How to Make a Container Garden

Want to tackle your very own container? We've got you. Prairie Gardens Plant Expert spill their best tips for making a successful container garden you'll absolutely love. 


Start With The Location

Where your container will be going tells you the most important thing when picking out your container plants: whether you need sunny or shady varieties. 

Sunny Container 

Sunny Container 

10 Best Sunny Annuals for Containers

  1. Petunias
  2. Lantana
  3. Calibrachoa
  4. Geranium
  5. Verbena
  6. Bidens
  7. Osteospermum
  8. Pentas
  9. Scaevola
  10. Euphorbia
Shady Container

Shady Container

10 Best Shady Annuals for Containers

  1. Begonia
  2. Caladium
  3. Fuchsia
  4. Oxalis
  5. Lobelia
  6. Torenia
  7. New Guinea Impatiens
  8. Browallia
  9. Coleus
  10. Beefsteak Plant

Mix Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers

Rule of (green thumb) is to mix plants with upward growth habits (thrillers), plants with horizontal growth habits (fillers) and plants with cascading growth habits (spillers), for a well-rounded overall container.

6 Thrillers We Love

  1. Caladiums
  2. Geraniums
  3. Dracena (Spikes)
  4. Colocasia (Elephant Ear)
  5. Grasses
  6. King Tut

6 Fillers We Love

  1. Petunias 
  2. Calibrachoa
  3. Coleus
  4. Lantana
  5. Pentas
  6. Begonias

6 Spillers We Love

  1. Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny)
  2. Ivy
  3. Licorice Plant
  4. Vinca Vine
  5. Bacopa
  6. Sweet Potato Vine

Add Accent Plants

Sprinkling in accent plants, which are plant varieties that have few blooms and are primarily foliage, helps break things up and add irresistible texture.

8 Accent Plants We Love

  1. Asparagus Fern
  2. Vinca Vine
  3. Licorice Plant
  4. Sedum
  5. Oxalis
  6. Lysmachia (Creeping Jenny)
  7. Dracena (Spikes)
  8. Coleus

Mix it up!

Add in edibles, tropicals, perennials, shrubs and more. There's no rule saying you only have to use the most popular annuals. (If it was a rule, we're guilty of breaking it). 

Arborvitae

Arborvitae

Hostas & Hydrangeas

Hostas & Hydrangeas

Some of our favorite out-of-the-box container plants

  • Edibles: Dill, Swiss Chard, Majoram, Ornamental Peppers, Eggplant
  • Tropicals: Hibiscus, Mandevilla
  • Perennials: Hostas, Huechera
  • Shrubs: Hydrangeas

How Many Plants Do I need?

This can vary, but as a general rule, you’ll need about one plant per every 3” of your container’s diameter. So if you have a 12” container, you should plan to plant about 4 plants.
— John W., Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

When Should I start my Container?

As soon as possible! You’ll want to give your container enough time to grow and fill out, so it’s best to start your container right after our frost-free date.
— Mary-Ann M., Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Container

Always use a well-drained soil

We recommend Miracle-grow Moisture Control Potting Soil – find it with Prairie Gardens bagged goods.

Fertilize During the Growing Season

Soil in containers can often lose nutrients after watering. Replace it by fertilizing during the growing season by using a slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer. You can find both on our Solutions wall with Plant Experts always near by to help.

If it's over-growing, give it a trim

If you container is starting to look leggy, just give it a trim! This will promote new growth and allow your container plants to focus their energy elsewhere. 

Water Consistently

Containers lose water faster than plants in the ground, so make sure you are watering consistently and often. It's best to water in the morning, and on warm, windy days you may need to water more than once.