Skip to main content

5 fantastic (and creative) container garden ideas

Container garden inspiration to get you started

A black cat sniffing potted plants outdoors
Miller_Eszter / Pixabay

From simple but lovely displays of a single flower to a complicated but elegant bonsai tree, container gardens come in many forms. If you’re facing down an empty spot by a window or on your porch and aren’t sure what to put there, a container garden might just be the best idea. What should your container garden look like, though, and which plants should you choose? No need to be overwhelmed with endless options. We’ve put together five creative container garden ideas to get you started.

(Snap)dragon’s hoard

Orange snapdragons
ZenAga / Pixabay

For fans of fantasy, why not create an enchanting display that’s also a fun pun? Start with a cluster of snapdragons in the center of your container garden. Red is traditional for a dragon, but any color of snapdragon will work. Next, assemble the dragon’s hoard around it.

Choose flowers with a similar bloom time that enjoy full sun and moist soil. Gold and orange flowers will create a mountain of gold coins for your dragons to lord over. Marigolds, nasturtiums, and calendula are good choices. Add some small and colorful zinnias or cosmos to the mix to act as jewels, and your (snap)dragon’s hoard is complete.

Dollhouse garden

A small pot with a tiny house plant and succulents
panattar / Shutterstock

If you love the whimsy of a fairy garden, but aren’t sure it matches your aesthetic, then the more flexible dollhouse garden might be a perfect fit. Like a fairy garden, this is a miniature container garden full of small plants. Moss serves as a perfect base for this, with ferns acting as shrubs or bushes.

Depending on the size of your container and how miniature you want to go, you can add wood sorrel, sedum, pheasant’s eye, and even bonsai trees. Then, decorate your garden with dollhouse furniture. You can change out the decor as often as you want, creating themed gardens for holidays or special events.

Container sensory garden

Lamb's ear plant
JamesDeMers / Pixabay

Next on our list of container garden ideas is a container sensory garden. Sensory gardens revolve around plants that engage as many senses as possible. Most gardens engage your senses of sight and smell, but touch, hearing, and even taste can be included in a sensory garden. Since container gardens are smaller, focusing on one or two senses will help avoid crowding the plants or overstimulating the senses.

Plant lamb’s ear and muhly grass to engage in texture. Muhly grass will also make interesting sounds when the wind blows it, as will bamboo. Lavender, sage, and rosemary are good choices for both scent and taste, and any combination of plants will engage your sense of sight!

Living bird feeder

A cluster of juniper branches with bright blue berries
Sonjavdk / Pixabay

Having a bird feeder on a porch, patio, or balcony is a great way to bolster local wildlife and brighten your day, but refilling them can be a chore. Instead, how about growing a living bird feeder in your container garden? Start with a small shrub that grows berries, like blueberries, junipers, viburnums, or beautyberries. Berry-producing vines like ivy or Virginia creeper can hang over the side of your container as well.

Then, add flowers with seed heads that birds enjoy. Coneflower, black-eyed Susans, coreopsis, and sunflowers will give birds plenty of seeds to snack on. If you have the space, you can even add flowers that produce nectar to attract hummingbirds. Cardinal flowers, penstemon, and petunias are great choices for this.

Punk rock

Red ti leaves
ignartonosbg / Pixabay

Container gardens don’t just have to be sweet and floral, of course. If none of these container garden ideas fit your aesthetic, then perhaps a punk rock display is more to your liking. Haworthia, dracaena, and ti leaf are tall and spiky, excellent for creating a mohawk or studded jacket effect. You can accent with literal rocks for a neat pun or continue the theme with red, dark purple, and black plants.

Oxalis triangularis, black prince snapdragons, and red trillium add additional angles, while many common flowers, such as dahlias, carnations, and daisies provide a more accessible option. Container choice is important as well. A dark red, purple, or black container will seem unified with the display, while a lighter pot will help your plants stand out. Consider splitting the difference with an old-fashioned gray stone pot.

Hopefully, one of these container garden ideas has sparked your imagination and given you a burst of inspiration for your own garden design. Whether you follow one of these ideas exactly, make a few changes to suit your own tastes, or take off in an entirely new direction, there are plenty of amazing options for your container garden. Why stop at just one? If you can’t pick your favorite, or if you just have extra space that needs filling, you can have as many container gardens as you want!

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
How to grow yarrow, one of pollinators’ favorite blooms
Add yarrow to your pollinator garden with these tips
An orange and black butterfly on white yarrow flowers

When planning an herb and pollinator garden, your mind might jump to rosemary, lavender, thyme, butterfly bushes, and milkweed, but there’s another option you might have missed. Yarrow is a hardy, easy-to-grow flower that pollinators love. With clusters of tiny flowers that can be white, pink, and yellow, these flowers have a simplistic beauty that makes them a great choice for practically any garden aesthetic. If you want to get started growing yarrow plants for yourself, this guide will tell you how.
When and how to plant yarrow

You can start planting yarrow anytime after the last frost of the year, but before the weather gets too hot. Established yarrow plants can withstand heat, but it can put extra stress on a plant that is young or has just been planted. Choose a planting site with well-draining soil and avoid low-lying areas in your garden where water tends to pool. Yarrow plants don't tolerate standing water. Yarrow flowers can tolerate shade, but they thrive in full sun. If you plant them in shade, be aware that you may need to stake them for extra support, as they tend to get leggy.

Read more
What herbs can be planted together? How to plan your herb garden
Keep these tips in mind for arranging your plants when planning your garden space
A crate full of harvested herbs

There are so many useful and delicious herbs you can grow in your garden, but figuring out how to arrange them can be tricky. Companion planting charts can help you choose companion plants if you already have a few herbs picked out, but what if you aren’t sure where to start? This guide will help you decide what herbs can be planted together in your garden. The best companion plants have similar care requirements, so find the section that best matches your garden and get ready to plant.
Herbs for dry gardens

If the area you have set aside for your herb garden is in full or majority sun with dry or well-draining soil, then you’ll likely need some drought-tolerant herbs. Rosemary and lavender are two of the most commonly planted herbs for this type of garden, and luckily, they pair well with many other herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme make excellent companion plants for each other, as well as both rosemary and lavender.

Read more
How to grow lantana: Everything you need to know
Grow beautiful lantana flowers with this guide
Pink and yellow lantana flowers

Lantana is a beautiful and colorful flower that comes in several bright colors, including orange and pink. Not only is it lovely for humans, but it also attracts tons of butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds. If that sounds like the perfect flower to you, then you’re in luck! Lantana is fairly easy to grow, and this guide to lantana care will answer all your questions, from where to plant it to what other plants it pairs well with. So grab your lantana seedlings and a trowel and let’s get started!
Planting lantana

Start planting your lantana after the last frost of the year has passed. Lantana is a tropical plant, and it thrives in hot, humid conditions and frost can damage it, especially if it is young or recently planted. Choose a planting location that is in full sun, with rich, well-draining soil. Lantana can tolerate some light shade, but the flowers will be brighter and more numerous if your lantana is in full sun. Lantana enjoys wet soil, but it can still develop root rot or other fungal infections if left in standing water for too long.

Read more