by Matt Gibson
Looking for flower options that work well in containers? Not everyone has time to plant and tend to a full outdoor ground plot for their gardens. Cultivating beautiful blooms outdoors in flower beds can be a lot of work and a lot of maintenance—it’s pretty much a year-round job. In today’s fast-paced society, many of us already work more than one job.
Container gardening is a wonderful way to learn about plants and hone your gardening skills without becoming overwhelmed by having to manage too much space. Curating a container garden full of flowers is a wonderful way to brighten up any patio, porch, or windowsill with natural vibrance and beauty. Flowers you grow in containers are also portable, giving you the option to bring your plants indoors to add flashes of color and a touch of elegance to your dining area or to create a fragrant bouquet to grace your front foyer.
While there are plenty of flowers you can choose from that are well suited to containers and could have easily been included here on this list, we decided to focus on container-friendly flowers that will repay your energy and attention by continuing to produce blossoms for extended growing periods. Flower-filled containers are much easier to work with than garden beds—no bending down low or digging into rock-hard ground required here. When you’re armed with just a bit of information and devote some care and attention to your plants, you can have a glorious garden of luscious blooms popping up in no time. We’ve compiled a list of our top picks of flowers to grow in containers, provided some pro tips to help you get started on the right foot, and even threw in links to some videos that will give you a more in-depth tutorial on how to grow and care for each flower we selected.
Pro Tips for Getting The Most out of Your Container Flower Garden
The most important thing you can make sure of to ensure your container garden is successful is to use containers with sufficient drainage. Make sure there is a hole in the bottom of your pot so that you don’t drown the root system when watering your plants. Different types of flower have different care needs and instructions, but all of them will need some sunlight exposure and well-draining soil to thrive.
Another key to maintaining a top-of-the-line flower garden is to feed your flowers the nutrients they need to keep on producing bloom after bloom throughout the growing season. Though regular potting soil should be fine for most of the flowers in your container garden, it doesn’t usually come with any added nutrients. That means it will be up to you to add a slow-release fertilizer before planting seeds or your plants and to dose your plants once per week with a liquid fertilizer.
Regular watering is an important ritual, as sufficient hydration is, of course, essential to keep roots from drying out if you want to get the most out of your plants each blooming season. Another paramount practice to add to your daily duties is called deadheading—pinching off dead or dying flowerheads to encourage new blooms to grow in their places.
Container Flower Designs
When it comes to container flower designs you can make yourself, there are endless options. The main three categories most of these options fall into are the single accent design, a multicolored design, or the mixed-bag design. Try your hand at creating a mix of all three of the different styles in your flower garden, then decide which combinations you like the best.
The single accent is just as straightforward as it sounds— single container, filled exclusively with a particular flower, all of the same variety. This approach creates an eye-catching boost of color wherever it’s placed. Try a out a pot filled with a single variety of deep purple angelonias to bring a gorgeous pop of beauty to a nice sunny garden grove. Fill a pot with brilliant cranberry nemesias and another with remarkable orange begonias. Then let them lounge near each other on a shady porch or balcony. Fill a hanging basket with your favorite shade of Calibrachoa, more commonly known as million bells, which seems to flow out of its container, covered in stunning rose-like blooms.
The multicolored design can be accomplished by using different shades of the same flower or by mixing multiple species of flowers in the same pot. This method is commonly referred to as companion planting. It is very important, when you’re selecting flowers to pair together, that your groups all share the same soil and sunlight preferences as well as water and fertilizer needs. You can also get creative with how colors combine in your design, by pairing up different types of blooms and foliage.
The mixed-bag container design can be a catastrophe if constructed haphazardly, but it can also be a work of art if you have an eye for elaborate arrangements and a creative flair. Experimentation is the key to the mixed-bag approach. You want to play with the variances and differences in not only the color of your selections and the different types of blooms and foliage, but also the height, width, and growing direction of the plants you select for the container. You will want some tall and skinny flowers, some wider, bushier species, and even a border of trailing flowers or flowering vines to tie the whole thing together.
Best Flowers to Grow in Containers
Begonias look great in a container by themselves or nestled into a mix of other types of flowers. Ranging in color from stark white to a unique pastel orange and varying widely in appearance, with bloom types that range from a loose bell-shaped blossom to a dense, rose-like flower head, there is a begonia that is perfect for every personality type and taste out there. Most of the varieties you can find will do very well in containers. As long as you don’t let the roots get too wet, begonias will thrive.
Nasturtiums are a long-blooming annuals that work extremely well in container gardens. These showy, tuba-shaped beauties come in white, red, pink, orange, yellow, and peach, with unusual circular foliage that is either solid green or light green touched with splashes of cream. Bred widely because of its easy care and genetic versatility, nasturtium is now available in bush, mound, and vine varieties.
Verbena offers gardeners over 250 varieties to choose from in the species. The plants can be just a few inches tall or grow up to four feet, depending on the genus. Available in shades of blue, pink, purple, red, and white with blue-green leaves and a wonderful fragrance. If you live in a warm climate area, look for the six to 10-inch tall trailing or moss varieties. Verbena plants produce a ton of clustered flowers that look great in all kinds of containers.
The summer snapdragon, also referred to more commonly as angelonia, has very delicate-looking and thin clusters of petals that spread vertically on each stem. Its fragile blooms need a bit of protection from the wind, so angelonia containers should be placed next to a wall, then brought indoors during thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions, making this plant a perfect choice for pots and containers. Other than a bit of wind protection, Angelonia is actually pretty hardy. The summer-blooming beauty is heat tolerant, somewhat drought resistant, and doesn’t need to be deadheaded to produce new flowerheads throughout the growing season.
Million Bells Flowers
Great for hanging baskets, million bells are available in every shade you can think of. Each color you peruse is as vibrant and spectacular as the last, making it hard to pick, that is, until you lay your eyes on the “Trailing Blue” hybrid which, despite its name, produces blooms with lovely deep purple petals. No matter what color you pick, the showy, poignant blooming bells will spread out their violet blooms, adding vibrance to your garden that will last throughout the entire summer. The trailing hybrids are especially suited to hanging baskets, which we recommend placing around eye level, as the bells’ blooms are not only fragrant but are known to come with a bit of a show during the summer months, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Coleus comes in a lot of different colors and styles. The flowers themselves actually look more like foliage than blooms, and they cover the entire plant. The leaf-like petals come in reddish green, bronze, gold, blue, and various shades of yellow and orange, but coleus flowers tend to produce more earthy tones than most flowers. They are a natural complement when paired with more traditional-looking flowers in large containers.
Nemesia is a dainty little annual, with small flower clusters that rise upward on the stem in bright colors, such as yellow, pink and cranberry. Nemesia plantw are great additions to mixed containers, adding an interesting variety of bloom types and textures.
Euphorbia’s frilly, delicate tiny flowers look so starkly different from most of the other flowers that you will most likely be growing in your container garden that they are a must-have just for the visual contrast they will bring to your flower garden. (Euphorbia blooms remind many gardeners of lace patterns.) They will be especially gorgeous when juxtaposed against larger, more pronounced blooms in a mixed-bag type of container design. The Glitz and Diamond Frost varieties are especially showy. Drought and heat tolerant, Euphorbia enjoys full sun to partial shade.
Videos About Growing Flowers in Containers
Here’s a list of quick tutorial videos to help you get started growing each of the flowers we recommended for growing in containers: