Plant Choices Suitable for an Effective Container Garden

Container gardens can be just as dramatic and impressive as standard gardens. Expand the limits of your containers by including annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, succulents, vines, tropicals and bulbs.

Plant Choices Suitable for an Effective Container Garden

A container garden is the perfect answer to those who want to enjoy the beauty of gardening, but are not blessed with an expanse of space. A container garden can transform a small patio or terrace or it can serve as a nifty little addition to an existing backyard garden area. Just because you are dealing with plants that live inside a container doesn't mean that you have to avoid growing the most popular types of plants.


Annuals are flowers that bloom from spring to the first frost of fall and are ideal for container gardens that can benefit from the spice of life that is variations in color. Annuals only get to spread their beauty in this mortal realm for one growing season and then they are gone forever. This short life span makes annuals absolutely ideal for experimentation with wickedly creative designs and combinations of color and texture.


Perennials differ from annuals by having the ability to live for years. You can keep perennials alive for extended periods of time even when confined inside a container. The blooming period of perennials is significantly shorter than that of annuals so plan ahead for how you will use the presence of color and green foliage to make a statement with your container garden.

Tropical Plants

Tropical plants are not normally considered ideal for container gardens by some people because of the association of tropical plants with trees and shrubs. The trick is start growing your tropical plants in your containers and watch as they seem to intuitively know how to grow slightly smaller than their free-range counterparts. The rule of thumb is one tropical plant per container and the unwritten law of aesthetics suggests using tropical plants as accents rather than the focal point of your container garden. The brilliant colors can work to complement or contrast with your actual container garden focal plants. Choose hardier species if you want the ability to leave them outside during the fall; otherwise, bring them indoors.


Many bulbs get treated as if they were annuals when they become a part of a container garden. This means removing them from the containers come the fall or bringing them indoors during the winter. Some bulbs like lilies can take the winter cold while remaining inside the pot as long as you store the container in a covered shed or even inside the garage so that the soil does not freeze.


Vines are absolutely made for container gardens and you can arrange them so that they grow up or grown down and create intricate patterns of color and texture. Vines also come in handy for creating border perimeters for your container garden as well as providing decorative accents for outdoor living areas like patios and decks. Treat those vines that aren't hardy enough to survive cold weather as you would your annuals.


Herbs make one of the best choices for a container garden in small space when you plan on using the herbs in your cooking. Herb container gardens can thrive indoors as well as outdoors. A door leading from the kitchen to the backyard is a fantastic place to arrange as a container herb garden. Treatment of the herbs in regard to leaving them outdoors depends upon the hardiness of the plant itself. While some herbs should be treated as annuals, others should be treated like biennials.


Not all edible plants are suitable for container gardening, but enough can thrive to provide a steady diet of sweet and succulently fresh food such as you have never tasted in a life spent consuming preserved and frozen vegetables. While not a container per se, a trellis can make a decorative addition to your container garden and is an effective way to raise cucumbers and pole beans. Root vegetables need to be plant about 10 inches deep inside the container. Other vegetable candidates for a kitchen container garden include spinach, radishes, eggplants, tomatoes and lettuce. A sizable container garden consisting wholly of edible plants can provide you with a full table of nutritious goodies throughout the harvest season.


Yes, even trees and shrubs can get in on the action inside your container garden. The addition of a large container or two in which you grow selections like plum, juniper or boxwood provide a decorative addition to a garden consisting mainly of smaller sized containers and pots.


Another way to add some variety to a container garden is with the addition of shallow containers housing succulents, cacti and alpine flowers. The textural contrast of a prickly cactus with the soft rounded fruits afforded by the presence of a lemon tree can easily provide your small container garden with the dramatic presence usually reserved for a formal garden of much larger size.

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