The Charlottesville Garden Club

Container Gardening


General Information
Container Garden Plants
Special Books
Useful Websites


General Information

Containers provide the potential for a graden in any amount of space. The smallest one might hold a single impatiens plant or several petite plants, while a large one might harbor a tree. Keep these thoughts in mind when choosing your pots: (1) small pots require more frequent watering than large ones, (2) oversize containers need an enormous amount of potting soil. To save money, fill the bottom half of a big pot with packing peanuts or pinecones, and then fill the balance with your planting soil, and (3) one large pot makes a bold style statement and is easier to maintain than numerous small ones.

There are several things to consider in container gardens if you want them to look their best throughout the season.

Multiple containers containing flowers of the same color are a lot more attractive than containers with different colors and different plants. Hint: If you have stairs leading to the front door of your home - choose one plant to emphasize and plant them in the same size containers and place on both sides of each step. This accentuates the front door as the destination.

"Potluck" Container Gardens
To minimize weight of large containers, place a layer of styrofoam "peanuts" in the bottom third of the pot and, if you wish, level it with a porous cover such as plastic screening or other filtering material (you might try old pantyhose!). Fill with your favorite potting mix or use equal amounts of sterile topsoil, compost or peat moss, composted hardwood bark mulch and sand (or substitute cat box filler). You can plant dwarf trees, shrubs and flowers in your pots. Overplant for lushness.

Container Garden Plants

Some combinations to try for sunny spots:

1. White and yellow marguerites (Chrysanthemum frutescens), Thunbergia "Susie Mix", "Calypso" portulaca", "Tangerine Gem" marigold

2. "Pink Orbit"geranium,White marguerite, "Purple Robe" Nierembergia, "Blue Boy" bachelor button, "Princess Scarlet" dianthus, "Creeping Charlie"

3. "Summer Madness" petunia (red & pink), "Firecracker" zinnia, "Blues" geranium (rose), Lotus vine (Lotus bertholettii)

4. "White Orbit" or "Ringo White" geranium, "Cascade White" petunia, "Snow Carpet" vinca, "Stella White" Campanula isophylla, "White Rocket" snapdragon, "Silver Lace" dusty miller

5. White marguerite, "Covent Garden" baby's breath (Gypsophila), "Wonderland White" alyssum, "Orchid Orbit" and "Apple Blossom Orbit" geraniums, "Wildfire" portulaca

6. "Sunray" coreopsis, "Marmalade" rudbeckia, "jubilee Gem" bachelor button, "Tapestry" nemesia, "Red Hot Sally" salvia, "Variegated creeping Charlie, "Brandy" begonia (pink)

For low light or some sun:
1. "Showtime Blaze" verbena, "Carabiniere Red" salvia "Non-Stop Scarlet" begonia, "Scarlet Wizard" coleus, Ivy

2. "Showstopper Light Lavender" impatiens, "Victoria" salvia, "Non-Stop White" begonia, Rabbit's-Foot fern, Lotus vine

3. "Pink Avalanche" begonia, "Nicki White" nicotiana, "Pink Daddy" petunia, "Pink Carpet" vinca, "Smash Hit Pink" geranium, Wandering Jew, easily grown from cuttings

4. "Sapphire" and "White Lady" lobelia, "Non-Stop Pink" and Non-Stop White" begonias, "String of Pearls" lobelia (mixed colors), "Silver Bells" and "Blue Bells" browallia, Lotus vine

More Combinations of Plants
Sun--African marigolds (deep yellow), petunias (yellow), Lutea ( a trailing plant,"Monopsis" for yellow flowers), Sedum lineare as a filler.
Sun--Best in an urn--Broom, Tulips, Ivy
Sun/semishade--For an urn--Pentas, Lantana, Weigela
Sun/semishade--A simple Spring planting: Tulips (planted in the Fall) surrounded by pansies.
Sun/semishade--Tulips, Hyacinths, Primroses
Semishade--Impatiens (pink New Guinea), Ageratum (pink), Verbena ("Maonettit", pink, trails).
Sun--Zonal geranium (white), Marguerites (small, white), Santolina (light yellow flowers, silver foliage), Dusty Miller (Senecio Maritima (silver foliage), Plecostachys (silver foliage trails) ,Artemisia ("Southernwood).
Sun--yellow Zinnias (deadhead regularly), golden Marjoram, golden Feverfew, Gazania (yellow, foliage trails)
Sun--Blue larkspur ("Blue Cloud", a dwarf form), Artemisia, Helichrysum ( a trailer).
Sun to semishade--"Pink Mist" Scabious,"Charity" Erigeron (low, spreading, pink flowers), English ivy.
Sun--Coleus. Lantana, varigated English Ivy (trailer).
Shade to semishade--Maidenhair fern, Hard shield fern, Hydrangea, Begonia.
Semishade--"Swan River" daisies (pink), Scaevola (pink), Artemisia
Shade--Impatiens, Begonia, Pansy
Sun/semishade--Autumn planting--Caryopteris, Heather, variegated English Ivy
Semishade-- Winter planting--Juniper, Wintergreen (red berries follow summer's white flowers (creeping).
Sun/semishade--Winter evergreens--Euonymus, Hebe "Variegata", Senecio "Sunshine", variegated English ivy.
Semishade--Winter planting--Skimmia  japonica ("Rubella), Viburnum "Eve Price". Skimmia ("Laureola"), variegated English Ivy
Sun--Winter planting--Lawson's cypress, Heather, Ivy ( "Elegance", silver edge, trails).
Sun/semishade--Winter planting--Winter Cherry, Skimmia, Dusty Miller
Hanging Baskets
Sun to semishade--Diascia (pink), Phlox (Beauty series, pink), Verbena (pink), Lobelia ("Lilac Cascade), Ivy leaved Geranium, ( "Madame Crouse", pink, trailing), Reinwardia, white, trailing)
Sun--Yellow Snapdragons, Yellow Pansy (Viola), Golden Ivy, Licorice plant, trails).
Sun--Ivy leaved geranium (dark red), Portulaca (Sundance Series, red), Verbena ("Showtime", red), Winged pea ("Lotus Berthelotit", red flowers, trailing)
Sun, but sheltered--Windflower (white), English Daisy(pink), Spurge (lime green), Pasque flower ("Rubra", red Anemone), Euonymous ("Emerald 'n Gold")


Special Books

The Book of Container Gardening
Malcolm Hillier
Published in 1991 by Dorling Kindersley Publishing Co. of London, this big, beautiful book has lavish illustrations of designs by Mr. Hillier.  He concentrates on various types of containers and how to place them in the best locations.  He also takes up plant care, pests and diseases.
Container Gardening Through the Year
Malcolm Hillier
This book, published later than the above edition, illustrates designs that are possible at any time of the year.  It is informative, practical and inspiring.  If you want just one book on Container Gardening, this one would serve you well.
Container Gardening
Ray Waite
Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening
This book emphasizes the mechanics of container gardening and gives advice on planting in three situatiions; outdoors, under glass (conservatories and greenhouses), and in the home.
Container Gardening
American Horticultural Society Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening
Information on planting and growing plants in containers. Illustrates the versatility of container gardens with sections on growing vegetables, bulbs, shrubs and trees, fruits, succelents, and bonsai.


Useful Websites
Vibrant plants perfect for container or garden
Large selection of Lawn & Garden Tools--products for container gardening
Drip irrigation watering kits designed for container gardening
Monthly column by Kathy Reiffenstein on various aspects of container gardening; tips. designs, watering and fertilizing.
Information on outdoor container gardening--Container water gardens; creative screening with plants.
Container vegetable gardening
Sophisticated Containers; well made, Classic, Modern, English, Provence.