25 Beautiful Plant Combination Ideas For Container Gardens

Are you looking for some container gardening ideas to test out this season? There are plenty to try, depending on your climate! In this article, certified master gardener Laura Elsner takes a deeper look at her favorite container arrangements you can try this season!

A container plant combination idea filled with flowers of different colors. There are blooms of bright red, pink, and white in a gray pot. Behind the pot are other flowers planted on steps cascading down.

Planning and planting your container garden can be one of the most fun exercises a gardener can experience. It allows you to think of flower colors, foliage colors, structure, height, and textures when planning out the perfect container garden ideas. I also think of a theme. What are the vibes my container is giving? Cottage, modern, desert, whfernimsical…?

For beautiful container combinations, aim to have three components: a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. There are many varieties of plants that can take on these unique roles in a container. Each adds color, texture, and definition.

There are just so many possibilities when it comes to planting your perfect container. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite container garden arrangements. There are also some substitutions if the suggested plants don’t grow in your climate. I hope these inspire you to test some beautiful container gardens this season!

Hydrangea, Cedar, and Ivy

Ivy plants and blooming hydrangeas in an orange wicker basket outdoors. A wooden tablet with a black empty background is inserted into a pot with a flower arrangement. Hydrangeas are incredibly beautiful bright pink. Green ivy leaves with white veins hang from the pot. The background is a slightly blurred gray wall and a window.
This is one of the classic combinations of magnificent hydrangeas and a green ivy vine hanging from a pot.

This is a classic arrangement in containers. Plant the tall cedar in the back, then place a compact hydrangea variety in front. These provide a filling pop of color! Plant the ivy so it spills out of the container.

All these plants like to be kept in part sun and kept evenly moist. The hydrangea will especially tell you when it needs water. It will appear droopy. I think this container arrangement is elegant and low maintenance.

Switch it up: Try using a lemon cypress instead of the cedar. Or you can use an upright juniper, such as ‘Wichita’.

*Pro Tip: Try adding some alyssum into the pot instead of, or with the ivy to create a more whimsical cottage design.

Red Scarlet Canna, Royal Velvet Supertunia, Brocade Fire Geranium, and Potato Vine

Close-up of a beautiful colorful pot with petunia, geranium and canna flowers. Cannas leaves are dark burgundy with vivid red bloom at the back of the pot. Geraniums bloom with bright red flowers, the trumpet-shaped petunias are bright purple and the potato vine is neon green. The flower pot stands against a building with a door, brick wall, and large window. behind the container.
Plant canna lilies towards the back of the container, and then plant geraniums and Supertunias in the front.

If you want an explosion of flowers in a hot sunny location, this is the design for you. Start with a stunning Bronze Scarlet canna lily. Plant these in the middle or towards the back in the center (if your pot will be viewed from all angles, I tend to plant in the center. If it is against a wall or pillar and only viewed from the front I tend to plant it in the back center or a container).

Then plant 3, 5, or 7 (depending on the size of your container) Brocade Fire Geraniums. I always use odd numbers for plants, it’s more appealing to the eye. The limey green foliage on these geraniums with the red centers plays off the bronze scarlet canna perfectly.

Then add some Royal Velvet Supertunias interspersed with bright green potato vine to spill out of the pot. The Supertunias are a deep velvety purple color that breaks up all the red in the canna lily and geranium blossoms. The bright green potato vine ties everything together.

Switch it up: If you can’t find Brocade Fire geraniums try using a regular red variety, such as ‘Galaxy’. Golden Lysimachia will work in place of potato vine. Another good switch would be to use a red banana if you can’t find a canna lily.

*Pro Tip: Go large with your canna. Try and find a good sized canna to add impact right away. The other flowers can be smaller and will fill in.

Palms, Tuberous Begonias, and Lysimachia

A small flower bed with annual plantings of bright red geranium and golden Lysimachia. Geranium has round inflorescences of small red flowers and bright green foliage. light green climbing golden Lysimachia liana with small leaves and bright yellow flowers hangs from a raised flower bed. The raised flower bed is in the middle of the street. The floor is paved with paving stones.
The brightly colored begonias and golden Lysimachia hanging from the pot are a win-win for your container garden.

Shade pots are my favorite. Maybe because I live in a cold dry climate, and shady containers have a lush feel that makes me feel like I’m in the tropics. I use this combination over and over again. It’s easy to throw together and provides a big impact.

Majesty palms or cat palms are cheap and easy to find. Go to any garden center and you should be able to find one. Then pick an odd number of begonias that will fit your pot. This is where you can get creative.

Pick a color of begonia that matches your door or patio cushions. They come in lots of colors, orange, red, white, yellow, and pink. The tuberous varieties feature large bold rose-like blossoms. I like getting them in the larger 6″ pot size so they really fill the pot.

Then get golden lysimachia and plant them in between the begonias near the edge of the container so they can spill out. The golden vine really brightens up the shade without being too busy against the solid begonia flowers.

Switch it up: Use an alocasia instead of a palm for an exotic look. You can also use senecio ivy instead of golden lysimachia. It does really well in shady areas and gets large and lush.

*Pro Tip: If you’re using golden lysimachia, plant it into your garden in the fall. You can dig it back up and reuse it in containers the next spring. Beware though, it is aggressive.

Coleus, Lemon Cypress, Spider Plants, and Lobelia

Large ceramic vase with various growing plants. Mixed flowers in a pot. Coleus, Chlorophytum, Ipomoea batatas, and white Scaevolas aemula in a large pot. The background is slightly a brick wall and white garage door.
This unique combination of coleus and spider plant makes a great addition to a flower container.

This is a stunning part shade-shade combination. Use a small lemon cypress in the back of the container slightly off to one side. Then place a red rooster carex slightly to the front so and off to the other side. You don’t want them side by side. Slightly staggered so the coppery grass is wispy and in front of the chartreuse lemon cypress.

Then, there should be a gap behind the red rooster grass. Plant a tall variety of coleus. I like using a mixture of Colorblaze ‘Wicked Witch’ and ‘Golden Dreams’. Make sure you choose a variety that has some height.

Then place a small spider plant in the front. I usually place it on one side. Underneath the lemon cypress is probably where it should go, but use your judgment (I often take a step back and look at things as I go).

Then fill the empty holes with a six-pack cell of lobelia. I usually add some trailing plants. Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ is a good choice, or I will use variegated creeping Charlie.

Switch it up: Use a cedar if you can’t find a lemon cypress. I would then change up the spiller plants to a chartreuse sweet potato vine, or golden lysimachia to add the pop of brightness you would have gotten from the lemon cypress.

*Pro Tip: Don’t get too large of a cedar or lemon cypress. Smaller is better to keep the proportions of the grass and coleus in the container. 2-3 feet would be a good size.

Castor Bean and Sunpatiens

Close-up of a pink Sunpatien fuchsia flower with variegated leaves in a container garden. A simple flower of a small size of bright pink color with variegated leaves. The leaves are yellow with green edges. Slightly blurred green foliage background.
This exotic arrangement will be a highlight in your container garden.

Castor Bean plants look out of this world. They are exotic and strange. So for this container arrangement, I really wanted to highlight the castor bean and not make things too busy. Castor beans have large palm-shaped leaves that are dark with a red tinge to them. Then they grow fuzzy red seed pods.

The dark foliage really pops when planted with the variegated Sunpatiens unique foliage. They have dark green margins and bright yellow centers. The flowers come in a variety of colors. I think red or white look best, but that is an entirely personal preference. You could even do a mixture.

Switch it up: I think the big element in this planter is the castor bean. So switch up the underplanting. Anything sharp and bright provides a great contrast. Golden lysimachia, sweet potato vine, or ‘Electric Lime’  coleus would all work great.

*Pro Tip: Castor beans grow to their container size, so the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant. Half whiskey barrel planters make for a large and dramatic castor bean display. Be aware that castor bean is a poisonous plant to both pets and people.

Palms and Coleus

Close-up of a large flower pot with a tall green palm and a coleus planted underneath with bright maroon leaves with green edges and vining neon green potato vine hanging from the pot. Rest of outdoor garden in the background
This combination of palm and coleus will look great even without flowering plants.

I love a pot that looks great without even a flower. This container arrangement is so simple but has so much impact and interest. Use a majesty or cat tail plant in the center of the container. I use these palms a lot in my designs because they add height, an airy texture, and best of all they are fairly inexpensive.

Then layer lots of coleus underneath. This is where I like to use a shorter variety. Fairway or Wizard mixes are perfect. They often come in mixed six-pack cells. Grab a few packs of them and tightly pack them. These varieties will grow low underneath the palm and be like a beautiful tapestry of color.

Switch it up: Use a single color of coleus. Wizard ‘Jade’ is a beautiful green and yellow variety for a neutral look. Or Wizard ‘Rose’ is a pink variety that would add a lot of color underneath a palm. You could also use a large green dracaena variety instead of a palm. It has the same light airy foliage of a palm so you can really see the coleus underneath.

*Pro Tip: I love groupings of pots. This combination looks great with two smaller companion pots near the palm and coleus pot. Fill these with begonias that match the coleus. For instance, ‘Nonstop Deep Rose’ begonias look great with Wizard ‘Rose’ coleus. Or Ontop ‘Sunset Shades’ begonias look like tropical punch when paired with mixed coleus.

Rose Topiary Diamond Frost and Bacopa

Bright composition of suttera diffusa bacopa and pelargonium in a decorative pot on the porch. Вacopa has delicate small snow-white simple flowers with a yellow center. Pelargoniums bloom with bright pink flowers, collected in large round inflorescences. This decorative flower pot is made of wood and has the inscription "Home" on the front side, as well as a fabric lace decoration on the top of the pot. The background is blurry.
Experiment by combining flowering topiary with bacopa.

This container arrangement is like a fairytale. Light, airy, and floral. Pick up a rose topiary from your local nursery. I love a classic red rose, but pink, yellow, white whatever you like, will work.

Plant it in the center of a container. Then plant diamond frost euphoria all around the base. Then add fluffy white bacopa to trail out the sides. The dark red rose with pure white around it looks romantic and whimsical.

Switch it up: Any flowering topiary can work for this design. Hibiscus, gardenia, azalea, etc.

I love the diamond frost because of how light and airy it is, but if you can’t find it, allysum will work too. White calibrachoa or supertunias will look great in place of Bacopa.

Or, try the reverse. Use a white rose and then plant red geraniums and Amore ‘Queen of Hearts’ petunias underneath.

*Pro Tip: Make sure to deadhead the roses and fertilize them often to get lots of blooms throughout the season. They respond best to having a little TLC, and their blooms will reward you for it.

Willow Branches, Pansies, Daffodils, and Ornamental Kale

Spring flower pot with narcissus, viola and willow branches. Blooming daffodils have bright yellow flowers and green foliage. Viola has blue petals that fade to white and deep purple towards the center. Willow branches have fluffy gray clumps attached to the branch. The flower arrangement is in a hanging light pot attached to the window. The background is blurry.
This spring arrangement of willow branches, flowering daffodils, and pansies will be a favorite in your container garden.

I like to do seasonal pots, this design is perfect for spring. You can purchase willow branches from most local florists, or you can clip your own. Place the branches in the center of your pot. I like to arrange them so they fan outwards in a vase shape.

Then place already-blooming or about-to-bloom daffodils in the center of the pot. You can purchase forced daffodil plants from florists as well. The willow branches hold them up well. When they finish blooming, their grass-like foliage looks good in between the willow branches. Then I place ornamental kale in the front

Finally, fill the gaps with your favorite color pansies. To give it an even more spring vibe, add moss to cover any visible soil (available for purchase at craft stores, garden centers, and florists).

Switch it up: This is an easy design formula to create a fall planter. Use curly willow branches, ornamental kale, heather, and mums to create a warm fall design.

*Pro Tip: Once I am ready to plant my summer container, I take all the spring flowers and plant them in the ground. Plant the daffodils in the ground so they will come back in your garden next year. I cut them back a bit so they don’t look so messy and floppy. Put the ornamental kale in the garden as well.

Prince Tut Grass, Begonias, and Jade Frost Lamium

Begonias and Jade Frost Lamium grow in a pot of flowering plants placed in front of a brick wall. Begonias have orange flowers and purple foliage. Jade Frost Lamium has variegated white-green foliage that hangs from slender twigs. Prince Tut grass grows tall in the background as the thriller piece
Try pairing gorgeous blooming begonias with Jade Frost Lamium to make it spill out the front.

Tut grasses are a really fun thriller plant to use in containers. This particular design is great for a seasonal container. If you live somewhere where there is no frost, this might not be a good long-term container choice. The watering needs of these plants are different. But they work together in harmony over a summer.

Tut grasses come in a variety of sizes, from baby to king. But I really like prince tut. It’s large and has a presence, but it isn’t as tall and floppy as king tut. Prince tut grows between 2-3′ in height with sturdy stalks that end in large plumes of airy foliage.

At the base of this design, I surround it with begonias. Reiger or tuberous begonias work best. Choose whatever color you like. Then plant jade frost lamium to spill out the front. This planter comes together fast. Feel free to add a touch of lobelia for another flower color and texture in the pot.

Switch it up: This one is so simple, it can be substituted with almost any type of flowering begonia. Impatiens would work as well. Any shade trailing vine will work too. Senecio ivy, English ivy, or even pothos will work as trailers.

*Pro Tip: Prince tut requires a lot of water, the begonias and lamium on the other hand only require moderate, evenly moist soil. When watering this combination I usually water straight into the center of the grass to ensure it gets lots of water.

Purple Fountain Grass, Calibrachoa, Osteospermum, and Dichondra

Cascading Purple Calibrachoa and Purple Fountain Grass grow in a container in a sunny garden. Calibracha has many small purple flowers with a white throat and thin bright green foliage. Purple Fountain Grass is planted above Calibrachoa and has purple leaves fading to green at the base of the plant. Blurred background with blooming containers in the garden.
Create this gorgeous arrangement of purple fountain grass and purple calibrachoa.

This container arrangement gives warm fall vibes. It thrives in full sun and is the perfect combination of flowers and foliage, textures, and colors. Place the purple fountain grass in the back center of a pot. Then off to one side plant the osteospermum.

On the other side plant the calibrachoa so it spills downwards. At the front edge if the container plant dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ spills downwards. The calibrachoa will spill into the dichondra and it will be floral and vine harmony.

I didn’t mention colors for the osteospermum or calibrachoa. This is where I will leave it to you to play with. Try ‘Zion Purple Sun’ osteospermum which has a magenta purple center that turns to orange petals with ‘Million Bells Trailing Magenta’ calibrachoa. The solid color calibrachoa will pull the center color from the osteospermum and look really sharp.

Switch it up: This is what I would call a formula planting. All it needs is a tall grass, an upright flowering annual, a low-growing flowering annual, and a trailing plant. Fill in the blanks with whatever combination you like. Try ‘First Knight’ Pennisetum with ‘Snapshot Coral Bicolor snapdragons, ‘Ladybird Lemonade’ calylophus, and lotus vine.

*Pro Tip: Make sure whatever your combination of flowers you choose is, they all have the same sun requirements. Planting flowers that take partial sun won’t be a good mix with plants that prefer to sit in full sun.

Dusty Miller, Geraniums, and Sedge Grass

Top view of silvery dusty miller plant. The flower of the Cineraria grows in a container on a sunny summer day alongside geraniums with rounded green leaves and bright red blooms. The container is a ceramic pot and it is situated alongside a wall
The silvery, velvety leaves of dusty miller make colorful flowers really pop.

The large soft fuzzy white foliage of dusty miller is lovely. They have been appearing more and more often in garden centers in my area and I have fallen in love. They work great paired with geraniums, I love bold red ones.

This combination works great in smaller planters, like an urn-shaped container. I place the dusty miller in the back, then layer three geraniums in front off to one side. Then I take a sedge grass (I like rosy sedge) and tilt it slightly down so it can spill out the side.

Switch it up: This container arrangement is a great combination of textures and colors. The only switch-up I would offer is you could use a flower other than geraniums. Make sure it is upright and smaller than the dusty miller. Petunias or marigolds would work. I prefer seeing one bold solid color, rather than multi-cored flowers alongside the velvety silver leaves of dusty miller.

*Pro Tip: It’s always fun to play with textures and colors. Experiment with plants that have similar growing conditions, and replace plants that you’ve decided you don’t like.

Mandevilla and Petunias

Several trumpet shaped flowers, some are dark purple, light purple, and bright pink, with yelow centers surrounding a tall trellis with flowering vines climbing up it. The flowers from these vines are trumpet shapes with five red petals. A stone courtyard with other purple trumpet shaped flowers are in the background.
Mandevilla climbing up a trellis in the center of a container makes for a show-stopping thriller piece.

This is a simple but effective little combination. Get a trellis or an obelisk for the center of your container. Then plant mandevilla in the middle of the pot. It will grow and twine around the obelisk.

Next plant a variety of petunias underneath. I would pair a regular petunia like ‘Daddy Blue’ with a trailing variety like Easy Wave ‘Red Velour’.

This combination loves full sun and lots of water. The petunias will require regular deadheading to keep them blooming throughout the season. Play with the colors of the mandevilla and petunias, whatever you like and have available to you.

Switch it up: The mandevilla can easily be swapped out for firecracker vine, black eyed Susan vine, or cup and saucer vine. Also, the petunias can be calibrachoa, verbena, or any other flowering full sun annual you like.

*Pro Tip: Mandevilla and petunias need to be watered often especially since they are in full sun. Plant this combination in a large planter and water it deeply. Smaller containers will dry out too fast.

Dracaena, Lobelia, Geraniums, Potato Vine, and Lotus Flower Vine

Two arrangements next to each other against a bright blue clear sky. Each arrangement has tall blades of grass-like greenery in the back, small red flowers, bright green foliage that cascades downward toward the border of small star shaped purple flowers. Surrounding each arrangement is dusty green foliage that grows on vines and is a bristley texture.
This arrangement combination calls for many different colors and textures that can grab the attention of anyone.

I love combinations that play with flowers, foliage, and textures. This one has it all! Start with a spiky dracaena in the center towards the back. Next layer in some Geraniums such as ‘Galaxy Red’ in close to the dracaena.

 In the front center underneath the geraniums add in the sweet potato vine. For this pot the sweet potato vine will be acting as more of a filler than a spiller plant. Then add a border of blue or purple lobelia. Finish off with the feathery fine texture of silvery lotus flower vine as the trailer. 

This is a full sun combination that requires frequent even watering. It looks great as a window box design but also works in a round or square pot.

Switch it up: Try adding purple sweet potato vine with alyssum instead of lobelia for a reverse color combo. I would use a pink geranium like ‘Galaxy Watermelon’ to finish the look off.

*Pro Tip: This design contains a lot of plants competing for attention. Trim things up so they stay in their place and don’t choke each other out.

Lavender, Geraniums, and Licorice Vine

Three plastic containers that are the color of clay sitting on top of tree stumps. Each container has three different plants. The lavender is short, and tipped with tiny purple flowers at the top of their stems. The foliage is dusty green and thin. The next plants are bright pink geraniums with round green leaves. The last plant is licorice vine, which is a silvery green vining plant that has small leaves. More foliage in different shades of green grow in the background.
Apart from the lovely colors of this combination, all of these plants have similar water needs so they grow well together.

If you want a low-maintenance water-wise combination, this little trio is a great choice. Lavender has silvery grassy foliage with purple flowers and that unmistakable scent when you touch it. Pair it with bold pink or red geraniums and then add a silver-colored licorice vine to trail out. This is a perfect combo of foliage and flower.

What I like about this combo is how low maintenance it is. All the plants are drought-tolerant and heat-resistant. Plant in full sun. Water when it dries out.

Switch it up: If you want more height and drama in your container, try adding a lavender topiary. I see them everywhere in the summer wherever bedding plants are being sold. They come on a single woody stem. Plant the geraniums and licorice vine underneath.

*Pro Tip: Geraniums do require a bit of maintenance to keep them blooming. Make sure to deadhead any spent blossoms. Snip or snap the flower off at the stem. This will force the geranium to produce plenty more blooms.

Pansies and Coral Bells

Large stone container with several colorful plants growing from it. Some of the flowers are yellow with splashes of purple and some are dark purple with small yellow centers. There are two colorful plants: one of the plants has light pink leaves with yellow edges with a jagged texture and dark red veins and the other has deep reddish purple foliage. The wall of a building, a stone walkway, and other green plants are growing in the background.
The plants in this combination can be easily found at most garden centers.

This combination is a sweet and simple woodland combination. Just layer in a variety of coral bells and some pansies. There are so many varieties of coral bells to choose from and equally as many pansy varieties to match. This combination likes a part shade location and evenly moist soil.

The best way to find combinations of the two plants is to go to your local garden center and find some coral bells and then add pansies and mix and match to find combinations that pop.

Try ‘Peppermint Spice’ heuchera paired with Matrix ‘Raspberry Sundae’ mix pansies. Or go dark with a Primo ‘Black Pearl’ heuchera and brighten it up with Sorbet XP ‘Blueberry Frost’ pansies. 

Switch it up: Add some drama to this container arrangement by adding a large leaf tropical into the center. Bird of paradise, banana, or an elephant ear alocasia would all look great.

*Pro Tip: This plant combination is especially great in spring or fall/winter, but it may not be able to withstand the full summer heat. You can use this as a seasonal container then take it apart and add something new for summer. Plant the coral bells into your garden, they are perennial in zones 4-9.

Snowland Daisy, Lobelia, Creeping Zinnia Ivy Geraniums, and Fuschia

Concrete container with several colorful flowers growing from it. Flowers to the right are spilling out of the container and are pink and trumpet shaped with dark centers. Small daisy-like flowers that are yellow with yellow centers are growing next to it. Small purple flowers with dark foliage grow to the left of the container. There are also reddish-orange flowers sprinkled in. Tall daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centers growing on top of long stems in the back. A wall and a stone courtyard are in the background with green feather-like ferns growing along the wall and more green foliage in the dark background to the left.
If you are looking for a bright and colorful springtime arrangement, this one has plenty of options for you.

If flowers are your thing, then this is a combination for you. While I do like playing with foliage textures and colors, I do a lot of flower combinations. The trick is to choose flowers that fit different roles in the container and to choose flowers with different textures and colors.

In this container creation, Snowland daisies are the upright flower. Next, add some lobelia and creeping zinnia. These two flowers will collide and meld together as the filler flower.

Feel free to tuck in some ivy geraniums, such as ‘Blizzard Red’. While not completely necessary, it does add a big bold flower which is a nice contrast to the flurry of small flowers.

Then to finish it off, tuck in fuschias and petunias as trailers. Tuck the fuschias in to the side that receives less sun. The combination of the two spilling out the sides looks great.

Switch it up: This is a really loose design. Play with it and make it fit your taste. Butterfly daisies, diamond frost, calibrachoa, verbena, and many more flowers will work. Go to the garden center and see what you can find. Just remember to choose a variety of flowers. Choose some that are upright, some that creep, and some that trail.

*Pro Tip: Flowers in containers are beautiful, but they do take a bit more work. They will need to be deadheaded to keep the flowers looking fresh. Also, they will need to be fertilized every two weeks. Flowers are heavy feeders.

Dahlia, Salvia, and Ivy Geranium

Large square granite stone container with several flowers growing in it. The tallest flowers have very dark purple foliage and tall stems with soft pink flowers with dark centers growing at the top. There are also tall plants with linear growing purple flowers growing among pointed green foliage. Closer to the base of the container are cheerful pink flowers with five petals each. There are a few buildings and stone walkways in the background. The day is sunny and bright.
This floral arrangement adds height, drama, and color to any space.

This planter is simple but bold. It has everything. Dramatic foliage, different textures, and lots of flowers. Start by planting a red leaf dahlia such as ‘Giselle’ in the center of your planter.

Then plant an annual salvia such as ‘Victoria Blue’ underneath it. Finish it off with an ivy geranium such as ‘Mini Cascade Pink’ to trail out.

This is a sun-loving combination with medium water requirements. It will require a large container since all the plants get fairly large.

Switch it up: I think sunflowers in the center instead of dahlia would look great. Try a dwarf variety such as ‘Sundance Kid’ that only grows to 2′ high. I would pair this with ‘Red Hot Sally’ salvia and ‘Blizzard Red’ ivy geraniums.

*Pro Tip: You might need to cage or stake the dahlia to keep them upright. I like half-moon hoops to gently prop them up and keep them in the center.

Fern, Pansies, and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’

Close up of concrete urn with several plants growing in it. The thriller piece is long feather-like green foliage. Several purple flowers with rounded petals and small yellow centers are sprinkled throughout. To the left, there are some small yellow flowers cascading downward. Silvery green round leaves growing on thin vines also fall out of the urn elegantly. More greenery and a dark blue wall are in the background.
A stunning combination of ferns, pansies, and dochondria make for a lovely container arrangement,

This sweet combination is made for shade. Grab a fern, I like the look of a big full Boston fern, but just about any fern will do. Ponytail fern, ostrich fern, maidenhair fern, whatever you like and can find will work. Then place pansies underneath.

I wouldn’t get too caught up in the variety, a mixture looks great. Then add dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ to spill out. The silver foliage looks great against the green fern.

Switch it up: For a more formal look try swapping out the pansies for begonias. The big rosettes of tuberous begonia blooms would look rich and elegant tucked in under a fern.

*Pro Tip: Ferns like water and humidity. They will turn brown if they dry out. This looks works best in a nice shady area, maybe under a covered porch.

Pineapple Lily and Diascia

Close up of long tropical glossy leaves  with tall green flowers growing in a spire grow upward from a large stone container and are surrounded by medium height plants that are growing small pink flowers with dark pink centers. In the background there is a brick wall. The day is sunny and bright.
If you are looking for a simple yet impactful combination, this one may be right for you.

This design is so simple, with only two plants, but it has a lot of impact. I think this because the two plants are not super common. Start with a big pineapple lily in the center. Then add Diascia all around. Boom, you’re done.

This combination looks best in a full-sun location. It looks dramatic and tropical.

Switch it up: Don’t get too caught up on the diascia if you can’t find it. Verbena, bacopa, or wave petunias would be a great substitute.

*Pro Tip: Pineapple lilies do not like soggy soil. Make sure your container has adequate drainage and you are using light fluffy potting soil.

The Edible Arrangement 

Close up of several red round plastic containers with herbs growing in them. The center container has leafy greens, a plant with hardy stems with thin long leaves, and another plant with thin flexible stems with short pale green leaves. The other containers also contain some of the same plants, but there are also dark leafy lettuce plants growing. The day is sunny.
Combine several herbs and/or vegetables in a single container for an abundance of textures, smells, and colors.

If you are short on space and keep going back and forth between a decorative pot or a veggie pot, why not do both? Vegetables and herbs can be beautiful when combined. First you will want to determine if you want to do a shade combo or a sun combo. 

In shade opt for leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale. Dinosaur kale has big textured leaves and looks great in the center of a pot. So do the brightly colored stems of rainbow chard.

Use ‘Freckles’ lettuce for a pretty pop of speckled leaves that are delicious finish this combination off with chocolate mint trailing out. Putting mint in a container is a great way to prevent it from spreading. 

In the sun, use herbs and plants that produce fruits. Like an ‘Indigo Sun’ cherry tomato in the center, some basil all around, and thyme spilling put. Or you could do lavender or rosemary with curly parsley and sage.

Grow what you like to eat and think of colors and textures of the foliage when you are preparing an edible arrangement.

Switch it up: Remember edible flowers. Pansies are cute little shade flowers that look great on cupcakes and in salads. Nasturtium is a deliciously spicy trailing plant with bright red and yellow flowers. Or even chives have delicious purple flowers that are great with eggs or potatoes.

*Pro Tip: Make sure you choose plants that like the same sun exposure in your containers. Lettuce will bolt in full sun and tomatoes won’t make fruit in the shade so they aren’t a great pairing.

Mandevilla, Calibrachoa, Geranium, Bacopa, Potato Vine, and Sedum

Large bowl-shaped garden sitting near steps in front of a house with lots of trees growing on a sunny day. The garden contains many different kinds of plants and flowers. The thriller piece is tall with long stems and alternating green leaves growing along the stems. Pink flowers bloom throughout the bed in different shades. Vining foliage with small white flowers cascade out of the garden. Lime green heart shaped leaves grow into different sections also cascade out.
Colorful trailing plants really add impact to this container arrangement.

I like this bold red and pink combination. It is bright, beautiful, and comes together fairly easily. Start with a Mandevilla in the center of your pot, you might need a trellis or obelisk for it to climb. Next, add some geraniums around the Mandevilla as the filler plants.

What makes this planter so eye-catching is all the things that trail. Layer in some lime green sweet potato vine, bacopa, calibrachoa, and trailing sedums to create a fountain of colors and textures.

This combination needs full sun and lots of water. I would opt for a larger container to fit all these plants into it and to create impact.

Switch it up: This design can be switched up in many ways. Go to the garden center and play around with trailing plants. Creeping Jenny, Angelina sedum, torrenia, verbena, wave petunias, and more can be easily substituted. The center plant can also be switched out. It could be a dracaena, dahlia, or even a small cedar.

*Pro Tip: With this combination, you can start small and let it grow in. This is a great way to save money. Since all the flowers are fairly fast growing, you will have a full beautiful container in no time.

Coral Bells and Lupine

Close up of large clay pots with a few plants growing in them. Medium height spires of pink flowers with fan-shaped green leaves take the thriller spot and ruffled circular dark purple leaves are planted in sections. The other large clay pot with the same plants is behind the front one. A brick wall and brick floor are in the background.
This lovely combination requires a little more deadheading maintenance than some others.

This little combination is so simple and yet the juxtaposition of the foliage and flowers is really striking. This combination prefers part shade conditions and evenly moist, but never wet, soil.

For this combination, it is best to choose a dwarf variety of lupine such as one for the ‘Gallery’ series. I love ‘Galler Pink’ lupines. Plant them in the center of the pot. Next pick a coral bell such as Dolce ‘Wildberry’. Plant this around the perimeter of the pot. I would use an odd number of coral bells, three, five, or seven.

Switch it up: There are so many varieties of lupins and coral bells. Try a ‘Georgia Peach’ coral bell, which is a lovely copper color, with a ‘Popsicle Yellow’ lupin.

*Pro Tip: Make sure to deadhead lupines quickly so that more new flowers will grow. Cut it right back to the stem. I would do this when the flower is about two thirds to three quarters finished blooming. Don’t wait until it is entirely seed pods.

Mixed Succulents

Close up of several desert plants including sedum and succulents. The center plant has thick rounded gray-green leaves in the shape of a rosette. To the right are three orange daisy like flowers blooming from thick long waxy leaves. Several other plants with very thick leaves are growing around these plants.
Plants this arrangement if you have a sunny spot available in your yard.

My front door was a full south exposure. I found keeping up with watering my front containers a full-time job. They were always dry and they would fizzle out quickly. A great solution to this is planting a container full of sun-loving succulents.

Head to your garden center and see what they have. You can usually find echeverias, burro tail, bunny ear cactus, aloe vera, crassulas, and more.

When choosing your succulents consider the color, shapes, sizes, and textures just like you would a flower container. Also, think of the thriller, filler, spiller concept. Use an Aloe vera plant in the center as the spiky thriller.

Then tuck in a variety of echeverias as the filler. Finally, finish it off with ‘Baby Necklace’ crassula trailing out. I find with succulents in pots, the more types of succulents you add, the better it looks.

Make sure your succulents are planted in loose sandy soil, I recommend a cactus blend. Also, make sure they are in full sun and the pots have lots of drainage.

Switch it up: Cactus and succulents lend themselves perfectly to ‘funky junk’ containers. If you have a head planter you always wanted to try or an old boot, or even a teacup. These things lend themselves perfectly to filling with succulents since they don’t require much soil, nutrients or water. If they don’t have drainage, make sure you keep them out of an area that gets rain.

*Pro Tip: A lot of succulents are slower growing. I recommend really packing in the succulents right from the beginning. Or consider adding decorative rocks in between your succulents.

Coleus, New Guinea Impatiens, and Ivy

Terra-cotta pot with three different plants growing in it. The one planted farthest in the back is the tallest. It has heart shaped velvety leaves that are dark purple with lime green margins. A few spikes of light purple and green flowers spring from it. The next plant has ovoid dark green leaves with soft flowers with white rounded petals. Star shaped foliage that is dark green with yellow edges growing along a vine spill out of the pot. There is thin blades of grass growing around the pot in the background.
Coleus is a dramatic plant that works well as a thriller piece in a container.

If you want an easy-peasy three-plant design that looks thought out and elegant, this is the design for you. The wonderful thing about this simple planter is that it can take sun-shade. It likes being evenly moist, but not over-watered. 

Start with a ‘Chocolate Mint’ coleus in the back at the center. Then add ‘Infinity White’ impatiens in front. Then add variegated English ivy out the front. 

Switch it up: Don’t get too caught up on the color combination. If you can’t find a dark coleus, opt for a pink variety, like ‘Chocolate Covered Cherry’. You can then play with the color of new guinea impatiens. White would still look great, but a pink variety would shine as well.

*Pro Tip: For bushier coleus keel pinching it back. Two new shoots will come from every cut you make.

‘Lanai White’ Verbena, ‘Blackcurrant Punch’ Calibrachoa, and Superbells ‘Lemon Slice’ Calibrachoa 

Small hanging basket made of coconut core and wire with three flowering plants growing in it. One of the plants has trumpet shaped bright pink flowers with very dark centers that spill out of the basket. The other plant has small white flowers growing in clusters that also grow from the basket. The third plant has trumpet shaped yellow flowers that are sprinkled throughout. There is green foliage filing out the basket. The basket sits on a wooden table. The background is blurred with some pink and white flowers to the left.
This floral combination can be switched up in many ways, adding uniqueness and variety.

I picture this arrangement in the center of an outdoor table. It’s low-growing and has plenty of textures and colors. Simply mix ‘Black Currant Punch’ calibrachoa, Superbells ‘Lemon Slice’ calibrachoa, and ‘Lanai White’ verbena. This is a perfect sun combination. Use a fluffy potting mix so it can hold onto moisture.

Switch it up: This one is easy to switch up. Pick whatever variety of verbena and calibrachoa you like. Just keep the flower size and colors in mind when choosing. Choose plants that contrast but do not clash. I like keeping it to three flowers so it’s not too busy.

*Pro Tip: Place your pot on a tray and then water the tray so the plants can soak it up from the bottom. This is a lot less messy for a table arrangement than overhead spraying.

Final Thoughts

Use these container arrangement combinations as a guide to create beautiful seasonal planters. Feel free to substitute and mix and match plants to suit your tastes and what is available in your area. Just make sure to consider sun exposure and the growth habits of the plants you choose. Have fun and get creative!

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