How to Plant a Container Garden

Choose a container, the right soil, a few pretty plants, and you're good to grow.

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Hot Pots


You don't need a green thumb or a big backyard to create an eye-catching display that's anything but garden-variety. "Just keep in mind three words—thriller, spiller and filler," says Colleen Maiura, Lowe's outdoor living expert. To balance proportion in a pot, combine a tall plant (thriller), a trailer that cascades over the edge of the pot (spiller) and a medium-size plant to add fullness (filler). Go for a mix of colors, textures and foliage types. Here, we've featured magenta dracaena for height, primrose for color and English ivy to spill over the rim. And remember, there's power in numbers. A few large pots grouped together in a corner or at an entry rather than a scattering of small ones make an artful impact.

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Tips for Planting a Container Garden

Container Gardening How-To: Design a Container

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Ground Rules: Step 1


Choose three types of young plants: one for height, another to trail and the third to fill out the pot.

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Ground Rules: Step 2


Select a container at least 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep. If the pot doesn't have drainage holes, it's easy to drill your own. Put newspaper, broken terra-cotta pottery shards or gravel in the bottom for drainage.

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Ground Rules: Step 3 and 4


Fill it halfway with bagged potting mix—never dirt from the garden, which is too heavy. Gently remove each plant from its plastic pot and massage compacted roots to loosen them.

Plant the thriller in the center of the pot and work outward with the fillers. Put spillers nearest the edge.

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Ground Rules: Step 5 and 6


Add more mix as needed so that the soil around plants is at the same level as it was in the original nursery pots. Leave at least 1 to 2 inches of space below the lip.

Give your new garden a good drink with a watering can or a hose with a soft-spray nozzle. Water and then check soil level, which may settle, adding more if necessary.

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.