Landscape Design: Container Gardening

May 20th 2022
Brandon Opperthauser

Container Gardening

Now that the Michigan weather has finally turned to spring, it is time to start planting seasonals in your landscape. One of my favorite ways to utilize annuals is Container Gardening. In our last blog, we touched on how adding colorful containers can upgrade the look of your home. Now, we will dive deeper into container gardening and discuss what makes a fantastic seasonal arrangement in a container.

Container Gardens: The Options are Almost Limitless

Container gardening is the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space or wants small pops of color in their yard. A well-styled container is a simple way to add a ‘wow’ factor to your porch or patio. Matching containers on each side of your front walkway will impress your guests, while containers on your patio are a simple way to add color. Shade-dominant areas in gardens can also benefit from the added height and color of a container and provide more options for colorful shade plantings.

Garden Centers are stocked full of flowers, and there are so many different options for seasonals it can be hard to know where to start. Deciding what colors and plant combinations look best can lead to limitless possibilities. Regarding the arrangement itself, it’s always good to have a Thriller, a Spiller, and a Filler.


The Thriller plant is the focal point of the arrangement and is typically the tallest in the container, with sizeable attractive foliage or a showy flower. Canna Lily or Caladium are great selections if you are looking for that tropical poolside look. For a more natural look, Coleus or Mandevilla are good choices. These plants all provide the height and beautiful colors a Thriller needs.


The next step is selecting the Spiller. The spiller should grow up and over the edge of the container to spill down the side. The importance of the spiller is to bring added texture to the arrangement and to soften the container. Some great fillers I like to use are Sweet Potato Vine, Lemon Coral Sedum, or even a variegated Ivy vine.


The last step is the Filler. This is where your creativity shines. Since we’ve chosen an upright seasonal for our Thriller and a vine-like seasonal for our Spiller, we need something to cover up all that dirt in the pot but also bring some flower power. Good selections include Superbells, Lantana, Supertunia, Calibrachoa and many more! Choose two or three options to add variety, or pick one for a more simplistic look. When purchasing seasonals for fillers, it’s important to plant in odd numbers. Oddly enough, this is most pleasing to the eye.

Note: Container Plants Need More Water

One last thing to consider when container gardening is that plants need water more often. Make sure you are keeping a regular watering schedule, especially in the hot summer months. If you plan on vacationing for long periods, have someone to water your containers for you. If you have an existing irrigation system, consider having drip lines installed in areas you most commonly keep containers.