Welcome Spring with These Container Designs

Spring is the beginning of all of it—the time when the whole lot you have got dreamed about since final 12 months turns into attainable. These potentialities come alive along with your first plant picks of the season. Dependable, hardy foliage, fairly than delicate, fickle flowers, has at all times been my first selection when making a container association. One other issue I contemplate when selecting vegetation is discovering the proper ones for the proper conditions; no plant will thrive in unsatisfactory situations. 

With these primary concepts in thoughts, you can begin your spring-container combos in quite a lot of methods, however two approaches appear the best to me. You possibly can store for vegetation after which go discover a appropriate container, or you possibly can have a beautiful container after which go search for the right vegetation to go in it. Whichever means you select to start out, choosing vegetation and con­tainers that encourage you is a positive strategy to create one thing fabulous.

Aromatic flowers sweeten the pot

Fragrant flowers sweeten the pot
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

Fragrant flowers flower outline

You possibly can by no means go unsuitable with perfume. A pot of cyclamen and nemesia at all times attracts my mates and guests over to take a sniff. These vegetation love and admire the cool spring climate. Including evergreen corkscrew rush creates a linear kind with year-round enchantment—simply change up its companions. In the summertime months, corkscrew rush mixes properly with low-growing annuals of every kind, like dwarf lantana and alternanthera. 

  1. ‘Quartz Creek’ corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Quartz Creek’, USDA Hardiness Zones 4–9)
  2. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum cv., annual)
  3. Compact Innocence® nemesia (Nemesia fruticans ‘Tiktoc’, annual)
  4. Variegated English ivy (Hedera helix* cv., Zones 5–11)


Jazz up the standard suspects

‘Goldilocks’ creeping Jenny adds a final touch of bright color spilling over the container’s rim container combo
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

‘Goldilocks’ Creeping Jenny Plant Combo Outline

Three or 4 vegetation are all it takes to make a terrific combo. On this mixture, the colourful, cool pastel mounds of pansy and African daisy are separated and enlivened with spiky candy flag. ‘Goldilocks’ creeping Jenny provides a ultimate contact of vivid colour spilling over the container’s rim. Utilizing the traditional rule of three—a thriller, a filler, and a spiller—continues to be the most secure and hottest recipe for profitable mixes.

  1. Soprano® Purple African daisy (Osteospermum ‘Osoutis’, annual)
  2. Pansy (Viola × wittrockiana cv., Zones 8–11)
  3. ‘Ogon’ Japanese candy flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, Zones 6–9)
  4. ‘Goldilocks’ creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia* ‘Goldilocks’, Zones 4–8) 


A novel pot evokes a inventive theme

iris, fern, and begonia plant combo
Photograph: courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

iris, fern, and begonia plant combo outline

Specialised pots create a chance for distinctive combos. Among the latest and hottest containers out there are made to look aged and are sometimes molded into the distinctive form of tree trunks, logs, and branches. I stuffed this faux-bois (false-wood) container with iris, fern, and begonia to maintain with that pure, woodsy really feel. Distinctive containers like this don’t want loads of fussy vegetation. The only method is usually the simplest.

  1. ‘Girl in Pink’ fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Girl in Pink’, Zones 4–9)
  2. Variegated roof iris (Iris tectorum ‘Variegata’, Zones 5–9)
  3. ‘Silver Jewel’ begonia (Begonia ‘Silver Jewel’, Zones 9–11)
  4. ‘Fantasia’ variegated English ivy (Hedera helix* ‘Fantasia’, Zones 5–11)


Containers may be focal factors

unusually tall, thin form of variegated boxwood container plant
Photograph: courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

unusually tall, thin form of variegated boxwood plant combo outline

The container got here first on this combo. I selected the unusually tall, skinny type of variegated boxwood to set off the slender form of the pot, whereas the colour scheme was designed to reinforce the attractive patina of the container. I don’t advocate masking up enticing or ornamental containers with loads of pendulous vegetation—or else you’ll by no means see the pot. You possibly can add one or two trailers for further eye enchantment, in case you can preserve them below management and clip them again every now and then.

  1. Sundew Springs™ lysimachia (Lysimachia Sundew Springs™, annual)
  2. ‘Chapel Hill Gold’ lantana (Lantana camara* ‘Chapel Hill Gold’, Zone 11)
  3. Variegated boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’, Zones 6–8)
  4. ‘Silvery Solar-proof’ liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’, Zones 6–10)


One individual’s junk is one other individual’s treasure

old, crumbly birdbath plant container
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

old, crumbly birdbath plant container outline

Virtually something could be a container, with antiques, junk, and handmade objects getting used to carry plant treasures. My previous, crumbly birdbath doesn’t maintain water very properly anymore, so I made a decision to showcase some massive succulents in it. I believed that if I deliberate for mild and darkish colours, smooth and tough textures, and quick and tall specimens, I may create a beautiful scene and exhibit my previous vintage on the identical time.

  1. Sedum (Sedum cv., Zones 6–11)
  2. Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense, Zone 11)
  3. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum sp., Zones 4–11)
  4. ‘Ogon’ sedum (Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’, Zones 6–9)
  5. Variegated mini jade plant (Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, Zones 10–11) 


Add life with daring colours

‘Red Flash’ caladium plant container
Photograph: courtesy of Rita Randolph

‘Red Flash’ caladium plant container combo outline

Once I put my first flowering containers collectively for the season, I would like them to face out. I like to make use of colours that seize me and say, ‘Hey, have a look!’ The fleshy ‘Pink Flash’ caladium is the right plant to start out with, adopted by some colourful impatiens and plectranthus for a bit of chartreuse contact across the backside; the lime inexperienced colour makes all different colours appear extra vibrant.

  1. ‘Pink Flash’ caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘Pink Flash’, Zones 10–11)
  2. ‘Rita’s Gold’ Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Rita’s Gold’, Zones 10–11)
  3. ‘Troy’s Gold’ plectranthus (Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Troy’s Gold’, Zones 10–11)
  4. Dazzler™ Combine impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Dazzler™ Combine, annual)


Recycled foliage does the job

‘Silvery Sunproof’ liriope container plant
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

‘Silvery Sunproof’ liriope plant container outline

Don’t trash your whole vegetation throughout fall cleanup. Foliage that may dangle on all year long ought to be overwintered with the intention to recycle it in spring. The glistening silvery foliage of this evergreen bush germander and ‘Silvery Sunproof’ liriope have been saved from final fall, however you wouldn’t understand it by taking a look at them. You possibly can jazz up a foliage planting with cold-hardy flowering annuals, like petunia and marguerite daisy, which simply tuck in between persistent perennials. 

  1. Bush germander (Teucrium fruticans, Zones 8–9)
  2. Supertunia® Vista Silverberry petunia (Petunia ‘USTUNI60-01M’, annual)
  3. Cabana® Trailing Blue bacopa (Sutera cordata ‘Sutcatrabl’, annual)
  4. Molimba® Mini Double White marguerite daisy (Argyranthemum frutes­cens ‘Argymidowi’, annual)
  5. ‘Silvery Sunproof’ liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’, Zones 6–10)


Bowls are remarkably versatile

Calm-colored flowers container plants
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

Calm-colored flowers container plant outline

Low bowls work anyplace that their full lushness may be appreciated—particularly when used as tabletop centerpieces. Calm-colored flowers mingled with smooth, mounding foliage create a good looking place to your eyes to relaxation. The important thing right here is to keep away from vegetation or containers that might hinder your view; in spite of everything, not all containers should be large and tall.

  1. Compact Innocence® nemesia (Nemesia fruticans ‘Tiktoc’, annual)
  2. ‘Evergold’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, Zones 6–9)
  3. Irish moss (Sagina subulata, Zones 4–7)
  4. Wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris, Zones 8–10)
  5. Violas (Viola cvs., Zones 7–10)
  6. ‘Black Scallop’ ajuga (Ajuga reptans* ‘Black Scallop’, Zones 3–9)
  7. ‘Icicles’ licorice plant (Helichrysum thianschanicum ‘Icicles’, Zones 10–11)
  8. ‘Citronelle’ heuchera (Heuchera villosa ‘Citronelle’, Zones 4–9)


Waterwise vegetation make nice combos

Waterwise plant combo container
Photograph: Kathryn Geruntho Frank

Waterwise plants container combo

Decorative pineapple is a favourite of mine due to its putting colour, its dramatic stature, and its simple nature. It requires the identical well-drained soil as succulents, so you possibly can depart it alone once you go on journeys and it’ll nonetheless be alive once you get again. This combo mixes curving strains with daring spikes and funky blues with neon greens, and lets the decorative pineapple create a darkish, daring, central assertion.

  1. Decorative pineapple (Ananas sp., Zones 10–11)
  2. Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense, Zone 11)
  3. ‘Black Gem’ aloe (Aloe ‘Black Gem’, Zones 10–11)
  4. Senecio (Senecio sp., Zones 9–11)
  5. ‘Ogon’ sedum (Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’, Zones 6–9)
  6. ‘Golden Lady’ panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Golden Lady’, Zone 11)
  7. Pencil tree (Euphorbia tirucalli, Zone 11)
  8. Variegated mini jade plant (Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, Zones 10–11)

Recent begin, recent methods

I’ve been hungry for spring all winter lengthy. Now that the bottom is starting to heat, I can’t wait any longer to get my arms soiled. I begin off my routine with recycled greenery, like a number of mature vegetation that I’ve safely harbored indoors over the winter and evergreen perennials that I at all times preserve round outside. I then scramble over to my assortment of empty pots to start out matching them up. By including in a number of annuals, I’ve full containers very quickly. Listed below are some methods to get your containers off to a wholesome begin.

Make vegetation thrive in the proper potting combine

A high-quality potting medium is of the utmost significance if you would like your vegetation to do greater than merely survive, but it surely’s seldom discovered on the market in only one bag. I rou­tinely use a number of merchandise in my potting media. The key elements are a bark-based combine, a bit of peat moss, coir (coconut fibers), and compost. I add sand and perlite to extend air circulation and drainage. Relying on what I’m planting, I often end off by including an natural fertilizer to my containers. Right here is my primary recipe:

  • 1 half bark-based combine
  • 1 half peat moss
  • 1 half compost
  • 1 half perlite
  • 1 half sand

Attempt gravel for excellent drainage and an ideal completion

gravel for great drainage
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

It’s frequent for many gardeners to seize a number of stones or items of damaged clay pots to cowl the outlet within the backside of a container. I add a bit of gravel or damaged pottery over the outlet simply in order that it doesn’t get clogged with grime and depart my vegetation’ roots swimming in stale water. If I’m rising succulents, I additionally add gravel to the potting soil for even higher drainage. I then top-dress the container with a bit of extra gravel, utilizing blue-gray or heat, earth tone–coloured stones. This not solely is enticing but additionally retains water and soil from splashing onto my vegetation. This ultimate profit is very vital in case you are rising succulents.The very last thing you wish to do is use extra water to scrub grime off their leaves.

Fill the void in massive pots to save lots of on soil

lightweight plastic pot to fit into your jumbo pot
Photograph: courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Oversize or extraheavy containers may be soil hogs, however it can save you on potting combine and provides your again a reprieve by discovering the perfect-size, light-weight plastic pot to suit into your jumbo pot (photograph proper). In case you’re potting up a container the place the sidewalls taper uniformly, you possibly can usually save on soil quantity and spare the additional plastic pot by lifting up the ground of your ornamental container with a false backside made expressly for this function (photograph under); one such planter insert is Ups-A-Daisy (ups-a-daisy.com). This product nonetheless permits correct drainage to your vegetation, may be stored 12 months after 12 months, and is offered at most backyard facilities. It doesn’t match straight-sided pots, nevertheless, so that you would possibly have to fill the void in these containers with plastic jugs.

plastic pot by lifting up the floor of your decorative container
Photograph: Michelle Gervais

Design Suggestions

outdoor tabletop
Photograph: Steve Aitken

Use containers to brighten outside tabletops

The vegetation in a tabletop container ought to have the identical impact as an attention-grabbing conversationalist: charming however not obtrusive. In any other case, the container runs the chance of being faraway from the desk.

Deciding on vegetation for a tabletop container may be irritating: If, for instance, the vegetation develop too tall, the container usually needs to be set to at least one facet as folks sit down to speak. Dwarf or slow-growing vegetation are, due to this fact, the best way to go. Containers may be small, alpine-looking troughs or naturalistic combos. Some preparations may be extra formal relying on the selection of flowers and the container. The choices are countless, however finished proper, these tabletop designs will at all times draw admiring seems—even from the designer.

spring plants
Photograph: Stephanie Fagan

Use your design intuition to pair spring vegetation

Choosing the proper vegetation to go collectively is rather a lot like looking for a shawl to go together with a shirt and jacket, or searching for a tie to match to a shirt. If the colours mix and the textures complement each other, then when it’s proper. If the combo screams “No,” then put a plant again and check out one thing else. In case you don’t suppose your intuition is on par, mimic colour combos you see different gardeners pulling off.

*These vegetation are thought-about invasive in some areas. Please test invasiveplantatlas.org or your state’s record of invasive vegetation for extra info.

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