The Best of the Outdoor Planters? The Best Fit for Your Style and Lifestyle

Outdoor planters contribute to a garden design that fits your gardening style—not just your decorating style, but also your lifestyle.

There are so many outdoor planters to chose from. Is your preference one large stone planter? Or do you have time to care for an assortment of small glazed ceramic pots?

Room and the inclination to start seeds?

In this section you’ll get lots of container gardening ideas to help you select just the right herb or flower pot for you.


To begin, think about what your particular needs and tastes are. Below are some questions to get the ball rolling.

Is my display formal or am I going for a country or cottage garden look?
Is the site on a balcony or even a roof where weight is an issue?
Do I need flower pots that can last the winter outdoors, or am I ok with bringing them in?
Is there plenty of space to store them?
What sort of pots go with my home décor? Big, architectural urns? Plain-Jane clay pots?
How much money can I spend on the pots? What’s my overall budget and how many planters do I need?
Do I have a thing against plastic pots?
Am I not able to lift big pots, or heavy planters?


Answering these questions will let you know if you’ll be buying a few lightweight pots, or investing in a large, elaborately scrolled terra cotta pot.

If you’d like, you can get the the good and bad news about the various types of outdoor planters now.

See this pretty brown-etched stone urn?

It’s just one of the types of flower pots you can consider.

From really decorative to very simple, there’s just the right outdoor planter to suit your style and your lifestyle.

Three-Tier Dark Cedar Corner Fountain

Three-Tier Wooden Corner Fountain (Cedar Dark)

And if your style runs to the unique, this corner fountain might appeal to you. The calming sounds of water are so soothing, and this fountain is rated for indoors or out. It fits snugly in a corner, weighs only 36 pounds, and requires no plumbing. A unique offering from Home & Garden Fountains.

As you can see, there’s a wide range of outdoor planters to chose from. Find specific information about outdoor planters, clay flower pots, or hanging baskets.

Planters from Goods for the Garden

The reason I love this online purveyor of garden products is that Goods for the Garden is committed to preserving America’s historic gardens, landscapes, and green spaces. They will contribute 5% of their purchase price of every product to an organization of your choosing or to 1% For The Planet Fund.

The exquisite handcrafted and signed, Guy Wolff original planter below right is white clay rubbed with copper.

Below left are beautiful and classic Campo De’ Fiori English terra cotta planters from Goods for the Garden.


And there are contemporary styles, too. The live-mossed luminaria square pots just above are great planted, or filled with cut flowers.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of garden planters–and they aren’t as expensive as they look! Visit Goods for the Garden now to find out more about these planters and other lovely garden pots and garden accents.

The Best Garden Pots for You

Here you’ll find both the Good News and the Bad News about garden pots of all sorts. And remember, the best outdoor planters are the ones just right for you.

Below you’ll find lots of information about stone, wrought iron, cement, and other pots that may take cold weather better than clay flower pots. But, if you’d like information on clay pots, you can find it here.

Stone pots
For beauty, durability, and performance, you can’t beat stone planters and urns. Dry-cast limestone, for example, produces a lovely smooth finish in graceful forms. The stone has porosity, so it breathes, but is also frost-proof, so unless you’re looking at below-zero, you can use them year-round. Even in colder climates, the garden pots can stand out all winter, but empty.
If you need any convincing at all, spend about two minutes at Longshadow planters. You’ll want one. You’ll want more than one!
Stone planters come in all sorts of sizes, too. You can purchase those big dry-cast stone planters (such as the ones at Longshadow) for large visual impact statements.
But stone garden pots come in much smaller sizes, too. Some have lovely scrolled designs, or occur in squares, rectangles, or graceful curves.
These smaller styles are great to use in multiples, and serve well along garden paths, on patios, or up the stairs as in this lovely urban front entrance.
The Good News: Beautiful, big, versatile, keeps roots cool and aerated. Did I mention beautiful?
The Bad News: Expensive. REALLY heavy. In some climates, must be emptied to winter over (but you can add non-rooted displays).

Plastic and Fiberglass
These have gotten better and better at mimicking clay, metal, and stone pots, so they’re a good buy for people for whom weight is an issue. They’ve improved the molding techniques and colorations, so they’re approaching the real thing. Good choices for more and more people.
But—and this is important—don’t buy cheap plastic or fiberglass pots because they’re generally thinner and will not last. They’ll crack easily and you won’t be pleased.
The Good News: Lightweight. Pretty good imitations. Less expensive than the materials they imitate. Weather resistant.
The Bad News: Cheap ones look cheap, and they won’t last very long.

Here are two examples of PVC plastic pots you can believe in. They come with a 20-year warranty and are just two of the offerings from
This small slat planter below comes completely pre-assembled. It contains the highest concentration of Titanium Dioxide available (which protects against harmful UV rays, guaranteeing your planter will never fade, crack, chip or peel.)
Below is a larger green lattice planter with the same construction and 20-year warranty. offers lots of gardening pots (window boxes, hanging planters). Click here to find these and many other stylish planters.
Planter: Large Green Lattice PVC

Iron and Metal pots
These include the scrolly, Victorian wrought-iron pots as well as the newer, sleek contemporary sheet metal pots. The range of styles, in other words, is wide. These can be great “statement” pots, on both ends of the style scale. You can find old, scrolled Victorian urns that are suitable for formal and effusive displays as well as sleek, brushed-metal, smooth-sided silvery metal garden pots that go well in a minimalist environment.
The Good News: Statement planters. You can refresh wrought iron “finds” by cleaning and spraying with special paint found at any big box store. Great in displays seen by the public. Can stay out over the winter (You may want to bring them in due to weathering problems, but they won’t break outdoors).
The Bad News: Can be expensive. Iron does rust (you can treat for this). Conducts heat, so watch the roots. Some are very heavy. Often found without drainage holes (here you can simply plant up a pot that has holes, and drop it into a metal planter).

Concrete Pots
These are also cast, and the best garden pots for year-round planting. They’re now being made with subtle colorations, elegant forms, and their strength has been vastly improved. I love my big concrete urn—very functional, it’s great in front of the house. A real focal point.
Want to see how beautiful these garden pots can be? Check out and (as with the cast stone at Longshadow) you will want one of these hand-built, hand-turned beauties.
The Good News: The best news is you can leave concrete garden pots out all year, planted. They are less expensive than cast stone. Sometimes. Comes in a variety of sizes and styles. Visually supports a lot of different flower planting styles—is versatile and doesn’t overpower the plantings.
The Bad News: Really heavy. You aren’t moving a big urn around, believe me. Can chip. Holds water well.

Half-Barrel and other Wood planters
Half-barrels are rustic and cottagey-looking. Use these garden pots in an informal setting. Some people line them and make water gardens, too. I’ve never tried this, but I’ve heard it works. Other sorts of wood pots include nearly any wood crate or box you have. Be aware that some woods (soft woods, mainly) can rot easily. Best plan is to seal them, so you reduce this problem. You can make square wood pots in an hour or so—so they’re very good for the do-it-yourself sort.
The Good News: Inexpensive, maybe even free. Have a natural look. You can make them yourself.
The Bad News: They deteriorate quickly (though you can seal them, and use hard woods—but still, they have a life span). They’re really suitable for informal displays only.

Make Your Own: Hyperturfa
These are garden pots you can make in your backyard. Or you can also mix up the hyperturfa and paint it on other surfaces, like concrete and plastic. I think these look best as troughs or sinks—traditional pot styles are too man-made looking for this treatment.
They’re most suitable for rock and alpine gardens. Weathered-looking, rustic, and naturally “rocky” in appearance, very weather resistant. I’ve seen nice dwarf conifers planted in these troughs as well as traditional alpine and rock-garden flowers.

Here’s how to do the paint-on version:
Hyperturfa Mix:
1 part Cement to 2 parts Sand (You can also use a dry mortar mix as a substitute for these two)
2 parts compost of the soilless variety. Very important to use soilless, and crumble it.
For adhering to the Surface:
PVA adhesive
Mix up the hyperturfa dry parts and add water to make a thick, but moldable paste.
Paint the pot with a heavy-duty PVA adhesive and let it dry until tacky to the touch. Paint on the hyperturfa mix and smooth it around until you get an even coat and the look you like. Let it dry for about 24 hours. Paint on a second coat if you want and mold that to your liking. Your can wait another 24 hours and go back to the surface to make it look more craggy and rock-like if you want to.
This isn’t a surface you can make look elegant or finely molded. It’s rough and it’s meant to look that way. Go with it!
Garden Tip: You can also make Portland cement troughs in your backyard pretty easily. These are great for alpine and rock garden plants. Try Shundler Hyperturfa for more recipes. You can see beautiful photos of alpine and rock garden flowers at The Alpine Garden. Or, for a more comprehensive site about alpine and rock garden flowers, try Alpine Garden Society
But no matter how much you know about garden pots, you still want to make sure your outdoor planters reflect you–your style and your lifestyle.

The 4 Best Types of Roses For Container Gardening

Roses are a must for any garden. And there are certain types of roses that will grow very well on your balcony, patio, or deck. They’ll provide elegance, refinement, and a lovely fragrance to your container garden.

If you have six hours of sun and some wind protection you can grow beautiful roses–both climbers and shrub-like varieties.
But not all types of roses are suitable for container gardening. As a rule, you want to be sure your rose doesn’t exceed five feet in height. Roses larger than this will develop a root system too large to flourish in containers.
So what types of roses do best in containers? There are four that generally do well:
polyanthus and floribunda roses (plus a few, smaller grandifloras)
tree and miniature roses
some hybrid teas
ground cover roses

In other words, there are LOTS to chose from.

Some experts also note you can grow nearly any rose in a container, provided the flower pot is large enough. That’s true, but the larger roses won’t grow to their normal size, nor will they produce as abundantly as in their proper site location.
So for practical purposes, and for siting on your balcony, patio, deck, or rooftop, my suggestion is stick with the smaller types of roses mentioned above.

If you follow this advice, the larger types of roses, such as some of my favorites–the David Austin old English roses–as well as the grandifloras just mentioned, should be grown in no less than five-gallon containers.

You can also grow some low-growing ground cover roses in hanging planters. And there are types of roses, such as climbing roses, that also grow well in containers. (For information about types climbing vines, including roses you can trellis or site by a garden wall, see perennial flowering vines.)
Here’s a discussion of the 4 types of roses I’ve just mentioned (plus the mention of climbing roses, which can be too large to grow in flower pots:

Southern Belle 36-inch Tree Rose

Miniature, Patio, and Standard (or “tree”) Roses Miniature and patio roses have much smaller blooms than do hybrid teas and some floribundas. However, they come in a great array of colors, are easy care roses, require very little pruning, and have just the right scale for small space gardens.

Standard or Tree Roses have a large rose bush atop a stem or trunk. Generally these grow to between 3-4 feet in height and are made up of three parts: a hardy root stock grafted to a trunk, topped by the rose bush. A very stately presence and perfect for balcony, deck, and patio gardens. Also keep in mind for a stunning statement when placed to either side of the door or steps in your front yard landscaping plans.

The flowers of ‘Southern Belle’ (pictured here) begin high-centered and finish with an English-style cupped form. It has a lovely soft pastel color and alluring scent of sweet fruit and spice. Click here to order and see other lovely roses from Jackson & Perkins.

Hybrid Tea Roses are the elegant, often fragrant, long-stemmed beauties you find in the florist shops. They are strikingly beautiful, with only one bloom per stem. Many are quite fragrant, but they do require the highest level of care of the roses listed here.

The rose at the top of this page, is a hybrid Tea Rose called ‘Bella’roma.’ It has very large yellow blooms flushed with pink, and a sweet antique rose scent and was Jackson & Perkins’. 2003 Rose of the Year®. And the good news for containers is it only grow to between 2.6 to 3.6 feet.

Beach Blanket™ Groundcover Rose

Ground Cover or Landscape Roses are naturally resistant to disease and are very low-maintenance roses.

They thrive in a range of climates, require little pruning, and flower repeatedly throughout the growing season.
The ‘Beach Blanket’ pictured above can be ordered from Jackson & Perkins.

Floribunda and Polyanthas Roses are great choices for containers. They have a bushy habit, and were developed to have the lovely big blooms of hybrid tea roses coupled with an abundant bloom–you can have a large cluster of blooms on one stem.

Climbing roses lend a homey, “cottagey” air to your garden, but are often too large for containers. You can easily grow them, though, in small space gardening sites since they are easily trained up a trellis or arbor.

Small Space Gardening Top Ten Steps for Success

Whatever your small space gardening is defined by–whether you’re an urban gardener with a small plot of land, gardening on your patio, balcony, apartment or condo and have only a few square feet of cement, or have window boxes to fill—you’ll be really pleased with how much beauty you’ll create even in the smallest spaces.

You’ll see how easy it is to plant lovely, inviting, beautiful small gardens that fit you and your lifestyle.

And, truthfully, to me, small space gardening is really very appealing.

Generally in confined areas you’re forced to integrate your garden into your home décor. To me, that’s a good thing. You can visually and literally expand your home by thinking of your outdoor garden as another “room.” That makes it very simple to continue or even contrast the look and feel of your interior spaces.

Small space gardening, especially if we’re talking about the multitude of container gardens available to you—are by far the most versatile of any gardening option. You can change the visual appearance of your garden in the middle of a season, season-to-season, or from one year to another.
There is very specific help for you here to help you find your style and see it bloom to life.

Because you have only a small space to work with, every plant has impact.
Your design control is unmatched in any other sort of gardening environment (except perhaps indoors).
Issues of color, form, and texture take center stage in a very big way in small spaces, unlike larger gardens.

Along with the idea of control, comes how easy it is to carve up your small space garden into designated areas—it only takes a couple of long, low planters for instance, to outline a dining area, or screen off an outdoor staging or prep location from more public entertainment areas.

In other words, yes you may have a tiny garden—and that’s great! Take advantage of all the opportunities it offers.

Small Space Gardening: Your First Steps for Success

Think through the essentials of your site. We’ve gone over this together in other parts of this website. For a refresher, see these design tips.

Here’s the sort of approach you can take. This heat-tolerant perennial sweet pea, from Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Company, can add so much color, but it won’t take up much room because you can grow it vertically.
You can also plant it in a tiered garden style and let it trail. It flowers summer to frost, is hardy in zones 4-8, and is delivered as a potted plant. So simple! Click here to order now, or peruse Gurney’s many other climbing vines.
Essentially, there are a variety of ways you can design a successful container garden. You’ll first need to determine what the sun, soil, watering, and fertilizing options are. If your raised bed garden is right next to the outdoor water faucet, that’s great! But what if you’re having to water from a can you must fill and carry to your site? That changes things in terms of the types of plants you’ll want to use.
Too, will your garden be viewed from up close or far away? Is it down a long walkway at the site of your urban home, clearly visible from the street? Or is it tucked away in the back, just off your bedroom?
Who will see your small space garden matters.

What will the site be used for? If you entertain a lot, your gardening choices take on certain characteristics and must leave out others.
For instance, an enormous amount of plants on your patio and steps might inhibit that great party spirit necessary for entertainment success.
In this case, your planting efforts are better spent in grouping flower pots along part of the railing or in two strategic corners. And you’ll definitely want to avoid hanging planters that might bean your guests.
On the other hand, if this is your reading and meditation retreat, design your small space garden just the way you want it.

Once you know what the site requirements are, think about your design style and your lifestyle. For a style quiz to help refine your ideas, take your style quiz now.
What it boils down to is this: When you look at your small space garden, how do you want to feel? What you plant is entirely dependent on your answer.

Small Space Gardening Design Tips
There are plenty of design ideas on this website for you container gardeners. To begin, learn how color communicates whether we intend it or not.

For those of you gardening in flower beds, here are some tips to help you design them.

Small Space Gardening: Steps For Success
Here you’ll find ten ideas you can put right to work in your garden.

1   A curving path, even if it goes only a small distance, enlarges the feel of your small space garden. If you have that option, put a small brick walkway in, and try to incorporate a gentle curve.
2   The same goes for your beds. Straight-edged beds make the eye zoom forward. You want the eye to linger, especially since each moment of your garden will be very well thought out.

3    Small Space Gardening Tip: Use a garden hose to lay out your bed edges in gentle curves. You can see right away what the line will look like and all you need to do to make very subtle alterations is move the hose. You’ll be surprised at how much a very little “tweak” will make a big visual difference.
4    Think of vertical as well as horizontal spaces. If you have the option, build up a stone wall at some distance from your home. The eye will begin at ground level and as it travels your gentle curves forward, it will also rise. And active eye is a satisfied one—but beware of frenzy. Gentle rises and curves work better to expand the garden space than abrupt or straight ones.

5 Depending on your site, you might also put in a divider. This can be hardscape such as a wooden pergola, wall, or fence, and it can also be made of plant materials. Bamboo, for example, grows fast and is very tall.
You can also use boxwood quite effectively, as pictured above. And there are lots of perennials, too (including ornamental grasses), and flowering shrubs that can function well as small space garden screens.
6    Oddly, a large focal point, such as those large urns you see pictured throughout this site, don’t collapse the space—they can visually expand it. This is because the eye is drawn to drama, and so will go there quickly. But with the other design aspects we’ve spoken of here, there will be plenty of other garden areas to explore, too.
7 And then there are the plants! First you’ll design the garden’s “bones.” These are the structural components, such as evergreens, trees, and flowering shrubs, that stay large and visible year round. They serve as “anchors” for your garden beds and add visual interest with berries, and visual structure throughout the year.
8 Next think of your perennial flowers. If you have a sunny location, supplement the permanent plantings with ones that will come and go throughout the growing season.
And if you have a shade garden, there are also lovely choices, such as this trillium. It comes in a variety of colors, including this beautiful white, and blooms from mid-spring to midsummer. The white version grows to 18 inches, while the purple an lemon-colored ones gorw to 12 inches. They’re hardy from zones 3-8, and are available from Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Company. Click here to order now.
Whether you garden in full sun or have shade plants, you can plan it to bloom sequentially. You’ll have changing visual interest throughout the growing season, and (if you plan it right) your garden will be interesting through the whole year, as well.
9    Finally, you’ll think about what annual flowers you’ll intersperse among the “bones” and perennials. Annual flowers are so great for small space gardening because they’re generally highly colorful, grow quickly, and so fill up the spaces between more permanent plantings effortlessly. Well, “effortless” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they do add a quick visual punch.
10    You can also think about adding in pots of annuals. The good news here is that you can move them around your garden beds as your perennial flowers die back.

And don’t forget the option of vegetable, herb, and water gardening. They’re all great choices, whether you’re working in the ground or making your small space garden right out those sliding doors to your living room.

And—here’s a bonus! If you’d like to learn more about small space gardening in your community, you’re going to love my interview with Linda Weiner, who nearly single-handedly turned Lafayette Square into an award-winning series of small space community gardens. She shares hard-earned secrets from her 19 years as a community garden activist.
For her essential advice–and I do mean essential–about starting a community garden in your area, get to know Linda Weiner then find out her top 4 tips to ensure your community garden success. She also shares how to communicate and involve your neighbors, plus how to avoid common mistakes.

Self-Watering Containers Grow Lush Flowers, Herbs, Vegetables, and Tomatoes With Little Effort

Self-watering containers offer those of us who are gardening in pots (and may be confined to small space design) a large range of plant possibilities.

Maybe you’re very busy and fear your clay flower pots might dry out due to neglect. Perhaps you’ve been afraid to try growing tomatoes in pots because you know they need a lot of water and you know you just can’t get to it.

These garden planters are your solution. They allow you to grow full sun plants, a lush container herb garden, and bountiful vegetable and tomato crops you’d never be able to water enough.

In fact, you can grow an entire self-watering container garden on your patio, deck, or steps.

These pots are just what their name suggests—you put water into the holding reservoir and it is wicked up into the soil as is needed by your plants’ roots.

Like most things we’ve discussed on this site, there is good news and bad news in these sorts of containers.

Good News

You can neglect waterings and your plants will thrive
Because the soil and roots wick up only the needed amount of water, over-watering (and hence, root rot and fungus disease) is generally not an issue.
Many sorts of plants thrive in these outdoor planters, including flowers, herbs, foliage plants, and vegetables

The Bad News

Because water sits in the reservoir, this can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are several remedies. One is to run a hose through the planter reservoir adding in fresh water and flushing out the mosquitoes. You can also add a mosquito deterrent, found most easily in aquatic nurseries (see the garden supplies section for great resources).
Once the water reservoir are filled, the entire planter can be quite heavy. If weight is an issue, be sure to site your pots where they will be well-supported. And if you have a difficult time lifting garden planters, be sure to place the pots where you know they will remain prior to filling them.
Most self-watering containers are plastic. There are two main issues to be aware of here: first, purchase a thick-walled, high-grade plastic pot so that it will hold up under harsh sun and other weather conditions. Secondly, no matter what grade of plastic you purchase, it will deteriorate.

Lavender Plants Are A Great Choice For Container Gardens

I was first introduced to lavender plants many years ago by a woman who had only a tiny plot of ground in her condo courtyard. She loved growing herbs, and was devoted to growing lavender.
She patiently taught me how to select and grow this elegant and fragrantly flowering plant. And to this day, there’s not a place I’ve lived where I didn’t grow at least one variety and usually more!

Lavender – Ellagance Sky

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Ellagance Sky’, won the Fleuroselect Gold Medal award in 2006. Mounds of bushy silver-green foliage produce a profusion of lovely light violet blue flowers from midsummer through early fall. A fragrant flower, ‘Ellagance Sky’ may also be used for cut flower arrangements or dried for many decorative uses, including sachets and potpourri. It’s a new look for the fragrance-lover’s favorite. Lavender prefers full sun and loose, light, well drained soil. Don’t fertilize, over-rich soil will cause the plant to be less fragrant. Plant in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, or in late fall.

If you’d like to purchase it, visit Nature Hills Nursery, Inc..

Lavender plants are pretty easy to maintain once they’re established. They’re:
Disease resistant for the most part, except their squeamishness about damp conditions, both above and below the soil. (It’s that dampness and soggy soil that can result in root rot and fungal disease.)

Drought tolerant. And growing lavender in pots is nearly as easy as in the ground.
The trick is picking the right variety, and being willing to check the pot every year or so to see about repotting needs. You’ll also need to add in new soil each year.

Like a snug fit. These plants can thrive in pots because they enjoy being closely contained.

In fact, they flourish in flower pots with only a few inches of growing space from side to side. This is why checking them on a yearly basis is a good idea.

There are several types of lavender plants to chose from, but the two main types we’ll speak about are English and French varieties.
English lavender is, of course, an obvious choice. There are over forty varieties, with blooms that range from white through pinks and purples. Generally these lavender plants are more drought tolerant when mature than are the French types.

French lavenders, and other non-English types (including the lovely yellow lavender), have a more compact flower head than the longer spikes of the English varieties. As the name suggests, French lavender hails from a Mediterranean climate and has a more rounded, compact growth habit than its English cousin, making it a good candidate for containers.
Both English and French lavender plants are not favorites of deer. For this reason, many people plant lavender in bed alongside plants that deer tend to love, such as hostas.

Another attraction–in addition to their legendary fragrance–is that you can find varieties that bloom from early summer through fall, even in colder climates such as zone 6.
In zones 8-10, of course, you may have lavender plants gracing your balcony or garden path edge the year round.
And lavender plants are not just prized for their fragrant blooms. Growing lavender in pots also affords you some foliage variations–from silver-gray to deep green, and from deep-cut spiky leaf structures to more rounded, green color and forms.

Growing Herbs: Easy, Versatile, Fun And Best of All? Tasty!


Growing herbs in a container garden is a great choice for lots reasons.

Whether you’re a beginning gardener or a well-seasoned one, it doesn’t matter.

And whether you garden on your patio, balcony, railing, porch, flower box, roof . . . these plants work in all these places.

And whether you eat take out or are a culinary chef, you’ll love growing and using them in your salads, soups, stews, and vegetables.

Why will you love growing herbs? They’re pest resistant, easy to cultivate, and lots of herb plants can be started from seed. Some like full sun, but you’ll also find some that are partial shade plants. Some culinary herbs are very forgiving of poor soil and neglectful watering. Plus they grow in hanging planters, simple clay pots, window boxes, or fancy, glazed terra cotta.

And . . . growing herbs is something you can do with your kids. The whole family can join in on the fun.

How simple is it? You can grow herbs in separate pots if you like, but since they also get along well in the same container, you can cultivate a culinary garden right in one big planter.

Growing Herbs Together
There are a few things to think about if you take this approach.

Which herbs trail. These include the thymes. Plant these along the rim so they don’t fight their way to the edge.
Which ones take up lots of room—either because you love them (and so plant a multitude) or because of their growth habit.
What the different care needs are for each herb plant—rosemary and parsley, for instance, develop a woody base and a matt of roots that can crowd out neighbors.


And picture this—You’ve cooked plain fettuccine for dinner. You stare at its bland cream color and think Ho Hum.

Jazz it up with your herb of choice, and then garnish with edible flowers such as nasturtium or the marigold pictured here.

What a difference! From sorry-looking to scrumptious in no time.

The great thing is—you can eat like this most of the year since herb plants can easily come inside after the growing season and cheer up your kitchen window. And—in the cooler months and even some winters, you can grow pansies (an edible flower) outside.

Growing Herbs—Anyone Can Do It
I’ve included specific characteristics and cultivation tips on growing culinary herbs, since these are the ones I grow myself and know the best. The two exceptions are Lady’s Mantle, which I include only because I think its yellow-green, scalloped leaves are so lovely.

And catnip. Have to grow an herb for the kitties.

And then there are lavender plants. Lavender is used in some cuisines, though it’s not widely known as a culinary herb. But who could plant a container herb garden and not grow lavender plants? I confess to bundling up even the dried stems (together with rosemary and whatever other herb endings are left after the season) and tossing them on my winter fire.

Here’s some general tips to keep in mind to grow big, healthy, flavorful herbs. I’ve noted the differences in the specific herb descriptions on a separate page. You’ll find the link below.

Three Important Tips For Growing Herbs

Herbs prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soil (PH of 6.5 -7. Alkaline soil is anything above 7).
They need soil that drains well. Don’t forget to plant in pots with drainage holes.
Herb plants do need fertilizer, but don’t respond well to over-fertilizing (it detracts from the fragrance and taste). In other words, feed—but don’t overdo it.

Create Beautiful Pots with Personality! Put these Two Container Gardening Ideas to Work for You!

Need some great container gardening ideas? Begin by realizing this fact–gardens have a personality whether we consciously design it or not. Learning even a few easy design principles will help your flower garden convey the look and feel you want, not just the opposite!


This is vitally true when you’re gardening in small spaces.

The gardening help you’ll find below is adaptable to growing flowers in in all sorts of conditions–no matter what sort of plants fill your flower pots.

For example, if you need shade plants, think about impatiens, caladium, or angel wings begonia.

For sun flowers, you’ll enjoy day lilies or calla lilies.

And for seasonal flowers–fall and winter flowers, for example–think pansies, chrysanthemums, asters and so on.

And for all-season interest, there are evergreens, such as this spiral-cut topiary.

Design Elements
The three design elements we’ve been speaking of— color, texture, and proportion—don’t exist in isolation. They all work together, and that’s what gives your container garden its visual personality.

The better you understand these container gardening design elements, the more control you’ll have in making sure your flowers, herbs, foliage plantings, and even veggies, reflect you.

The Violetta Round Pot Set contains 4 flower pots from Home & Garden Fountains’ Glazed Garden Terrace Collection. It includes two Violetta Round Large Pots and two Violetta Round Small Pots. Chose Damask Blue, Red, or Black glaze. Click the photo or here for these and other pretty “Pots with Personality.” You’ll also a wide variety of garden fountains offered at Home and Garden Fountains’ website.

In this section, we’ll focus on container design ideas about form. We’ll be thinking about Texture and Proportion.

(And, if you have garden beds, you might enjoy everyday landscape solutions to fit your budget and outdoor investments.)

Container Gardening Idea 1: Texture


Ornamental grasses are a good study in visual texture. Some rise upward, as in this picture of lovely fountain grass. Others have graceful urn-like forms and provide a textured “wall” of vegetation.

And still others are thick and full, arching upward and then pouring over the container sides creating a waterfall-like effect. And they don’t need a spectacular container—big clay flower pots work really well as supports for these fountaining giants.

There are specific ornamental grasses that work well in container gardens.

Texture is not just about the overall form, though. Cacti are not as warm and fuzzy as baby’s breath—literally! Spikes and barbs have an aggressive textural “feel,” while the pendulous begonia blooms pictured here have an alluring series of rounded blooms that are lush and approachable.

Each flower, herb, evergreen, vegetable, foliage plant—whichever your choice is—has a visual texture that communicates. Next time you’re at a garden center, pay attention to how the texture of different flowers and plants makes you feel and what they convey to you.

Do they say “Stay away” or “Come touch me”?
Container Gardening Idea 2: Proportion

Achieving a good balanced planting is based on one thing—making sure what’s in the flower pot complements the pot itself. You want balance—but balance can be achieved in a lot of ways.

These days, you’ll hear loads of container gardening ideas about one sort of design—tall in the middle, a bunch of “fillers” around it, and some flowers or vines trailing over the edge.

That works. But it’s not the only thing that works.

Here’s one container gardening idea you might not have thought of—Asymmetry.

In this simple design, the asymmetrical slant of the spring-flowering tree balances well against the tall slimness of the urn. The spread of the branches laterally is of complementary size to the height of the pot.


Satisfying to look at, isn’t it?

It’s not the usual sort of balance, and because of that, it’s striking.

And here’s another unconventional container gardening idea about proportion—Try focusing attention on the plant pot itself by de-emphasizing what’s inside!

For example, if you have a gracefully tall container, perhaps you want a rounded hillock of evergreen atop—something less eye-catching and very uniform to direct the eye to the forms, rather than the plants themselves. In this case, the rise of the tall container would merely be satisfyingly capped by the rounded mound atop it.

And again, there are lots of ways to get that look.

Here’s one example. See how the sparse spray of red flowers draws your attention to the pot?


And also notice this.

The terra cotta pot is a light reddish color. If the spray had been a faded out green, or some shade of white or cream, the visual picture wouldn’t work. Those spots of red pick up the red clay of the terra cotta, but subtly. They also present a strong color to the eye, but de-emphasized due to the airy texture and sparseness.

De-emphasizing the plants is a neat idea, but it’s really difficult to do well. You need to avoid a planting that just looks like a mistake. Good tips to avoid this include garden planters that are modern and spare looking in color and form.

A minimalist planting treatment complements the design aesthetic. If you’d like to put these concepts to work and create continuity and drama in your design, try these two easy secrets.

Bottom line? Pay attention to proportion and texture. And—how they work with color. Let these ideas work for you, helping you create the look and feel you really want.

The Best Container Gardening Idea? Put it all together! What you want is a coordinated design effort where everything works harmoniously—your flowers, your planter, the color, texture, and proportion should all convey one look and feel.

Container Gardening Just Your Style 

Here you’ll learn what types of flowers are best to grow in containers plus how to create unique plantings that reflect you.

You’ll also find out about growing vegetables and tomatoes as well as growing herbs.

Plus there are tips on growing perennial flowers and annual flowers. There’s also lots of photos, techniques, and instruction for every facet and type of container gardening.

Just moved into an apartment or condo? Love urban living, even with that postage stamp of a yard? Have window boxes, a balcony or patio that needs your creative touch?

Even if you’re a beginning gardener just starting out, here you’ll find all you need for your small space gardening needs.

Including ideas for

window boxes
patio and balcony gardening
water gardens
info. on organic techniques
edible flowers (herbs as well as annual and perennial flowers)
herb gardens
how to grow veggies and tomatoes in pots

Learn how here:
How to pick plants and start seeds
How to plant and care for your flowers, vegetables, and herbs
Which planters and pots are best for you

Need products or resources?
Find heirloom seeds, glorious spring bulbs, gorgeous pots, great sources for online plants, organic products (including beneficial insects), ornamental grasses, hostas, gardening supplies (like the best pruning shears, even if you’re left-handed!) . . . .

You need it, you’ll find the sources here.
And there’s more help—A mega-flower, herb, and plant finder with photos, planting guide, and planting zones.
But what if you don’t know what plants to search for? Check out 150 Best Annual and Perennial Container Flowers—it’s listed 2 ways—by common name and by sun/shade requirements.
Then keep your plants safe—search the Garden Pest and Disease database.

Do you love to cook? Plant a culinary garden full of herbs right outside your kitchen door. Or tuck some fresh tomatoes and vegetables into that sunny patio corner. Learn how here.

Even in the garden or along its paths . . . add dashes of color or form, a little architectural focus in the form of planters, scrolled terra cotta pots or regal urns.
You’ve come to the right place to create beautiful container gardens—and you’ll do it your way—the way that fits your personality, space, and lifestyle.

Take the Trek
This site is a journey of sorts. If you start at the top on the nav bar to your left, you can explore yourself and your style. Then learn about garden design using color and plant form. Next discover what pot and spot is right for your flowers and herbs, learn how to start seeds, plant and care for your pots and planters, step-by-step instruction on water gardens . . . You’ll find all the reliable, complete, easy-to-follow tips and instructions you need to make your garden bloom—in every season!

Happy Gardening!

Container Gardening Help: Color that Communicates

We all need gardening help when it comes to color . . . because color speaks, sometimes loudly!

It can make us feel happy, energized, and warm, or it can communicate cool aloofness, dignity, and reserve. Color speaks to our emotions and our intellect—to our hearts and our minds.


What Colors Say
Since we’re working with small space design, it’s even more vital to understand the power of color.

Why? Because you want your container garden to reflect decisions you make and not appear random. Or worse, aggressive when the mood you’re going for is cool and restrained. Or monotonous when this means “boring” to you, not understated and refined.

Do you need gardening help to make your colors say “bold” and “striking? Or would you rather create a soft, loving feeling in your garden planter?

Are you stressed out and in dire need of a small garden that refreshes and soothes, rather than energizes?

Here’s my first gardening tip on color. We’re generally prone to think of color as either only coming from blooms or being “pretty” sorts of colors–pinks, lavenders, yellows . . . but take a look at the seasonally offered Hellebore below from Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

This Lenten Rose Onyx Odyssey (Helleborus Winter Jewels ‘Onyx Odyssey’) and it’s slate purple to near black in color. The cool thing about this flower is it grows in part to full shade and where I live, blooms in what you might call “late winter”–sometimes in the snow!

Think about the striking contrast this big, nearly black bloom would make in a late winter landscape! Click here to search the Nature Hills website for this and other seasonally available flowers.

Lenten Rose – Onyx Odyssey

Check out more gardening help below. See how you can achieve any of these feelings—using color alone.

Strategic Color Choices

Green will be present in most all color combinations. It functions to absorb and soften some of the stronger colors. It also presents a calming presence since green, especially in the deeper shades, is very soothing.

Monochromatic: To create a soothing, restrained statement, pick a monochromatic scheme of one color and its variations (with limited spots of accent if you chose). Here violet pansies in a restrained cool color range work well on this white front porch rail.


Gardening Help Tip: Try using different leaf textures, flower shapes, and color shadings to create a lovely, sophisticated outdoor planter.

For example, summer flowers in pinks might include pastel or hot-pink tall lilies and nicotiana above non-trailing petunias. The surface of the pot will stack upward. Nicotiana has smallish flowers on upright spikes while lilies present a larger profile. The petunias can have large or small blooms.

Need a tad more gardening help? Add trailing verbena and petunias and you again include contrasting flower shapes since verbena blooms are tight heads of small color nodules while petunias have larger, uniform flower heads. The upper and lower regions of this display mirror each other, reinforcing the monochromatic design. This color palette is the easiest one to manage. Find out more about the plants mentioned here in the Plant Finder.

Complimentary: Think striking and bold. Since yellow and blue are directly across from each other on the color wheel, this combination would be considered complementary.


Here the bright yellow pansies contrast well with blues and lavenders, and even the little white allysum brings something to this clay flower pot coloration.

A spring example of complimentary colors would include yellow daffodils combined with blue hyacinth and bi-colored pansies or crocuses.

Gardening Help Tip: Alter the impression of this color scheme by softening to or away from the pastel. Delft blue hyacinth, for example, would blend well with a small, softer-colored jonquil (a smaller flower size than the daffodils) to make a less-assertive impression.

Also be alert to the amounts of each color you plant. In this spring example, you want blues to predominate, with the stronger yellows coming in as accents.

And since the larger hyacinth will singly make a stronger statement than one daffodil or jonquil, plant accordingly.
Analogous, blending colors: Maybe you prefer a softer look and feel—plant flowers with colors next to each other on the color wheel. Green, yellow-green, and yellow would make an analogous planting.


This basket blends from purple to the nearly icy-blue trailing dichondra.

In fall, you can plant analogously colored chrysanthemums: yellow, gold, rust, magenta, and burgundy chrysanthemums convey a sense of uniformity because you’re using the same flower. An important gardening help tip: Select hues carefully. Make sure your pots reflect decision and don’t appear haphazard.

Emotional Effect of Color:
We know color makes us feel something. But what, specifically?

Generally, blues, and purples recede, or seem to be farther away from the viewer, and present a cooler, more reserved presence. Yellows and reds come forward and are much more assertive, creating a “hot” emotional climate.

Gardening Help Tip: To warm up a cool color, move it toward the red or yellow shades. Blue becomes warmer as you move it toward the lavender shades, for example. The opposite is also true. Cool down hot colors by moving them toward their opposites—yellow becomes cooler as you move toward the yellow-greenish tones.

You can also use plant texture and proportion to add even more beauty to your container garden design.

Three Vital Design Rules

Repetition. Repeat colors and flower shapes, types, and forms.


Here’s an example of a monochromatic green topiary repeated in a formal knot garden. The effect is calming and satisfying.

Even a bi-colored palette in greens and white/creams comes alive with the tiny white flowers of bacopa trailing over the pot’s rim planted with variegated cream and white ivy. And this is primarily a foliage pot—the bacopa flowers are very tiny.

Top this with a rounded hummock of the much larger hibiscus. Plant two other pots in the overall display with bacopa to soothe the eye with repetition.

And there are lots more ways to use repetiton and add drama. to your container garden design.

A dollop of white. In my experience, even in very small amounts, white brightens up a display—it tends to draw the eye and allow the liveliness and vibrancy of the colors around it to come forward.

Odd numbers. For some reason, we humans like odd- numbered groupings. They’re much more satisfying than even-numbered ones and send a message of “completeness” to the viewer. Plant pots in numbers of one, three, five, or seven (etc.) for best effect.

Light in Dark Places
Gardening Help Tip: How to add color to your shade garden:

Variegated foliage, ones that contain shades of white, stand out in semi-or full-shade locations.
Impatiens, in the pastel colors especially, seem to glow in the shade. They’re a really easy flower to grow and thrives in shade. Use them!

And below is another foliage idea you might not have thought about. In addition to variegation, think about the foliage color itself. Notice this Coral Bell’s interesting, pinkish-salmon foliage?

Coral Bells Southern Comfort’s pastel leaves add a pop to container gardens–the eye travels right to it. And to boot, it has really pretty white flowers held high above the leaves.

There are lots of Coral Bells colors–check out Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. for a wide selection.

Coral Bells – Southern Comfort
Coral Bells – Southern Comfort

Color Your Home
Think of your outdoor planters as part of another “room” of your home. It’s an extension of your interior décor (including your color choices and style) and how you’ve landscaped and designed the outside of your home. Decorate this outdoor “room” with this in mind.



This example shows how the bright double hibiscus in orange picks up the orange accents in the ornamental door. The limey green sweet potato vine also blends well with the muted green palette of the focal point in this urban entrance—notice the three colors in the door, all with overtones of green.