How to Plant Stacked Containers
Bet you won't make just one!
Stacked containers are an easy, space-saving and cost-efficient method for creating gorgeous mixed flower pots perfect for small patios, balconies, kitchens and entryways.
Stacking gives your old containers a whole new look. And stacked containers can be less expensive and lighter weight than conventional planters, requiring fewer plants and less potting soil —if you make them the way I do.
Why not make a stacked pot container garden for your home?
Let's get started!
A wheelbarrow of fun.
Here's what you'll need to make a stacked pot.
2-3 pots in ascending sizes, each with drainage holes*
2-3 clean plastic nursery pots to fit inside them
Assorted plants, including 1 tall thriller, 3 bushy fillers and 3 or more trailing spillers
*Plastic or ceramic containers, which retain water best, work well for full-sun annuals. For plants that need well-drained soil, such as herbs, try clay pots.
Warning: This is going to be messy.
THE FIRST TIER
Make a sturdy base.
Place an upside down plastic nursery pot in the largest container, pour potting soil around it and moisten the soil. The plastic pot should feel sturdy in the pot and rest level.
That's it! You're ready to build the next level of your stacked container.
THE SECOND TIER
Are your hands dirty yet?
Next, place the second largest pot on the upturned nursery pot. Make sure it's stable and that the drainage holes line up. Then put an upside down plastic pot inside pot #2. Pour potting soil around it and add a bit of water.
A COMPLETED TWO-TIERED STACKED CONTAINER GARDEN
At one & three weeks old.
When making stacked pots, you can buy matching containers of various sizes or just use what you have.
Over time, inner pots like the navy blue one pictured right become obscured by plants.
Created for a sunny corner, this budget-friendly two-tiered stacked pot contains just six plants: a Martha Washington geranium thriller, Dusty Miller fillers and snowdrop spillers.
To keep costs down, plants are located on the front side only, and the thriller is planted against the back of the top pot.
THE (OPTIONAL) THIRD TIER
Do you like the look of stacked containers?
One more time with feeling.
If you want to make a three-stack pot, place a small pot on top of the second planter's inner plastic pot. Again, make sure it's stable and that the drainage holes are aligned.
Finally, place an upside down plastic pot inside the third tier, pour potting mix around it and add water.
Whew! Now all of the tiers are in place, you're ready to plant!
A 3-Tier Stacked Pot Instructional Video: White Garden
I like fillers (bushy plants) and spillers (trailing plants) in the first tier and second tier of a three-tier stacked container, reserving the thriller (the tall, striking plant) for the top pot.
Thrillers, spiller & fillers
Begin adding plants to the first layer first, and don't be afraid to manhandle the roots a bit. You're going to have to in order to cram—er, plant them in the bottom planter. You'll have to add more soil too.
After planting the bottom pot, you'll probably have to adjust the pot at the second level. (Things tend to shift a bit as you're "cramming.") Keep going, cramming in plants, adding more soil and adjusting the pots, until you've used all of your plants.
Be sure to leave a small unplanted area in the top pot to serve as a watering spot, allowing you to water your entire stacked container from the top.
The completed stacked pot pictured right is for full sun and contains two kinds of spillers: Verbena 'Homestead Purple' and Stonecrop 'Blue Spruce.'
Verbena is a fast grower that's often used as a ground cover in rock gardens. Stonecrop is a silvery creeper that's drought tolerant.
The filler is evening primrose, Oenothera siskiyou 'Pink.' It's another fast grower. And according to the University of Kentucky's Horticultural Department and a lady who saw it in my shopping cart at Wal-Mart, it can be quite invasive if placed in a bed without a collar around it (and perhaps a leash).
For the thriller, the tallest plant in the container, I chose the container gardener's old standby, Dracaena.
You, of course, may choose whatever plants you like. Just make sure that they share the same light and water requirements so that everybody in the pot grows together happily throughout the season.
Links to More Flower Pot Projects on HP
- Making Beautiful Mosaic Flower Pots
I love this project and have really been happy with the results! Warning: While it is time consuming, a bit dirty, and hard work, it’s fun and you will learn to create beautiful one-of-a kind pots.
- From Flower Pots to Styrofoam Balls, 5 Fun, Easy and...
Holidays are a great time for kids to get crafty. But what should you make? And what if you're short on cash, or your little one doesn't have a long attention span? No worries! The following crafts are not expensive or difficult - plus they're fun!
FLOWER POT FRIENDS
Companions for toads, garden gnomes, small children & gardeners
Hang them from a tree. Set them on a log, bench, fence or step. Or, prop them next to container gardens. They're even cute in flower beds. And they age well, too, developing the charming patina for which clay pots are known.
About the Author
The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.
She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.
Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.
© 2013 Jill Spencer