How to design your dream container

How to design your dream container

Have you always had container envy and wondered how you can make yours look just as great if not better? Follow this quick guide to learn the basics on container design!

Thrillers: Fountain Grasses, Large Coleus, Gaura, Canna Lilies, Argyranthemum

The beginning of a great container starts with a great feature plant! Whether it is a beautiful flowing grass or the tropical vibe from a Canna lily you will want to choose the right plant for the size of your container. Adding the right sized plant to the center of your container is key to season long beauty. If your container is on the smaller size, a large grass may eventually take over your container; on the opposite side if you have a large container you want to make sure you choose a plant tall enough to create balance when you look at it.

Fillers: Hypoestes, Compact Coleus, Phlox, Geraniums, Sunpatiens, Lantana

Once you have chosen your favourite thriller plant the next step is to create what we call the fillers of a container. These are medium height plants that will help to give a nice full look to your container. These can be any plants that are shorter than your thriller plant and can either be the same plant or different depending on the look you are trying to acheive. Our personal favourite is using plants in the same series like sunpatiens but in different colours to a round container!

Spillers: Petunia, Calibrachoa, Supercal, Verbena, Bacopa, Ivy, Sweet Potato Vine

Last but not least is adding in the spillers to your container! This component will help give your container the beautiful waterfall of colour that spills from the side of your container.
Either using great foliage from ivy's or sweet potato vine or mixing in some colour using the tried and true petunia varieties will help finish off the balance of your container.

Odd Numbers

For a professional look plant your containers in odd numbers.

Want to make your containers really shine and look professionally done? Try planting your container components in odd numbers. For example our 16 inch containers have one thriller plant, three filler plants and three spiller plants! From a design standpoint odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye. If planting two containers to be viewed on either side of a garage or door, try mirroring your design to create balance when viewing.

Photo Courtesy of Proven Winners (Fountain Grass, Lantana, Cuphea and Calibrachoa)

Creating beautiful combinations can be overwhelming to those that are just starting out with plant design. The most important part is choosing the right plants for your location. Ask yourself, is my location in full sun, part sun or shade? Is it in a windy tunnel or more sheltered? What is the width and height of my container? These are some of the first questions our staff will ask you if you need help with container design.


How many plants should you plant depends on the size of your container. We always suggest that for every two inches wide that your container is you plant one container component to the lower odd number. Example: If your container is 16 inches across you would divide by two to get a maximum of eight plants for your container. We like odd numbers so we would round down to seven plants in total.


How tall should your thriller plant be? We recommend that the max height potential of your thriller plant be no taller than double the height of your container. The only exception is if your container is extremely wide and is used as a raised bed on a large patio.


Feel like keeping it simple? Monoculture containers are great for adding a pop to your patio or front entrance. A small container with your favourite colour calibrachoa on a table or a tall container with just grass to create a privacy wall can add that simple yet elegant look to your home.


Still feeling confused or lost on where to start? Feel free to contact us! Our friendly staff are always able to help you whether in store or through email to help choose that perfect combination. We suggest checking out inspiration boards on websites such as Pinterest for container recipes to help get you started!

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