10 Container Gardening Ideas

One of the reasons we went to Disney for the honeymoon was to find great gardening inspiration, and I was especially focused on finding interesting container plantings to share here. While I got photos of tons of container combos, I've narrowed my choices down to ten photos that stood out the most for their usefulness to the home gardener. Looking for more ideas from Orlando? I've also put together an album on the Facebook Page!

Anything can be a container! I'm sure that many of you have used or seen tires used to accommodate plants before, but I think that this junkyard chic creation at Animal Kingdom takes the cake. While we're at it, the muted turquoise and white paint on the tires is the icing on that very same cake! (Judging by the cake analogies, I must be hungry.)

To anyone who feels frustrated with their small apartment garden, this photo is for you. There is absolutely no reason that you can't design your balcony in the same way as any other landscape, using a cohesive palette of plants and a strong design that unifies your space. This balcony in Winter Park wraps around the building and beautifies the whole business district.
Use a  contrasting groundcover to really make stars like this Tropicanna stand out! The groundcover here is a dwarf mondo grass, with deep green blades and a fine texture that really give that canna the attention it deserves. This container was spotted outside a restaurant in Winter Park.
When massed, potted plants make for a portable instant garden! When combining a variety of plants like this, design the composition like you would a garden bed. If combining different colors, the combo looks more unified when the majority of the plants are of similar height. This grouping was spotted in Italy at the Epcot World Showcase.
Sometimes a singular, architectural plant is the best choice, especially against a bold backdrop such as this ancient looking gate. We found this Alocasia "California" at Morocco in Epcot, and pretty much everywhere else in the Disney Parks. I'm sure that a water loving and rootbound plant like this has to have some automatic irrigation hiding by some way of Disney magic...
Not quite a vertical garden, this stairway planter could be described as a "diagonal garden". If building a custom fitted planter on the edge of your stairway seems daunting, why not hang baskets from the edge? We saw this and many other beautiful garden features at Epcot's Japan. The creeping Juniper horizontalis is perfect for this Asian look!
Yes, the teacup container is indeed a pretty cool idea. What I'm interested in is the way it was presented, on a column in a bed of flowers. Why not construct a pedestal from cinder-blocks and finish it with stucco or paint? I would like to coat it with stained concrete to emulate an ancient stone block, and top it with a carved planter with a bird's nest fern. Sorry, did I get carried away?
I've seen this idea in a few places lately. Replace the water in a fountain with plants for a really interesting conversation piece! The first time I saw this done, the fountain was in need of repairs so the owner planted sweet potato vine and begonias instead. The last time I visited, it was stunning. The sweet potato vine looked like waterfalls and the begonias looked like frothy water. In the fountain pictured, bromeliaphiles will recognize an Alcantarea!
When should you repot your plants? Probably long before your plant gets as big as this yucca. I would hope that the pot is bottomless and allows the roots to reach the ground, otherwise how would it stay upright in storms? Anyways, I was going somewhere with this: Use tough drought tolerant plants and you'll have a lot less work to do... just repot your plant before it get's this big, please.
I'll leave you with this. A container doesn't have to contain plants for it to be beautiful. This urn is perfect against the dark green sanseveria all by itself, and the effect would be ruined if it were planted with anything at all. If you are showing off a container sans-plant, use plants as a backdrop for the fullest effect.

Here are some more articles to help you out:
Container Garden Ideas from the Jacksonville Zoo
How to Combine Houseplants to Make Easy Indoor Gardens
10 of the Easiest Houseplants for Black Thumbs


  1. I love this post. I'm not very creative when it comes to containers (most of the time), so I always enjoy it when others give me ideas! Thanks!

  2. believe it or not i liked the tires the best..

  3. Most of the time ideas are copious within couple of miles radius, worst case throughout the country. Everyone has the common garden 'looks' when it comes to container planting.

    Your post has given me many ideas. Best still these ideas can be incorporated in both small and large gardens. I am saying bye-bye to my uniformity in containers. Thanks..many, many thanks!


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