Creating Brightly Colored Accents

Containers make eye catching focal points, or can even comprise an entire garden picture when grouped together. With the variety of ways you can plant containers with different styles, sizes, and combination of plants the effects and uses of flower pots are many. this way of adding landscape color has become increasingly popular due to the easy effects and versatility for the busy gardener.

my flower containers 2008

Pretty Pots Of Flowers For Just About Anyplace

flower pot containers

Traditionally, containers are often seen as urns on garden piers, or flanking doorways holding either greenery or shrubs, or as in modern use: flowers. The original use of urns in ancient gardens, Greek and Roman, seemed to have been for the purpose of conserving water.

Large tubs containing citrus trees were used in “Orangeries” were for the rich, but as Victorian times advanced containers and urns of all sorts became common for the middle classes. Many photographs record their uses in gardens and yards.

Benefits of Growing Container Gardens

  • Easy to change, and replace flowers if they struggle or die out.
  • Put a spot of color anywhere, change the location easily.
  • Easy way to experiment with plants and color combinations.

Containers can form a number of functions.

  • They can provide height and interest
  • Provide a movable feast of color, and they are easily planted, with seasonal displays or replacement plants as needed
  • In my case, containers presently provide color while I renovate the rest of the garden.
  • No need to do without our “visions of paradise” whether living in constricted city conditions or circumstances which prevent large in-ground flower beds.
  • Temporary pots of flowers are also ideal for experimenting with combinations of plants and colors.
planter for shade

My planter for shade, with fern, ivy, torenia, bacopa, nicotiana, and begonia.

How to Prepare

Be sure the pots are of adequate size for the plants, and not dry out too soon. Lightweight materials are easier to move and  put less strain on decks. Resin can look like stone without the weight.

Common Materials

Hypertufa and Concrete withstand weather.

Terra Cotta is good looking and “breathes”, it is subject to freeze damage.

Resins mimic stone and terra cotta looks, without the care and weight. They may need to be stored during winter.

Plastics are lightweight and can be good looking, but may be fragile and short lived. They sometimes have a cheap look.


My advice is to always have drainage holes, and line them with rocks or a lining of coir or coffee filters. When I didn’t use drainage holes, the Ohio climate drowned my containers. Likewise, watch out if using cachepots.

I’ve used styrofoam peanuts for a drainage layer in the bottom, but found them very unsatisfactory. The best material is broken terra cotta, which I seemed to have in supply, but barring that, large gravel worked well. Some advise no layer at all, but only the material like coir which keeps soil from filtering out.

A saucer to catch excess water was in order for protecting deck or porch surfaces.

Plant Container Tips:

  • Wash out your pots with mild bleach solution
    use fresh potting soil, ready mixed or your own recipe. Think about keeping your containers larger in size- to prevent drying out
  • Design with the “thriller, filler and spiller” method
  • Most importantly, water daily and keep fertilized throughout the season for best results (fertilize every two to three weeks). Trim back when necessary and dead head annuals. Don’t let your plants dry out! Try lining clay pots or having a water reservoir saucer underneath. The best times to water are at night or in the early morning.

Filling A Fabulous Container


Some of the best looking garden focal points have been an elegant pot filled with just one magnificent plant, but half the fun of container gardening is putting together a combination of plants.

  1. First choose a color scheme
  2. Then the sun exposure… sunny, part sun, or shady.
  3. Finally, purchase your plants and put together your creation.

I like to set out the plant choices together on the deck before deciding which I like in combination, and I love viewing other peoples ideas and taking notes. There are many brand new plants for container plantings that I wasn’t familiar with, but chanced upon in nurseries and public gardens.

It is possible with larger containers to add height with a trellis and some climbing plants- this would work best against a wall surface. Try a variation of the Christmas grapevine coil- only as a base for vining summer bloomers.

Flower Container Style Ideas

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Williamsburg Wren Planter, Large


See more beautiful urns for container gardening on the Prime Picks Page

Unite the Look

Generally I like to keep the styles of flower pots coherent with one another as well as with the general feeling of the house and garden. Although there are no real rules.
Keep Scale in Mind

A country garden seems best complimented by simplicity of large clay pots with decorative rolled rims; truth be told, though, a classic and simple design probably will fit with most home and garden designs.

Kingscote Urn

6 Pocket Strawberry Jar

5 Tips, 5 Recipes See Beautiful Container Recipes More Combination Recipes Summer Planter Ideas Hanging Planters

Soil to Use

Soil-based potting soil has good drainage, it holds water and nutrients well. Personally, I prefer its heavier consistency, and in my sunny, often windswept place that is an asset. Many people advise soil-less (peat-based) potting mix, so it is a matter of experimenting with what works best for you. Both are recommended.

Through the years, consistent moisture was the main condition needed in the outdoor planters. Using a potting soil with moisture holding gel has been a boon.

Some gardeners like to concoct their own potting mix; many recommend using pine bark compost.

Frugal Gardening Has Style, Too

shoes as planters

Shoes as planters

Besides the stylish and upscale pots that are  classic and seem at home on an English estate, something that can be quite effective is the “found” container.

Bring Creativity and Repurposing into the Picture

These can be whimsical and artful, and you might even prefer re-purposing “old junk”. Have an old sink, wheel barrow, or wooden kitchen chair? All sorts of things become garden planters with a little imagination.

Sometimes they need a little help to blend in, sometimes the whimsy of it is enough. Try painting the old tub or adding a coating of tuffa concrete and moss-inviting yogurt. Sounds a little crazy, but you would be surprised how wonderful some of these cast-offs can look filled and covered in plants.

Moss Graffiti Recipe to Instantly Age Your Container

Bringing a soft touch that elicits a feeling of age, encouraging a growth of moss may be a charming touch you wish to try. Pots often will begin to become mossy on their own, but with the following recipe the growth can be advanced.

Get Mossy

Here’s a quick recipe for growing moss on a surface: 1 can of beer 1/2 teaspoon sugar Several clumps garden moss

You will also need a plastic container (with lid), a blender and a paintbrush.

Inexpensive Tools Will Do


  1. To begin the recipe, first gather together several clumps of moss (moss can usually be found in moist, shady places) and crumble them into a blender.
  2. Then add the beer and sugar and blend just long enough to create a smooth, creamy consistency.
  3. Now pour the mixture into a plastic container.

Find a suitable damp and shady surface on which you can apply your moss milkshake. Paint your chosen design onto the wall (either free-hand or using a stencil).

If possible try to keep the area moist over the next couple weeks. Soon the bits of blended moss should begin to grow into a whole rooted plant ~thanks to Helen Nodding for idea and recipe.

That recipe for moss milkshake is just as good for clay, concrete, or resin containers.

moss graffiti

Helen Nodding’s moss graffiti

Keep Flowering Containers looking Their Best

Attention to watering, dead heading spent blooms, trimming back annuals that have been flowering for several weeks are all part of the grooming that will keep plantings looking fresh.
Don’t be afraid to prune over vigorous growers, seed a few fillers, or remove and replant entire parts that are not performing.

Some excellent online sources for planting ideas:
cedar raised bed planter
Rustic Cedar Raised Planter

Fernlea’s Awesome Accents Planting Recipes
“Proven Winners” Container Recipes
Simply Beautiful Containers