Ingredients for Perfect Container Gardens

Mix and match these container plants for full and fresh small space gardens.

The splash of a container garden adds brilliance where you least expect it. It’s the perfect way to brighten up a front entrance, expand a vegetable garden or soften a deck, porch or patio. You can even place pots of annuals among ground covers or in flower beds to add color and dimension.

Container gardening may not be a perfect science, but there are three basic ingredients—vertical, filler and trailing plants. Mix those together in one container, and you’re virtually guaranteed a perfect combination.

Container IdeasFill your containers with plants that add drama to your backyard. <span class="credit">Proven Winners</span>
Fill your containers with plants that add drama to your backyard. Proven Winners

Vertical accents. Look for tall, narrow plants, or consider growing a vine on a small trellis for your vertical accent. Keep in mind that tall plants may need support. To keep them from tipping, try adding some extra weight, such as a rock, for ballast.

Trailing plants. These plants anchor a container and soften the look. As with vertical accents, it’s important to remember to pick something that doesn’t take over the container.

Filler plants. The remaining space between vertical and trailing plants should be packed with fillers. These are medium-sized plants that round out the container.

Fillers give containers personality. Color echoing, repeating the color or foliage of the vertical or cascading plant, is a great way to tie it all together. You can also select contrasting colors for a visual punch or mellow it out with complementary-colored plants.

Here are some surefire container picks that can be mixed and matched. It’s that easy!


  1. Bronze fennel
  2. Dwarf papyrus
  3. Ornamental grasses
  4. Purple Majesty millet
  5. Spike (Dracaena)


  1. Coleus
  2. Geranium
  3. Impatiens
  4. Penta
  5. Verbena


  1. Dichondra
  2. Lamium
  3. Licorice vine
  4. Petunia
  5. Sweet potato vine