep your flip-flops by the door, and enjoy your own time in the morning caring for your plants while the weather is warm and lovely!
Container Gardening Ideas & Tips
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The first thing you'll need to do is to hit the garden centers and gather your favorite plants together.
Uh, scratch that. I got ahead of myself - but who can blame me since it's all about the flowers, right?
Before you gather your flowers, you need to figure out what pots you'll be filling. You may have containers from the previous year, like me, or you may be starting from scratch. If you already have pots, make a note of which you'll be filling and the sizes.
If you don't have flower pots, you'll need to purchase them. You'll find pots at the garden center along with the plants, but you can also find containers at stores like Target and online places like Amazon. These may be better prices, so you should check them out first.
Okay, now that you have in mind the containers you're planting, it's time for the flowers! My biggest tip for purchasing flowers to coordinate in pots is:
- Grab a garden box at the center, place it in your cart and then add flowers and plants you like to the box. As you see them next to each other you will be able to tell if the colors look good together or not. If some clash, remove them and try again until what you see in your cart is pleasing to your eye.
This works when planting just one pot or multiple pots that will be displayed near each other like my three containers will.
The other thing you'll need to keep in mind for your pots is something we've talked about before: think in concepts of "thrillers," "fillers," and "spillers." This makes it super easy to plant a pot that will grow nicely and look good as it does.
Thrillers are tall, upright growing plants like regular geraniums, fuchsias, patio dahlias, and daisies. Fillers are the small plants that will help fill in the pot like alyssum, upright petunias, impatiens, and dusty miller. Spillers are trailing plants like calibrachoa, ivy geranium, bacopa, and trailing lobelia.
Besides the flowers, you'll need to gather and/or purchase these supplies:
- Potting soil. Please make it organic or at least a soil that doesn't have chemical fertilizer added. With all the watering containers need, the chemical fertilizer will leach out over the season and can harm our waterways with the run off. Long-term use of chemical fertilizer can also change the soil pH, upset beneficial microbial ecosystems, increase pests, and even contribute to the release of greenhouse gases. (source)
- Organic, slow release fertilizer. This is what to add to the soil to help feed the plants and that is kind to the environment.
- Gardening gloves. These are my favorite type with the nitrile palms.
- Garden trowel and small snips or pruners (for clipping any spent blooms or brown leaves).
- Hose and gentle watering nozzle. Gentle watering is key for these just-starting-out plants. The EZ Click Watering Nozzle pictured from Gilmour is pretty cool - the nozzle swivels so you don't kink your hose as much and the trigger allows you to easily click the water on or off. (No longer available–this nozzle is is similar) My favorite thing, though, is the thumb switch which lets you move from a lighter spray to a stronger spray. The lighter spray is perfect for watering delicate flowers like these and the stronger spray comes in handy when I'm watering the pots I have planted with evergreens. Loving this option! I also use Gilmour's Flexogen hoses - they last and last even when left outside all year like ours are.
- Soil Moist Water Absorbing Granules. This is my "secret weapon" (if it's all that secret)! Adding these to pots makes all the difference when the weather really heats up. They allow you to water sometimes every other day, but you never have to water twice a day like some hanging baskets need in the hottest part of the season. My plants were usually stunted and browning by August even with daily watering before I started adding these granules to my pots.
Let's move on to the specific plants to look for if you'd like to replicate these three container gardening ideas in their pastel shades of pinks, purples, and whites with a touch of yellow.
The "thrillers" to buy are:
- 1 Marguerite Daisy
- 2 Osteopermum, one 'Pink Magic' and one 'Spring Day'
- 1 Upright Verbena 'Pink Shades'
Purchase one six-pack each of these "fillers:"
- White Alyssum
- Silverdust Dusty Miller
- White Mounding Lobelia
And these are the "spillers" you'll want:
- 1 Blue Bacopa
- 1 White Calibrachoa
- 2 Midnight Blue Calibrachoa
- 2 Golden Yellow Calibrachoa
- 1 Sedum dasyphyllum 'major'
To help you remember the plant names, here is a checklist with all the supplies and plants you'll need to gather or purchase to recreate the three containers:
Simply click on the image above to open in a new window and download!
These are the three containers I'm planting in their before state (which is kind of obvious, isn't it?). Some of the greenery are weeds, some are overwintered pansies, and some are plants left over from last summer.
It will all come out except for the small mum in the medium sized pot (upper left) - I decided to keep that for late summer bloom. It will have to be pinched back a couple times to keep it compact and blooming at the right time, though.
Every single year I struggle with the pansies in late spring. While some look pretty worn out (like the smaller pot) others still look like they're growing strong, like the robust purple pansies in the upper left pot. I have learned, though, that if the pot is in full sun as soon as the weather turns warm, they start to turn brown and get leggy. It hasn't been worth leaving them in the past, so I always pull them now. But I do clip the blooms and bring them inside - they look so sweet in a teacup used as a vase!
As for the actual planting of the pots using all the supplies and flowers listed, I made a quick video to show how to go about it. It's so amazing to go from the ugly pots before to the beautiful after!
Here are the specific container gardening ideas for each of the three pots:
Small Container Garden Design
- Center of pot: 'Serenity Pink Magic' Osteospermum
- Opposite edges: Blue Bacopa and White Calibrachoa
- Next to osteospermum: 1 Dusty Miller
- Opposite each other, filling in around edges: 2 white alyssum and 2 white lobelia
Medium Container Garden Design
- Center of pot: 'Serenity Spring Day' Osteospermum (next to existing mum - this design works without this, though, since it wasn't purchased)
- Next to Osteospermum on either side: 2 Dusty Millers
- Opposite edges: 'Midnight Blue' Calibrachoa and 'Golden Yellow' Calibrachoa
- Opposite of each other, filling around edges: 2 white alyssum and 2 white lobelia
Large Container Garden Design
- Center of pot: Marguerite Daisy and Upright Pink Verbena
- Spaced around center thrillers: 3 Dusty Miller
- Opposite each other around edges: Sedum dasyphyllum 'major,' 'Midnight Blue' Calibrachoa and 'Golden Yellow' Calibrachoa
- Opposite each other, filling edges: 2 alyssum and 2 lobelia
Note: I can see now I could've done with another filler next to the sedum, but they'll eventually fill in - it doesn't have to look completely full at the beginning.
The basic maintenance you'll need to do is water - daily in warm, dry weather. If you're in a super hot area, you'll want to provide some shade for your pots during the hottest part of the day, even for sun loving flowers. But using the water absorbing crystals should mean that you can still just water daily even when it's really warm.
TIP: When planting always leave at least an inch between the soil level and the top of the container's rim. This will give you room to water fully without the water running over the sides.
When you water, make sure the pot is thoroughly wet. You'll need to hold the water on some of the bigger pots for up to a minute - another reason why it's good to have a watering nozzle that has a convenient off and on trigger!
All that's left is to sit back and watch your pots grow. And of course to get some of that "me time" in the morning with a cup of coffee, your hose, and flip flops. Enjoy, friends!
Disclosure: I received product and/or compensation for this post on container gardening ideas. As always, the opinions, thoughts, and projects are all mine and I will NEVER promote something I don't love and think you will find helpful - promise!
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Make This Year's Garden A Success!