Everything in this slideshow
Look for Unusual Plants
Extra-special plants can make a big difference. Here, dracaena (a common houseplant) creates a tropical touch when used outdoors — especially against a stunning taffeta plant.
A. Beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii) — 2
B. Taffeta plant (Hoffmannia ghiesbreghtii) — 1
C. Dracaena ‘Song of India’ — 2
Go Bold with Color
Pick your plants wisely and you can enjoy a colorful container of fine foliage. Here, a variety of coleus create drama and impact without a single bloom.
A. Coleus (Solenostemon ‘Kiwi Fern’) — 1
B. Coleus (Solenostemon ‘Brilliancy’) — 1
C. Geranium (Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’) — 1
D. Golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) — 1
E. Coral Bells (Heuchera ‘Sashay’) — 1
F. Coleus (Solenostemon ‘Kingwood Torch’) — 1
- Click here to learn more about growing coleus
Be Creative with Your Container
Mix fun foliage with an interesting container to create season-long good looks. Watch for fun containers — or embellish the pots you already have with paint or other decorations for a unique display that fits your personality perfectly.
A. Canna ‘Phasion’ — 1
B. Canna ‘Tropicanna’ — 1
C. Caladium ‘Florida Red Ruffles’ 1
D. Geranium (Pelargonium ‘Happy Thought’) — 1
E. Impatiens balsimina ‘Ice’ Series — 1
Blood banana, an oversize tender perennial, stars in this show. But each of the supporting players holds its own with an outstanding trait, such as color or form.
A. Blood banana (Musa zebrina)
B. Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’
C. Geranium ‘Persian Queen’
D. Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’
E. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Try Subtle Colors
Colors don’t have to be bold and bright to create great-looking container garden. Just like indoor decor, you can make a statement with neutrals, as seen in this lovely planting.
A. Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) — 1
B. Coleus (Solenosemon ‘Penney’) — 2
C. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’) — 1
Make It Easy with Drought-Tolerant Plants
This use of succulents in a stone trough is trendy and modern. It’s also extra-easy to care for as the plants require little water.
A. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) — 4
B. Sedum spathulifolium — 5
C. Sedum commixtum — 6
Try the Minimalist Look
Modern and minimalist: This container looks good just about everywhere. Because this easy-growing succulent requires minimal watering, it’ll be a stunner even if you forget to water it from time to time. Echeveria is a good houseplant, too, so you can bring it indoors at season’s end and enjoy it all year long.
A. Echeveria ‘Red Tide’ — 1
Create a Low-Care Container
A mix of colorful, drought-tolerant sedums creates foliage interest from spring to late summer; then in fall, they’ll burst into bloom providing yet another season of interest. Bonus: Plant these perennials in your garden as they finish blooming and you can enjoy them again next year.
A. Sedum ‘Matrona’ — 2
B. Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’ — 1
C. Sedum ‘Red Cauli’ — 1
- Click here to learn about other great sedums
Go with a Grassy Look
Grasses and similar-looking plants have great texture. We love that this combo is as easy to care for as it is beautiful. These tough plants will look as great at the end of the season as they did when you planted them.
A. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax ‘Pink Stripe’) — 1
B. Sedge (Carex testacea) — 5
Create a Crisp, Clean Look
Using silver and white gives you a clean, elegant look that fits well with any garden style. We love how the mix of textures adds to the design.
A. Plectranthus argentatus — 2
B. Verbena ‘Babylon White’ — 3
C. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare ‘Variegatum’) — 3
D. Dusty Miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa ‘Colchester White’) — 1
- Click here to learn about other great silver-leafed plants
Go for the Dark Side
This oxalis offers deep purple foliage that creates depth and mystery. Oxalis grows well as a houseplant, too, so you can bring it in at the end of the season for year-round appeal.
A. Oxalis regnellii ‘Charmed Wine’ — 5
Accent Foliage with Flowers
The mix of textures in this container look good by themselves, but a fragrant rose creates the perfect complement to top it off.
A. Plectranthus coleoides marginata — 1
B. Dusty Miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa ‘Colchester White’) — 2
C. Rose (Rosa ‘Winsome’) — 1
Enjoy Old-Fashioned Appeal
This beautiful container takes advantage of color and textural contrasts to create interest. The bright golden-yellow coleus sets off the silver and black trailing plants while the fountain grass adds height and texture.
A. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) — 3
B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’) — 3
C. Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) — 1
D. Coleus (Solensostemon ‘Life Line’) — 2
Change with the Seasons
A rustic container requires a rustic, informal approach. The ivy and licorice plant will look good all season long. Switch out bloomers as they fade to keep your container looking fresh from first thing in spring to the very end of the season.
A. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’) — 2
B. Viola cornuta ‘Azure Wing’ — 2
C. Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Buttercup’) — 2
Add Waves of Color
Use different plants habits to create lots of interest. Here, draping sweet potato vine and licorice plant create a striking contrast against the upright shapes of beefsteak plant and plectranthus.
A. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’) — 3
B. Plectranthus coleoides marginata — 1
C. Beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii) — 1
D. Marigold (Tagetes ‘Lemon Gem’) — 1
E. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) — 3
Create the Illusion of Movement
Use plants’ shapes to create the look of movement. Here, the gentle curve of tapeworm plant draws the eye up from a dark mass of coleus.
A. Tapeworm plant (Homalocladium platycladum) — 1
B. Elephant’s ear (Alocasia ‘Hilo Beauty’) — 1
C. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) — 1
D. Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Glacier’) — 1
E. Coleus (Solenosemon ‘Purple Duckfoot’) — 1
Add Sensory Appeal
Add an extra dimension to your container gardens with fragrance. Here, a collection of herbs look as good as they smell.
A. Purple sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurea’) — 2
B. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) — 3
C. Golden marjoram (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) — 2
- Click here for more on fragrant plants
Video: Container Garden Design Tips
Get inspired by the designs you see here? Watch this quick video to learn the basics of creating container gardens.
Let Opposites Attract
In plant circles, opposites attract and create lovely effects. Here, silver and black team up with additional contrast from chartreuse. The black urn heightens the plants’ impact.
A. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax ‘Atropurpureum’)
B. Geranium ‘Persian Queen’
C. Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Pair Plants with Chemistry
Like guests at a dinner party, some plants have instant rapport. This grouping plays off each plant’s best qualities.
A. New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax)
B. Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
C. Golden Plectranthus
D. Sansevieria trifasciata
E. Silver thyme (Thymus argenteus)
F. Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’
Play with Textural Theatrics
The secret tot his attention-grabbing combination is a mix of forms and textures. These foliage plants produce a dramatic effect without the assistance of showy flowers.
A: New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax)
B. ‘Happy Thought’ Geranium
C. Calamondin x citrofortunella mitis
D. Coral bells (Heuchera ‘Amethyst Mist’)
E. Fiber-optic grass (Isolepis ceruna)
Stick with a Theme
Each of the plants in this bold scheme contributes to the overall purple-green theme. The plants also share a preference for part shade and evenly damp soil.
A. New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax)
B. Black taro (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’)
C. Macho fern (Nephrolepsis bierata ‘Macho’)
D. Wire vine (Muehlenbeckia oxillaris)
E. Geranium ‘Happy Thought’