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Northwest Gardening: Contemporary Container Gardens

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Put the petal to the metal. Fill metal buckets and galvanized cans with canna and cordyline for an updated, almost edgy look.

4 metal containers with plants.

By Marianne Binetti

I like to match bold containers with bold plants. Here’s how I grouped old and new galvanized containers for a contemporary look.

plants next to shiny metal can

Step one. I found this shiny galvanized mini can with lid at Lowe’s for around $15. It comes with a tight-fitting locking top, but I like displaying the lid with potted plants to add more bling. When considering plants for such an unconventional container, I chose bold foliage color over flowers. The three plants with contrasting leaf shapes are Tropicana canna, Raspberry Festival Grass cordyline, and ‘Glacier Blue’ euphorbia.

shiny can with pink spiky plant

Step two. After drilling drainage holes in the bottom of the container, I filled it halfway to the top with a lightweight potting mix containing slow-release fertilizer. I placed a spiky Raspberry Festival Grass cordyline to the side of the pot rather than in the middle. There’s no need to be symmetrical with such a contemporary design.

shiny can with two plants inside

Step three. Tropicana canna is another bold foliage plant, with broad, gold-striped, or red leaves that contrast in texture with the spiky cordyline. Both plants like heat and sun, which is good because the metal absorbs heat.

shiny can, plants, and plant food

Step four. The silver-gray leaves of ‘Glacier Blue’ euphorbia echo the silver of the galvanized metal. This perennial plant should thrive for years in a container or in your garden. Just for fun, at the last minute I added a purple cabbage plant to show that mixing edibles with ornamentals in a container garden is a great way to grow more food. Osmocote plant food is a slow-release fertilizer for vegetables, flowers, and foliage plants.

old buckets with cork soil toppers

Making the display. I added two old metal buckets. In one I planted a colorful punch from two-tone purple and white petunias in front of sweet potato vine, canna, and cordyline. In the other I used only gray foliage — two ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia plants in the back, and trailing ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra in the front. Wine corks serve as soil toppers in some containers, shading the soil, conserving moisture, and adding more texture.

Group a collection of metal containers, or just pot up one to update your patio with a more contemporary vibe. Searching my own garden shed, I found a tall, galvanized cut-flower bucket. I planted it with white cosmos and Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ to highlight the tall lines of the container.

Be bold: Mix grasses, perennials, annuals, and vegetables when you update with metals and petals.      

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