top of page

How-to Create Container Gardening Pots

This is really a great set of speakers we’ve had join us for our complimentary classes this Spring! Many local homeowners are enjoying learning more about gardening. This past weekend we were treated with having Barbara Wise, author of Container Gardening for All Seasons, come talk with us about making pretty container pots! Let me tell you- she has got some serious talent for making gorgeous container pots! Her book is amazing- so many ideas and they are easy to do yourself or great if you want to make your own design but want a jump start from hers. She also signed all of our copies we have here at our Garden Center, so if you missed the class, still come by and pick up a copy of this must- have gardening book! Below I will outline some of her tips and ideas from the class.

When it comes to container potting, you want to remember THRILL, FILL, and SPILL: a taller “thriller” in the center, “fillers” complementing the thriller around it, and a great “spiller” trailing down.

4 general rules to container gardening:

  1. Good drainage: a must! If you do not have drainage holes in your pot, see if you can drill them (if it is plastic) or go with a different pot.

  2. Good quality potting soil: we sell a very nice Garden Magic Potting Soil that Barbara recommended also. She also recommended adding some vermiculite (very small lightweight rocks sold in a bag) to the potting soil to help with drainage

  3. Coordinating plants: not talking about color here (although that’s awesome, too!), but rather selecting plants that all have same sun requirements and soil conditions for your pot. Barbara suggested doing a trio of pots for a nice presentation if they all like full sun but one plant needs a drier soil than the others.

  4. Mix up textures: not all trumpet shaped flowers together, not all oval leaves, etc. Give it some flavor and mix it up!

Barbara went on to speak about Perennial Garden Planters. She suggested potting perennials for about 3 years and then transferring them to your garden.

She gave several suggestions of amazing pot combinations that are grouped below. These pot combos can be left outside on your deck or front porch all year.

Morning Sun/Afternoon Shade Perennial Pot combo:

  • Camellias: (oh, I love me some Camellias!) At Riverbend, we offer varieties that are hardy in our zone; you want to pay careful attention to that when buying Camellias from other locations

  • Heuchera: Also known as Coral Bells; limey green varieties look especially awesome with the dark, glossy foliage of Camellias

  • Japanese Painted Fern: ‘Pictum’ variety is an excellent choice with blue green leaves

  • Yucca: traditionally thought of as a sun loving plant, this colorful spikey dude also loves shade

(Another Morning Sun/Afternoon Shade Perennial Combo):

  • Japanese Maple ‘Crimson Queen’: a variety that is super slow to grow and does not get tall anyway. Ms. Wise has had one potted for years and seen only a couple inches of growth. Also, these maples have shallow root systems which make them great for potting.

  • Japanese Painted Fern

  • Heuchera or Hosta ‘Liberty’

  • English ivy

Full Sun Annual Pot combo:

  • Thunbergia ‘Arizona Glow’: Black Eyed Susan vine. A-mazing; getcha one. For this in a pot you need a large obelisk or trellis in the center for this vine to climb upon.

  • Shrimp plant: a tropical plant that we offer here; a very cool plant

  • Marigold: the dwarf variety, ‘Jane’

  • Lantana: ‘Dallas Red’

(Another Full Sun Annual Pot Combo):

  • Shrimp plant

  • Chamomile: (the herb, yes- a great filler! very wispy)

  • White petunias: spilling out

Many other combos were shown and talked through! For more, buy her book!


Turn “filler” plants on their sides to have them at an angle to showcase them. They will also spill more out of the pot and therefore look even prettier.

Some less thought of great “spillers”: Loropetalum ‘Purple Pixie’, Nandina ‘Harbor Belle’, Mandevilla vine- turn it on its side and have it spill out of a pot!

Be creative! Use fun small pebbles and rocks to cover your soil in the pot. Barbara shared that she has used brightly colored (like turquoise!) granular rocks traditionally used in aquariums before for a fun Summer look.

Here is Barbara’s book along with another she recommends:

Come to our next class!! THIS Saturday, 1 pm! Cindy Shapton will be here teaching us all how to grow herbs well!

  • Saturday, April 16th @1pm: Cindy Shapton (author of The Cracked Pot Herb Book), Discussion on Kitchen Garden Containers

  • Saturday, April 23rd @1pm: Ron Daniels (Master Consulting Rosarian for Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville & featured gardener on NPT’s “Volunteer Gardener”), Rose Discussion

We are also stocking our Garden Center this weekend with tons of Spring/Summer bloomin’ annuals…. it’s that time of the year!! Come by and see us this weekend!

426 views0 comments
bottom of page