How to Plant Container Gardens

With temps finally trending in a warmer direction, it’s a great time to talk about container gardens. They’re such a great way to add color and texture to your deck, porch, or patio).

So I headed back to Lynde Greenhouse, on a day when Christina just happened to be planting container gardens for a customer.  She was nice enough to let me observe and snap some pics, while she planted and shared some tips.

spring container gardens - a good way to add color and texture to the porch, deck, or patio

Here’s a peek into the planting session, along with her great tips and tricks…




Always choose a pot with drain holes.  (If there aren’t drain holes, you can use rocks at the bottom, but I wouldn’t recommend this method of gardening for beginners.)

Tip:  A plastic container that drops nicely into your decorative pots will make cleanup simple and seasonal switch-out easier.


Use a good quality, light-weight potting soil and fill your container to about an inch below the top.  

Fill container with soil up to about 1" from top

Use last year’s soil if it still looks good and is fairly easy to dig.  Completely remix it by digging down, pulling up from underneath, and mixing.  A really good soil should be reuseable for 2-3 years.

If the soil is hard and you can barely get your hand in there, definitely switch it out for fresh soil. 

Choosing Plants.

Our container gardens are made up of a thriller (taller focal point plant), filler (medium size plants), and spiller (lower plant that spills over the side of the pot).  Choose plants that work for your particular sun/shade situation. 

put the plants in the container to get an idea how they look

Plan for enough plants to fill the pot, but still have open pockets of dirt to allow them to grow.   You can set plants around in the container first to give you an idea how they’ll look and how much room you have.

For this container we’re using Coffee Cups (Elephant’s Ear) for the thriller, alternating 3 different colors of Impatiens for the filler, and then rounding it out with Silver Falls Diconda for the spiller 

The "thriller" plant for our spring container garden


Before you plant, water everything gently, so that you’re not planting dry plants into dry soil.  Not soaked  – just a little damp.

Start by planting the thriller in the middle.  Make a hole, plop it in, then press in but not too far – you’re basically just putting a nice light layer of soil over the top of the existing soil that each plant was originally in. 

Potting the plant with a nice light layer of soil over the top of the existing soil.

 And then work in triangles (clusters of 3) or squares (clusters of 4) for the rest of the plants.  In this case I’m working in clusters of 3 because I have 3 colors of impatiens – orange, pink, and white.  I’m planting a cluster at a time – a triangle of impatiens and then silver falls, then repeating.

container gardens - plant in clusters of 3

If you’re using multiple colors of the same plant you can shift the colors as you go around the pot so that you get a nice color mix that’s not uniform but it’s still cohesive.

container garden - planting spiller so that it spills over the side

Find the natural flow of the spiller plant prior to putting it in the pot and plant it so that the tendrils are up and out of the soil and most of them are falling over the side. 

container garden - thriller, filler, spiller

When you’ve finished planting, keep all of the plant tags and tuck them into the pot so that it’s easy to remember what you used from season to season.

caring for the flowers in your container garden

Caring for your container garden.

Find a consistent water schedule that works for your specific plants. For sunny areas generally every day or every other day. For shade areas generally every other day or three would do fine. (That’s what I would recommend for the containers we planted today.)

Basic grooming for any annual would include picking off dead flowers or cutting back dead/dry foliage.

Low maintenance sun flowers include: calibrachoa, geraniums, sun impatiens, and portulaca. Low maintenance shade flowers include: impatiens, begonias, and fuchsias.  (These are plants that don’t require regular dead heading but some may still want to do it for aesthetic appeal.)

Thanks Christina!  Your tips are always so helpful, especially for a non-green thumb like myself, and I always come away from the greenhouse with fresh, inspiring new ideas.

Now to get planting…

For more outdoor inspiration and ideas for this spring and summer, be sure to visit our OUTDOOR SPACES page!

One Response to How to Plant Container Gardens

  1. Connie Logelin May 22, 2018 at 8:59 am #

    CONGRATULATIONS to Schneiderman’s Furniture on the amazing job that Designer Tisha Ballowe did on the recent publication, “Designer Spotlight.”  Her article is informative, personal, creative and quite articulate.  I enjoyed viewing the photos of the lovely Schneiderman furniture and especially reading why Tisha liked certain pieces, including the wall art.  I appreciated her opinions regarding arrangements and selections of the furniture that might be considered best for each room.  Ms. Ballowe clearly has a keen instinct for customers’ needs and their preferences.  I am looking forward to receiving upcoming ads and publications from Schneiderman’s Furniture.


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