Containers should be easy. I’ve believed this since I first started planting flowers in pots and writing books on the subject. I’ve used this three-step system of container gardening tips in all four of my books, and truly believe if you follow these guidelines, you’ll find dozens of easy container garden ideas every time you hit your local nursery.
Choose a Centerpiece
A centerpiece is a plant placed in the middle of an arrangement. I usually choose the centerpiece first, since it becomes the focal point. I like to make my choice at the garden center and carry it around on a shopping cart to see which other plants I like with it. Some of my tips for choosing a centerpiece:
- The centerpiece should remain taller than the surrounding plants.
- Use a centerpiece with a different texture than the surrounding plants.
- Some of my favorite centerpieces include caladiums, blue salvia, giant coleus, grasses, pentas, Persian shield and showy ti plants.
Choose Side and Edge Plants
Once you have chosen your centerpiece, look for smaller plants with rootballs of 3 to 4½ inches to place around the centerpiece. Trust your instincts. See which combinations make you smile. Some of my tips for choosing side and edge plants:
- Limit the number of different plants. It’s easiest to work with just a few types.
- Stick to mounding plants in the beginning.
- Alternate plants throughout the basket. This way you won’t use too many plants of one kind in a certain area, and your basket can grow evenly.
Choose the Planting Plan
There are thousands of ways to arrange plants in containers, generating unlimited container garden ideas. My three favorite methods:
- The 1-2-3 planting plan alternates plants around the sides and edge, accenting the centerpiece.
- The layered planting plan has the sides in one pattern and the edge in another, with the centerpiece coming out the top.
- The striped planting plan is similar to the 1-2-3 plan, except you place the same plant above itself, just on a different layer.