4 Simple Steps to Perfect Container Gardens

There is something about the sunshine and comfortably warm weather that makes me want to plant a flower garden.  The dilemma?  I have a slight fear of planting things in the ground.  There’s such a permanence to it, and my past history of failed gardening attempts tells me that permanent plants may not survive under my care.

The answer?

Container gardens!

A container garden is basically putting a small combination of flowers into a planter and calling it a day.  Sounds pretty simple, right?

That’s because it is!  BUT…there are a few things to know before you head out to the nursery and invest a small fortune in planting materials.



1.) Consider colors and textures of your plants.

Like pretty much everything else I will ever advise, keep it simple.  One idea is to stick with one color for all your flowers in the container…super pretty and it’s frankly the easiest option.  If you are going to jazz things up with color, go with choices that mix together easily.  Pick one main color, choose another that compliments it, then choose one that contrasts it.  You still have your main color as the anchor between the two…easy peasy.

You’ll also add some drama and character to your containers when you start experimenting with the various foliage shades (dark vs. light leaves or petals) and different plant textures (fuzzy vs. waxy leaves, for instance).  My personal favorites have fun, bright colors and rich Kelly green foliage, but there are tons of options to pick through once you get to the nursery.



This arrangement uses the dark pink petunias as the main color, the pink flowers as a compliment, and the green foliage as a contrast.

2.) Follow the thriller-filler-spiller-method.

This is your no-fail recipe to a great container garden.  It involves the combination of three types of plants that will merge together for a beautiful arrangement.

First, start with your “thriller.”  This is going to be a taller plant that serves as a focal point for your container.  Again, check out what your local nursery has to offer, but here are some species to keep an eye out for:

  • mini versions of butterfly bushes
  • mini versions of shrub roses
  • fountain grasses
  • cleome…these flowers have long lasting blooms full of color that attract butterflies.

Maybe you know something I don’t, but butterflies on my front porch makes my girly-girl heart sing.

Next, you’ll fill in the soil with a couple “filler” plants.  These are going to sit a bit closer to the ground (aka the soil) and tend to be more rounded flowers.  Zinnias, dahlias, daisies, and geraniums are really popular springtime options.  Begonias and petunias are my personal favorites…they’re low maintenance.

Finally, you’ll finish your container with “spiller plants.”  These are plants or flowers that spill over the edge of your container. This is a great way to add some colorful vines or smaller petunias into your mix, and it balances out the height of your thriller.


Awesome example of the thriller-filler-spiller recipe for a container garden!


3.). Give your plants some room to grow.

If you absolutely positively must have a beautiful flower arrangement to compliment your home’s outdoor spaces right away, by all means, purchase full grown plants and put them in an appropriately-sized container.  This is called a living arrangement, and it’s a great go-to when you want to use your container gardens as decor for a party that’s in the immediate future.

If you have a couple weeks (or you’re like me and you simply don’t care how dramatic your outdoor floral arrangements are), then buy smaller plants to begin your container.  This gives the plants themselves some room to grow and is known as traditional planting.  With proper care and nutrition, your container will be overflowing with flowers in just a couple weeks.

Planting them with a little room for growth also lets your plants live a bit longer.  Living arrangements become overgrown quickly and tend to die off faster than traditionally planted container gardens.  Not to mention that planting your flowers too close together is a good way for them to become contaminated with disease and unwanted pests.

I personally prefer a traditional planting…I like to get my money’s worth out of the plants I purchase, so I want them to live as long as possible.


Spreading the plantings apart helps your container garden last all season!


4.)  Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance.

The beauty of container gardens is that you don’t have to spend hours in the heat, trimming and pruning large plants in the yard.  Not only are they gorgeous accents to your curb appeal, but they’re super easy to take care of.  And let’s be real…you have enough stuff to do.  Worrying about a huge flower garden should only be one of them if you really love to garden.

Which I don’t.  So we’re back to containers….

Your container gardens are going to need a little bit of water love every day so they can continue to bloom for you throughout the season (and maybe even beyond!  I’ve had a few last long into summer!)  I also like to take the dead flower heads off the plants as soon as they start to wilt and brown.  There’s probably a science behind it that I don’t know about, but it seems to help the flowers continue to bloom and do so faster.

I like to give the watering can to the kids and let them water the containers in the mornings after they’ve eaten breakfast and pulled themselves together for the day.  Pruning happens occasionally as needed.  I like to have nice gardening tools that are going to last through several planting seasons, and I’ve definitely found that with Pampered Chef’s garden tools collection.

Check out the Pampered Chef gardening line and more at my personal website!


Above all, the versatility of container gardens really appeals to me.  It’s an easy way to update your front porch with the changing seasons (you’ll find that I really love to decorate according to the time of year) while staying within a reasonable budget.  Because with each new season comes a fun, new flower arrangement, this is a great activity to get your Munchkins in on.  They’ll love getting their hands dirty and helping to water the gardens every morning.

Container gardens are a fun way to add character and charm to your front porch and are very easy to take care of.  The possibilities for plant combinations are virtually endless.  You’ll find it’s also a great way to get creative and experiment with your favorite flowers every year!


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