Originally appeared at National Gardening Bureau
Create beautiful sun container gardens quickly and easily with just one, two, or three plants.
There’s a reason container gardening is so popular. It’s easy for new gardeners to grow plants without a big time or money commitment. Experienced gardeners use container gardens to add focal points, design elements, and curb appeal to their homes. Apartment dwellers or homeowners with small yards can grow beautiful blooms or tasty treats, even without an in-ground garden space. Container gardens add instant color, style, and beauty, inviting pollinators to visit balconies, while also providing a place to grow delicious homegrown tomatoes on a patio.
But for many gardeners, container gardening may seem a little daunting. After all, if you spend time flipping through garden magazines or searching Pinterest for container planting ideas, you may feel a tad overwhelmed about where to begin. Don’t worry: we’re here to help! We’ve put together some super easy container planting ideas for you that will have you filling pots with fabulous flowers, foliage, and food!
Many National Garden Bureau members offer plants perfectly designed for container gardens. From pretty petunias that serve as “spillers” in combination plantings to dwarf flowering shrubs or compact pepper plants perfect for a patio pot, you’ll find a huge array of plant options to create beautiful container gardens.
To help you get started, try one of our easy-to-create-and-care-for container combinations. Here are options for sun container gardens, using either one, two, or three types of plants per container.
Pick your favorite, and get growing!
Choose a container with drainage holes. Most plants dislike soggy soil, so proper drainage is important.
Summer Sun Containers 1-2-3
One for Sun
If you’re looking for a big burst of low-maintenance color for your container garden, make your life easy: plant only one variety of annual or perennial plant, or add one shrub that will fill the container. It doesn’t get any easier than filling a container with soil and popping the plant in it!
If you adore hummingbirds and want to attract more visitors to your garden, try planting a container filled with flowers they love. “A project I did this year was natural hummingbird feeders,” says Chris Berg, Director of Marketing for Dummen Orange. “The challenge was to get gardeners to replace their glass hummingbird feeders with a naturally feeding hanging basket. We have the world’s first hanging basket salvia, Hummingbird Falls, which creates a hummingbird highway anywhere we’ve planted it.”
Planting hummingbird-friendly flowers in a patio container or hanging basket is the perfect way to attract these cuties so you can watch them as they zoom by for a sip of nectar!
Two for Sun
If you’d like to mix up your container garden a bit while keeping it fairly simple, consider the option of planting a “thriller” with a “filler” or a “spiller”. Container designers refer to “thrillers” as the tall, stunning plant that takes center stage in the container—it’s the star of the show. You might choose a tree rose, hibiscus, or a tall annual or perennial, like angelonia or coneflower.
Add a filler
A “filler” surrounds the tall plant, adding a pretty layer of color and texture to the container design, while a “spiller” literally spills over the edge of the container, trailing color over and below the pot’s edge. If you’d like to stick with two plants for your container garden, consider pairing a tall “thriller” plant with a shorter, complimentary choice of flower or foliage.
“People can get intimidated about what to plant,” says Jennifer Calhoun, Marketing Specialist North America, Benary. “Sometimes simpler is better. Find a plant you love, then find something kind of opposite that complements it. If you have a large round flower (like a Nonstop® Begonia), look for something small and light to pair with it (like Euphorbia Snow Mountain or Nassella Pony Tails). I also love bright bold flowers like Rudbeckia Amarillo Gold. They grab your attention!”
Some two-plant combinations to consider include:
When selecting plants to combine for a container, choose plants with similar light, water, and soil needs.
Three for Sun
When creating a container garden, the three-plant combination is probably the most classic design, using the “thriller, filler, spiller” recommendation. While the combination works beautifully to help you think about proportions and height, consider also using three varieties of the same plant to create rich colors and texture. For instance, three varieties of calibrachoa in different colors, either complementary or analogous, create an easy, bright, and cheerful container planting.
You can take the guesswork out of designing an aesthetically pleasing display with pre-planted container combinations. Each combination includes varieties tested for performance that blend well and last all season.
Look to our Combination Page for numerous pre-planted container combinations for your garden.
Create Your Own Sun Container
But half the fun of container gardening is trying your hand at design, right? After all, your container garden should reflect your favorite colors, textures, and personality. Think about your favorite plants. Choose one that’s taller, one that’s shorter and fuller, and one that trails, and have fun playing with combinations. Mix up your plantings with perennials and annuals, if you like. Some designers use a tall grass or compact evergreen shrub as a thriller, and then change the fillers and spillers to reflect the seasons.
The only “rule” is to select plants you like—and that grow well together in similar conditions!
Try these pretty tri-combinations to get you started: