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Upper Midwest Gardening: Tips for a Great Container Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Learn how to combine plants in pots for a brilliant container garden that's easy to maintain.

potted plant

I'm crazy for containers. Every year I try to outdo the last. This combo just might be my favorite -- so yummy I could just eat it up. I call it "Tropical Melon Twist." But perhaps "Tropical Explosion" best describes this potted paradise.


Tropicanna in container garden

The Elements

When I put combos together I do it as if I were putting together an outfit; if I wouldn't wear the combination I don't plant it. So I start with a canna lily 'Tropicanna', which is the focal point for this design. I love the funky hot-pink-and-melon striped foliage that embraces the crowning jewel -- the vibrant salmon-orange lily flower.

nemesia 'Angelart Orange'

I always shop for plants that complement each other. If one plant sports a wild pattern, those surrounding it need to be subtle. Because 'Tropicanna' is big, bold, and wild, I add delicate but vibrant orange/pink blooms of nemesia 'Angelart Orange'.

Lime-green sweet potato vine was the perfect contrasting element to soften the edges of the pot. The vine hangs elegantly over the side almost as if it were a scarf. The burgundy dracaena spike adds fun texture and a thread of consistency with the purples in 'Tropicanna'.

Hibiscus 'Largo Breeze'

Hibiscus 'Largo Breeze' anchors the plantings while offering an explosive red bloom for more tropical flair. This pot thrives in full sun but would tolerate some shade.

Designer-Pot Rules

  • Think of each plant as a piece of clothing--a blouse, scarf or suit--and coordinate colors. It really works!
  • Pots are not jeans--they DON'T go with everything. Think of your pot as a suit and select plants that complement it.
  • Pack in the plants! You want drama quickly. Remember you can always take out plants but it's hard to add in later.
  • Pick plants that need the same sun conditions; don't mix shade- and sun-loving plants.
  • Start with new soil every year.
  • Feed with diluted (50 percent strength) water-soluble fertilizer every week.
  • Don't let the soil dry out. Water as needed (especially during hot summer days).

Can you beat this combo? Bring it on! Send us pictures so we can see what's growing in your backyard!