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Ideas: How to Build a Container Flower Garden

Updated on June 20, 2013
How to build a a beautiful grouping of annuals and perennials in a container garden.
How to build a a beautiful grouping of annuals and perennials in a container garden. | Source

There is nothing more lovely than a container garden of flowers and plants to bring life and color to an area of your yard, porch or patio. The more creative you get with your flower placement, the more fun you will find mixing different textures, colors and sizes. When building a container garden, it's as important to research your flowers as it is to have fun! Container gardens lift the spirits, give those empty spaces light and color and can also provide soothing aromas for the senses.

When building your container garden, there are a few things to take into consideration.

What purpose is your container garden for? Year long or seasonal?

First of all, decide what purpose you want your container garden to serve. Is this just a seasonal grouping of flowers that you want or something that you want to have remain the same all year round?

The reason you want to decide this is because the purpose will decide what plants you should consider using in it. I personally like to do a mixture of both seasonal and year-round arrangements then scatter them throughout different areas of my patio. Since I like to putter around with my containers, I usually prefer to mix some annuals in that may require deadheading (something I don't mind doing) Deadheading spent blossoms on plants encourages growth and will make the plant fuller and healthier.

A beautiful perennial that would be gorgeous in a container grouping.
A beautiful perennial that would be gorgeous in a container grouping. | Source
Have fun playing with colors in your container gardens.
Have fun playing with colors in your container gardens. | Source
Impatiens are one of my favorite annuals for containers. Incredibly, this grouping was pruned back several times to re-emerge strong and vibrant. They would still be around if my puppy hadn't got to them!
Impatiens are one of my favorite annuals for containers. Incredibly, this grouping was pruned back several times to re-emerge strong and vibrant. They would still be around if my puppy hadn't got to them! | Source

Annuals and Perrenials used in container gardening

So once you have decided what purpose you have in mind for your container garden, think about what flowers you are going to use in them. Flowers and plants can basically be divided into the following groups:

  • Annuals: Botanically speaking, annual plants complete their life cycle in one year. These are the types of plants that you can find in your nurseries and garden stores for often very reasonable prices. Often they come in 4 or 6 packs, and can sometimes combine different colors of the same type. Some of my favorite annuals to use are Impatiens (bright and colorful fun flowers), Marigolds (used a lot in fall container gardens), Coleus (stunning plants in a wide variety of leaf patterns and color), flowering Kale, Gerbera Daisy, Allysum (love love love this multi-use trailing plant), Pansies, Violas and Petunias (the trailing type are just spectacular) A note of interest here: When I first started gardening and did not know the difference between the "types" of plants and flowers, I "lost" many plants in my garden which made me think I think I didn't have a very green thumb. As it turns out, I was planting a lot of annuals that were supposed to die and I had no idea that they were meant to be only "temporary" flowers!
  • Perennials: These are plants and flowers that generally live many years and "come back" season after season. Some perennials last all year round, depending on where you live. If building a container garden that you want to remain all year long, you will want to use perennials as your anchor plant. Perennials that I love are the Cannas (a lovely plant with many different varieties and colors), Daisies (Daisies are perennials but there are also some varieties that are considered annuals), Coneflowers (aka Echinacea) and Hostas (there are many beautiful varieties of this lovely leafed plant)
  • Tubers (Dahlias are a good example of tubers, these can be used in containers and come in incredible colors, shapes and sizes)
  • Bulbs (Bulbs like Daffodils can be stunning mixed in with a perennial and annual container)
  • Corms (Gladiolas and crocus can be mixed in containers too but "Glads" are normally planted along walkways and against fences)
  • Trees and Shrubs (these can be used in container gardens, most will need periodic pruning)

Source
Vegetables I planted in an old bathtub. Bath tubs makes great containers for plants and flowers - just make sure you have adequate drainage.
Vegetables I planted in an old bathtub. Bath tubs makes great containers for plants and flowers - just make sure you have adequate drainage. | Source
An old bathroom wall hanger that I re-purposed into a container for petunias.
An old bathroom wall hanger that I re-purposed into a container for petunias. | Source
A kids toy wagon that I re-purposed into a container for succulents.
A kids toy wagon that I re-purposed into a container for succulents. | Source
Lovely container groupings on a porch.
Lovely container groupings on a porch. | Source

Ideas for containers in gardens

There are many things you can build your container garden in: buckets, pots, an old toolbox, a pair of old boots (this is sooo cute!), a wheelbarrow or in the classic "window-box". When choosing a container, you can be fun and funky or elegant and classical. The choice is entirely up to you!

So now that you have picked your container, your plants and your soil - now what?

Selecting flowers and plants for a container garden

So once you have decided on the purpose of your container garden, it's time to select your flowers. You will want to do a little research into the flower or plant and find out how tall and wide your plants will become. When buying your plants they should have a tag on them telling you how tall they will get and what type of sunlight they need. If you make a mistake and plant some too close together, no worry because you can always adjust later by pinching back, moving or even taking a plant out that gets too big in it's container, The main thing is to have fun with it and pick some colors and textures that you like. Because I am an artist, I always consider building my container garden as an "art piece", and I play around with textures, colors and groupings to see what artistic "surprises" I may come up with!

Placing your taller plants to the middle or back of the container with lower plants around it usually works well. You will want to have your trailing plants like Ivy and Allysum closer to the edge of your container so they have a place to trail down the sides.

After you have an idea of the sizes your plants are going to be, it's time to build your container garden.

How to plant your container garden

I like to play around with the groupings of my plants, so I fill my container about a 1/2 to 3/4 full with my soil, then I take my plants out and arrange them in the container. When I am satisfied with how the grouping looks, I either add or subtract some soil from the spot where they are going, then add my dirt around the spaces left. I also gently pat the soil to anchor my plants in place and try to keep my soil from being too close to the top of the container (1"- 2" from the top) After I am done I water the container well then add soil to any spots that may have sunk down or need to be built up. Once again, imagine this is your art piece, you can change things around and add or subtract if you are not satisfied with the final result. Place your container in your designated spot and make sure the sunlight (or shade) is correct for your plants.

Next, enjoy!

Perennials and annuals in a container grouping.
Perennials and annuals in a container grouping. | Source
This lovely flower would make a beautiful centerpiece in any container garden.
This lovely flower would make a beautiful centerpiece in any container garden. | Source

Comments

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  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thank you Glass Visage and Liz, container gardens are just so much fun to make , and if you mess up, just change the plants around and no harm done. The creative process is just wonderful, isn't it?

  • Liz-reviews profile image

    Eunice Elizabeth 

    5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

    Wow Dorsi Thanks for the very interesting Hub! You have some great design ideas with your planters. Love all your pictures, I love being able to see what people are describing.

    Voted up

  • glassvisage profile image

    glassvisage 

    5 years ago from Northern California

    This is great information! I have considered this but am not familiar with what kinds of flowers and plants are best, so this is very helpful. Thanks for sharing this. All of the photos are great!

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