Create a flower pot design for sun with basic inexpensive garden center flowers and these tips for choosing and planting so they thrive through the season.
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I’ve long admired the flower pot design “recipes” from the big garden sites and magazines like BHG or Martha Stewart. The pots look so amazing – full, colorful (even when non-blooming plants are used), and interesting. One time I actually wrote down the names of the plants to recreate one of the design recipes and headed out to find them at my local garden center.
Not one plant was carried there, though, so I made the special trip to a local nursery. I could find a few (which took a long time with so many plants to look through), but holy cow…sticker shock. The small plants were $5 and up and a couple I needed were $10. It was going to cost $30-40 to recreate that one flower pot design. As you might guess, I didn’t recreate that recipe, though I think I did get a couple other plants so my trip wasn’t completely wasted.
I have found that you can create wonderful flowering containers that thrive all season, though, with basic garden center plants. You know, the standard varieties that you can find at home center garden areas, in front of large grocery store chains, and other places where you can find plants inexpensively. They are what I use mostly because it saves me time and money – especially after my try at recreating a potted plant recipe.
So I thought it would be fun to create a planter recipe for you for sun that use only the plants you can easily find on sale at garden centers. Do-able and easy gardening is the goal around here, which doesn’t include going from store to store and getting sticker shock, right?
I’m sharing the exact plants to look for (you choose the colors you like best, though) with tips on choosing the ones that will thrive, how to plant them, and an idea of how much they will cost. This planter design for sun will need at least 6 hours of sun a day to bloom and perform best.
Flower Pot Design for Sun
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- 14 to 16-inch diameter planter
- good quality potting soil
- Slow release organic fertilizer
- Trowel, soil scoop, pruners and/or plant snips (Fiskars versions of these tools are so strong and sturdy I know I will have them for many gardening seasons, and their PowerGear2 pruners and plant snips have lasted 2+ seasons with a LOT of use, so I feel confident in recommending them.)
- Hose and watering wand or nozzle with gentle watering setting (I’ve mentioned Gilmour’s strong Flexogen hose before, and I’m loving their simple Heavy Duty Thumb Control Watering Nozzle – it is seriously the easiest watering nozzle I’ve ever used! The on-off switch is the bar-like thing on the top back of the nozzle in the photo above – one hand is all you need, which is so nice!).
- Not pictured, but highly recommended: soil moist water-absorbing crystals like I shared about here.
- Plants from the garden center:
Choosing “Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers” is the easiest way to make sure your pots will be full and gorgeous:
- Thriller = tall plant(s) for center of pot
- Filler = medium height to fill space between thriller and spiller
- Spiller = the trailing plants that will flow over the sides.
TIP: when you’re shopping, put your plants in one of the boxes and then set it down on the ground or in the basket to look at all the plants from above. Make sure all the colors harmonize together. There are lots of shades of colors and not all look good together, so don’t be afraid to put some back and select different colors that do work well together.
Flower pot recipe plants to buy:
I typically start with choosing the “thriller” plant, since it’s sort of the center stage. It’s also the plant I will spend a bit more for. You can use one or two tall center plants.
- Dwarf Bedding Dahlia, 4-inch pot $3.49. Pictured is a pink dahlia – bedding dahlias come in many different colors, though, so this design can be made with shades of yellow, orange, purple, or reds, too. Go here for growing information.
- Dwarf Snapdragons, $2.99/6-pack (use 2 only-$1). Use the remaining for other containers. Growing info here.
TIP: look for healthy plants with no yellowing leaves and make sure that 6-packs have a plant in each divided section for the best value (many don’t).
- Sweet Alyssum 6-pack, $2.99 (use 3 white plants-$1.50). Alyssum is one of my favorite fillers for containers since they bloom reliably through the season, can easily be cut back if needed, and their small flowers work with just about everything. Growing information here.
- Trailing Ivy Geranium, 4-inch pot $2.29. Again, these come in lots of colors, so choose your favorite, setting in the box and looking at all the colors from above. Growing information.
- Calibrachoa ‘million bells’, 4-inch pot $2.49. A mini petunia-type flower that blooms it’s head off and never gets spindly, calibrachoa is my FAVORITE trailing plant for sun. They also come in a ton of colors – I don’t buy regular petunias anymore since these look so much nicer for the whole season. Growing information.
- White Bacopa, 4-inch pot $2.49. The classic trailing plant, usually found in white but also comes in a lavender-pink. This will grow longer than the other spillers, making it good for tall planters and hanging baskets. Growing information.
Plant total: $13.26.* A lot better than the recipe I tried to follow, right? And this makes a really full, lovely container that would make a great gift for Mother’s Day, hostess gifts, or birthdays. Personally, I’d love something like this!
*If you’re creating a number of pots, you can save even more by buying most of the flowers in the multi-plant packs. Also, there are often better deals to be found than the day I shopped, so your cost could be even less.
Once your supplies are ready and plants are purchased, it’s time to design the pot. For planting details, I wrote up my favorite tips here you can use to plant containers that will last the whole season. To help you put this plant recipe together, here’s a quick video illustrating how these plants all go together in the pot:
Basically, you want to set the thriller plant(s) in the center, add the spillers evenly spaced around the container’s edge, and then use the three fillers in between the spillers.
Pack all the plants in nicely and water well with the gentle setting of the watering nozzle.
TIP: one of the keys to a flower pot design to rival the ready-made pots you pay $25-$40 dollars for is- don’t skimp on the number of plants. Make it full, like this design, so you can enjoy it right away as well as after the plants have grown bigger.
We are enjoying this pretty pink-and-white pot now, but I can’t wait to see how full and beautiful it looks in another month and through the season! (Pssst: sign up of the newsletter and you’ll be sure to see what it looks like since I share behind-the-scenes content there.)
I hope you let me know if you use this potted plants recipe for your own flower pot design – I’d love to see what colors you use. To share, you can upload a photo to AOC’s Facebook page, or tag @anoregoncottage on Instagram or and use #anoregoncottage so we can see them all.
Disclosure: I received product and/or compensation for this post. 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! This post also uses affiliate links that earn commission based on sales, but doesn’t change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.