Selecting Plants for Container Gardens

An outdoor room can be so much more than the furniture and rugs that grace a patio. Like any indoor room, accessories can make or break the space. Creating container gardens for the patio can be a colorful option to completing a look. It can be overwhelming with so many plants available at the nursery.  So, I asked a local horticulturist for a few tips.

Linda Worle, owner of Flowers and Other Things, a landscape and gardening service in Tarpon Springs, Florida, says “Container gardening offers a wonderful way of adding interest to a patio, entryways and pool areas.” There are many containers that can be used, from large terra-cotta pots to glazed ceramics. If a vertical garden is an option, try re-purposing a wood pallet.

Selecting plants for container gardens

Plant Compatibility

She suggests starting with plant compatibility.  For instance, water requirements, light requirements and the PH of the soil as well as drainage all play a role in selecting the right plants for a patio. You can find the find requirements of any plant on a tag included in the pot at the garden center.  As you select plants make sure they all share the same sun light needs and watering needs. Placing plants that need full sun with plants that need partial sun is asking for disaster.

tips for container gardens

Color palettes and plants

In any design project, a favorite color is a great starting point to build on. Beginning with a color palette allows for an easier visit at to the nursery, as most plants come in a wide variety of colors. Mix and match pinks, reds and yellows with a a few neutral whites to create a beautiful display.

Worle says, “Almost anything can be used in a container garden as long as its location is suitable for the plantings with proper light and watering.”  She recommends Begonias, Chinese Hat, or Cape Honeysuckle for a container gardens that offer a little height. For lower plants, she suggests day lilies, cosmos, Canna lilies and lxora.

lantana flowers

If small children or pets are in the home, it is important to select nonpoisonous plants. Worle, suggests, “Plumbago, blue flowers provide color all summer long. Lantana comes in an array of different colors including:  red, yellow, pink/yellow, white and purple… offering color in the garden year round.  The flowers will enter a short winter rest and come back in spring, as long as they have been properly cared for, i.e.,fertilized and pruned”

Following these simple tips and suggestions will let the home gardener create safe, colorful and well suited gardens.

(This post was previously published on

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