How To: Design A Floral Container Garden

By Nicole W.

Summer officially arrives on June 20th!  If you haven’t already brightened up your outdoor space with the vibrant colors of summer, then it’s about time!  One of our favorite ways to add some color to the home is by creating gorgeous patio pots or container gardens overflowing with flowers.

At Matlack Florist, we have a large variety of pre-made container gardens for you to choose from, but for the DIY-ers out there, we thought we would share a little how-to just for you!

planter tall

Step One:  Choose Your Container

When choosing a container, be sure to pick one that has adequate drainage. Drainage is extremely important to plant health. If your container does not already have drainage holes, then drill them yourself if possible.  If you prefer not to drill through your container, then you can create an area to hold excess water by laying a 2-inch layer of gravel before filling your container with potting soil.

There are many different materials available to fit your taste and needs. From terra cotta (1) to ceramic pots (2) and wooden containers (3) to wrought iron planters with coco liners (4), we carry a wide variety of options at Matlack Florist!

container collage

Step Two:  Choose Your Plants

There are many things to consider when choosing an assortment of plants to put into your container garden.

Urn Patio Pot

First things first, choose plants that will thrive in your home’s environment. For example, some plants love the sun, and others love the shade. Start with an assessment of the environment in which you are going to display your container garden. You want to consider the plants growing needs, and choose an assortment of plants with similar light, soil and water needs that fit the environment. If you are unsure about the care needs of a particular plant, simply check out the care tag that comes with most plants or just ask our staff in the Garden Center!  We’re happy to help!

Source: BloomnGardens

Secondly, you’ll want to choose the color scheme! This really comes down to your own tastes and preferences! Perhaps you prefer a monochromatic color theme, displaying flowers in the same shades of one color. When going this route, we like to choose plants with lots of different textures. Or maybe you’d rather create the excitement provided by complementary colors for your container garden. Complementary colors are found opposite each other on the color wheel (e.g.: Yellow and Violet, or Orange and Blue). The high contrast of complementary colors will create a vibrant display. Another option is to choose analogous colors, which are found near each other on the color wheel (e.g.: Violet and Blue, or Orange and Yellow). Analogous colors will blend with each other, usually invoking a soothing, serene feeling.  Really feel free to experiment with your color choices!


Thirdly, mix it up by combining plants with different shapes and textures! Be sure to think ahead to how tall and full each plant will grow. A rule of thumb in container garden design is to choose a good mix of what we call Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers! Your container should have a little bit of each (a little more about this in the next section!)  Additionally, don’t forget about foliage! While choosing to fill your container with all flowering plants can be tempting, including a touch of foliage in your container garden will create balance and a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement.

3.  Arrange Your Container Garden

A good container garden starts with good soil! Our favorite potting medium to use here at Matlack Florist is Fox Farm Ocean Forest, as it contains a great deal of nutrients and provides excellent drainage and moisture retention.

Start by placing your ‘thriller’ in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides, or in the back of your container if the arrangement will be viewed from one side.  A thriller is a tall, upright plant that creates some drama by bringing a vertical accent to your container garden. Some of our favorite thrillers are:  Tall Ornamental Grasses, Dracaena Spikes, Assorted Cyperus, Coleus, and Blue Salvia.

Next, choose two or three ‘filler’ plants, and place them in front of or around your thriller. Fillers are broad, medium-height plants that, as the name suggests, fill in the container.  Examples of some of our favorite fillers are: Begonias, Geraniums, Angelonia, Fuchsia, Double Impatiens, Dahlias, Lantana, Vinca and Gerbera Daisies.

Lastly, add two or three ‘spillers.”  Spillers are long, trailing plants that cascade over the side of your container.  Examples of some spillers are: Petunias, Calibrachoa, Sweet Potato Vine, Creeping Jenny, Lotus Vine, Vinca Vine, Trailing Coleus, Wire Vine, Lobelia, Verbena, Euphorbia and Torenia.

Now that you have the know-how, get out into the sun and have some fun with it!

3 Tier Patio Pot with Furniture