Tips for Beautiful & Balanced Container Gardens

This has got to be one of my FAVORITE times of the year. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, the weather is warming up, and it’s time to plant our container garden! We have a short container garden season here in the Midwest – planting around Mother’s Day lasting until September if we are lucky. Last year, my planters, though quite overgrown, grew into October! If only I were so lucky every year!

Since we currently rent our home, the only way for us to dress up the outside of our home is with potted gardens. If I could, I’d have a hundred or more pots filled with foliage and flowers.

Did you know there is a little known secret to making your containers look worthy of a full page Better Homes & Gardens spread? I’ve read it in so many of my magazines over the years & it’s as simple as a rhyme:

  • THRILLERS – plants with height
  • SPILLERS – plants that spill over the side of the container
  • FILLERS – plants that fill up the empty spaces between the thrillers & spillers

Here’s an example using one of my deck containers from last year:

And my other deck container last year:

It’s as simple as three plants. One that grows vertically for the “wow” factor. One that spills dramatically over the side of your pot. And one or two filler plants {depending on the size of your container} to liven up the empty space. The perfect container garden equation. Be sure to use both foliage and flowers. Try contrasting colors and textures to get the most dramatic look!

Here are some important tips I’ve learned when planting container gardens:

  • Be sure you match the plants in your pot by the amount of sunlight they will need. For example, full sun thrillers belong with full sun spillers.
  • Fill the bottom of your pot {about 4 inches} with rocks or sticks to allow proper drainage. I have also used the plastic containers your flowers come in, turning them upside down in a single layer. BONUS: You use less soil 🙂
  • Fill the remainder of your container with fertilized soil specifically made for container planting. Do not use garden soil as it is not formulated for this type of planting.
  • Even though your pots will look thin at first, resist the urge to add too many plants to your container. Read tags to see how tall and wide your annuals will grow when fully mature. You can ask your local garden center staff to help you find the right sizes for your container. If you do over plant, simply cut back some of your plants to thin out and remember to use less plants next year 🙂
  • If your spiller plants are cascading to the ground, simply purchase or make a planter stand to give it more height.
  • Remember to water your containers daily. In high heat, you may need to water more than once! Your plants will start to wilt and look sad when you deprive them of their daily drink 🙂

Do you have another tip for container gardening? Please leave a note in a comment below!