Container Gardening
Adds Instant Color

Chimney Topper Repurposed As Planter

Container gardening is one of the quickest ways to add color to a drab outdoor area. The instant color welcomes Spring with open arms and keeps delivering throughout the warm weather seasons.

Use container gardening to spruce up your main entry and usher guests to your front door. Consider placing them on decks, patios, porches, along walkways, up stairs, and around any outdoor living areas to add interest that is easier to maintain than flower beds.

Garden centers provide ready-made planters filled with a selection of seasonal flowers and plants that you can easily purchase and place, or create your own for a more personalized touch.

A salvaged chimney topper disguises a plain, plastic planter for a more decorative, substantial appearance.

There are so many types and styles of containers and planters that you will surely find one that strikes your fancy. Prices range drastically depending on the size and material of the containers you choose.

When deciding on what type of containers
or planters to purchase, consider these tips:

  • Purchase containers made of light-weight composite materials if you will be moving them around during the season. Once dirt and plants are added, they get rather heavy.

  • For a classy look, consider glazed pottery planters. Their details and colors can add to a design motif you already utilize in your outdoor decor.

  • For a casual look, consider buying three varying heights of the same planter and grouping them together. Look for those that have a variation of theme too (similar colors and designs with subtle differences).

  • For a modern look, consider purchasing at least three of the same size and style planter. Space them equally in a single line against a wall or along the edge of a porch. Stick with solid colors and plain styling.

  • Look for containers and planters that have drain holes or consider if they can be easily added.

  • Consider purchasing planters or containers slightly larger than you initially intended. Once you start adding dirt and plants, you quickly run out of room (for other plants and for the garden's growth). Larger planters make more of a statement and won't get "lost" sitting on your porch. Consider smaller ones for tabletops.

  • Purchase saucers to sit under your planters if you are concerned with moisture or stains forming on your deck, porch or patio. Elevate your planters with rocks, bricks or specially designed feet to get them off the "ground".

  • Concrete planters are a cheap, classy alternative to pottery or composite containers. They are heavy however, and will crack if left outdoors during colder months. Flip them upside down during cold seasons or store them in a garage or shed to minimize this.

  • Terra Cotta pots and saucers are also a cheap, classic solution that look nice when used in groups.

View some of the container gardening photos below
for additional ideas and examples.

Glazed Pottery Planters

I bought these discontinued planters at a discount during an end-of-season sale. I purposely bought three different sizes for my grouping and threw in one with a varying pattern and design to compliment the group.

Frugal Tip

Glazed pottery planters can get pricey so snag them when you see a good sale to stock up for next year's container gardens.

Glazed Planters on Entryway Stairs

Use shallow plant stands to elevate your planters and containers. This allows water to drain properly and minimizes staining on your porch, deck or patio.

Frugal Tip

Old, mismatched planters placed on their sides (lower right) create focal spots among landscaping. Leave them empty or have flowers spilling out.

Torenia Spilling from a Concrete Planter

Molded concrete planters are substantial yet inexpensive and can be found at most major home and garden centers. Consider the Grecian urn styles for a more formal look.

(above) Torenia, a care-free shade annual, spill from a concrete planter. They are available in shades of purple, pink and blue.

Container Gardening Tips

Many who are familiar with container gardening have heard the terms "thrillers, fillers and spillers". These terms are referring to plant or flower characteristics to use in combination when container gardening.

A thriller would be a large, bold, focal plant or flower with major presence in the planter. They are typically centered or can be placed at the rear as they should be the tallest of the bunch.

Fillers are just as the name suggests; plants that help build up the mass of the garden by complimenting the thriller chosen. Consider foliage type plants such as Coleus, Dusty Miller or Spikes. Coleus come in many variegated color combinations from greens to purple-reds.

Spillers are plants or flowers with trailing, hanging or falling characteristics. They "spill" over the edge of the container adding more dimension and visual interest. Consider the bright green leaves of Creeping Jenny or the deep plum of Sweet Potato Vine, which also has a bright green variety. Torenia produce flowers in varying shades of purple, blue and pink coupled with white detailing. They have a tendency to mound and fall nicely, adding extra color and appeal to your containers.

Fillers, Thrillers and Spillers Fill a Concrete Planter

Concrete planters placed at the base of this entry are filled with Impatiens (the thriller), Coleus (the filler) and Torenia (the spiller).

Small containers of Torenia are mounted on the insides of the stone columns. A cascade of color will appear as they mature.

Flower and plant vendors are becoming hip to the concept of "thrillers, fillers and spillers" and actually have them sectioned into such categories. Manufacturers are even adding these terms to the plant care inserts and labels to assist the container gardening enthusiast.

Note: Look for plants and flowers that have similar light and water requirements when combining them.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Container Plants and Flowers Here

Creative Idea

Frugal Idea

Repurpose that old birdbath into a pedestal. Consider it a fancy plant stand. Do you have an old birdbath that has become rusted? If it's too far gone to use as a safe water source for our feathered friends, REPURPOSE IT.

An Old Birdbath Becomes a Unique Plant Pedestal

A rusted birdbath (center) was spray painted copper and placed in an entry corner. A hanging plant within creates visual impact.

Tuberous Begonias, Fushias (seen above) and Ferns are great choices.

Note: Drill holes through the bowl of the birdbath
to allow proper water drainage.

Inverted Birdbath As Pedestal

Another old birdbath is inverted rather than drilled. The decorative base is now at the top for the planter to sit on. Water easily drains with no modifications in this case.

The verdigris finish fit the current decor and a bold-colored Tuberous Begonia was the perfect compliment. River rocks are placed around the bottom of the pedestal to disguise the former basin of the birdbath.

Another Example

Creeping Jenny falls nicely from a planter placed atop a repurposed birdbath.
Impatiens and Creeping Jenny among a trio of planters

Another Repurpose Idea

Chimney Topper Repurposed As Planter
As seen earlier, a chimney top was salvaged and used as a decorative planter. In the background, an old, wrought iron gate was reclaimed. Its rusty patina provides wonderful interest as a piece of vintage, architectural decor on this back deck.

Other Container Gardening Tips

If you have a large or deep container or planter, place some large rocks or stones in the base to help take up space and reduce the amount of soil required to fill it.

Consider adding fertilizer to your container gardens weekly as rain and regular watering will often strip the soil of nutrients as it flows down and out.

Containers dry out quickly, especially in the heat of Summer. Container gardens and planters should be watered daily to reduce the risk of soil drying out. Plant quality and appearance will suffer if a cycle of extreme drying followed by intense re-soaking begins.

Hanging baskets dry out even quicker so extra care should be taken to check soil conditions during Summer's extreme heat and dry spells.

Try to water them early in the morning and/or in the early evening after the hot sun has begun to set.

Keep watering cans outside, pre-filled with water so they attain air temperature. Plants enjoy cool water when temperatures increase, but cold water can shock their roots.

Eco TipUse dehumidifier water to fill your watering cans and/or consider purchasing a rain barrel.

Hopefully I've provided some ideas and information to get you started with your container gardening projects. Remember to select plants that compliment each other and have similar needs. Play around with your container and planter arrangements and groupings. I place mine differently each year for a new look.

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