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10 Container Garden Ideas

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Want to add a little oomph to your garden? Containers fill the bill. Here are 10 easy recipes to get you started.

Two container arrangements.
Container arrangement on old metal chair.

Cottage Charm

People love container gardens—and it’s easy to understand why. For one thing, you can grow plants almost anywhere, which means you get to show off your creativity in unexpected places.

Got a rusty old chair? Make it a pedestal for a container garden. This arrangement for sun or part sun is overflowing with cottage charm featuring dusty miller (Senecio cineraria), calibrachoa, and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)—three plants that are as easy on the eyes as they are easy to grow. The basics of container gardening are easy to learn.

Container arrangement on antique wooden bench.

A Dash of Panache

This New Zealand flax stands tall and proud. With its ample size and graceful habit, the flax is a natural focal point. It’s joined by burgundy sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), which softens the edge of the pot and contrasts nicely with green foliage. Meanwhile, yellow marigolds (Tagetes spp.) and orange-red calibrachoa provide splashes of bright color from spring to fall.

Container arrangement by doorway.

A Flair for the Dramatic

Looking to add flair to an entryway? Terra-cotta never goes out of style. Use a container that’s large enough to make a statement. This 14-1/2-inch-diameter pot is just the right size, especially when raised on a pedestal for more prominence. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum), coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), and creeping Jenny create a colorful greeting in shade or part shade. In cold-winter regions, plant the maple in the ground come fall or overwinter in a cool basement or attached garage.

Container arrangement on wooden bench under tree.

Fun with Foliage

Use containers to soften and blend hardscaping into the surrounding landscape. This shady nook is the perfect spot for an artful mix of foliage plants. Bright and bold caladium is the star with support from variegated vinca vine, ferns, and the blooms of pink begonia. It’s a low-maintenance way to add color and ambience to practically any setting.

Spiky plant with orange and yellow flowers.

Informal Gathering

An offset arrangement carries an informal theme forward. Here, trailing mezoo (Doreanthus bellidiformis) balances spiky New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax). Celosia and calibrachoa bring bright color to the arrangement. You could substitute cordyline for New Zealand flax and variegated vinca vine for mezoo.

Burgundy spiky plant and chartreuse filler plant.

Change of Habit

A simple design idea: Use plants with various habits. It’s called “thriller, filler, spiller.” Here, an upright purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum) serves as thriller, the focal point. Celosia and petunia act as fillers, masking the base and filling gaps. And a trailing chartreuse sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) is the spiller, rambling over the sides to soften the edge of the container.

Chartreuse tree with yellow flowers beneath

Tree-mendous Idea

Who says planters are just for flowers? Add a new wrinkle with a shrub and small tree. This water-thrifty quartet stands up to hot, sunny weather. Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’) makes an attractive focal point. It’s joined by creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis), hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.), and calibrachoa. You can substitute golden privet for the sumac.

Burgundy spiky plant, yellow flowers, and chartreuse trailer.

Lasting Effect

One way to make a container design look cohesive is to echo similar colors. Note how the burgundy hue on the tri-tone coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) matches that of the cordyline. Marigold (Tagetes spp.) flowers and sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) lend season-long color. You can substitute purple fountain grass for the cordyline.

Herbs and vegetables in container.

Handsome and Handy

This planter offers a visual and culinary feast. The vegetables and herbs showcase interesting texture and color. And, of course, they’re edible! Shown here are red cabbage, dill, licorice basil, jalapeño pepper, sage, and rosemary. You can substitute your favorite pepper for the jalapeño.

burgundy spike plant with yellow and purple flowers

Go for Contrast

Plants that are all one color and shape can be monotonous. Stir things up with contrasting color, texture, and shape. Cordyline’s burgundy color and fan shape contrast vividly with small-leaved companions such as creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’), calibrachoa, and coreopsis. You could substitute Angelina sedum for creeping Jenny.

painted terra-cotta pots with a weather finish

TIP: Add Charm to a Terra-Cotta Flowerpot

Decorate terra-cotta pots with a weathered, aged look you can add in an instant. Then make designing container combos even easier using Ready Refills from your local Lowe’s store.