Container gardens are a fun way to add color nearly anywhere in your landscape without having to build permanent, costly beds, but even the best container flower gardens will lack pizzazz without great garden plants. No matter what kind of containers you’ve got, from copper-lined window boxes to ornamental planters, plants can add a riot of color to all of your overlooked spaces. Choose one or more of these colorful plants to bring your container to life:
1. Petunias. These flexible, colorful annual flowers appear in a range of colors and forms, including both mounders and trailers. Place them in the sun or light shade, water them well and prepare for an explosion of color.
2. Violas. Petunias and Johnny-jump-ups are annual favorites for early spring planters in the shade. Both come in a huge range of colors and work wonderfully together. Plant them in the fall and move them indoors just before the last frost for an even better performance in the spring.
3. Coleus – Tolerant of sun and shade, coleus appear in a wide range of colors and patterns. Their flowers aren’t much, but the leaves of coleus more than make up for the lack of blooms. Coleus fill in containers beautifully or provide bright backdrops for solid-colored flowers.
4. Coral Bells. No discussion of colorful plants could be complete without coral bells. Their bright, lobed foliage has been hybridized into practically every color under the sun. These perennials quickly fill large containers and send up flower spikes in sun and shade conditions.
5. Nasturtium. They’re both bright and delicious — plant nasturtiums in the front of your containers and let them run over the sides. The flowers of this vining annual are edible and are often added to salads to impart a peppery flavor.
6. Hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus perennials are best grown in containers because of their cold sensitivity. They make beautiful additions to patios and porches, as long as you keep them trimmed and groomed.
7. Ornamental Kale. An unusual addition to containers, ornamental kale brings color to the fall landscape. Replace your spring and summer annuals with kale in the fall to keep your containers growing until the first hard freeze.
8. Chrysanthemums. Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean that you have to give up brightly colored flowers for the year. Chrysanthemums have a tidy mounding habit, overwinter in many areas and bloom throughout the fall.
9. Tulips. Most people don’t think about putting bulbs in their container gardens, but they should. So many gorgeous tulip varieties have been bred to fit into small spaces that there’s no excuse to leave them out of your window boxes and patio planters.
10. Sunflowers. Mini sunflowers in red, yellow and orange are cheery companions to grasses and foliage plants. Grow different varieties in a large container for a grouping of blooms full of color and texture.
Brown thumb? Go faux [plants]!
If you want container garden plants without all the fuss, another option is to arrange outdoor-rated artificial plants in your window boxes, baskets and planters. Although you’ll miss out on the fun of watching your plants grow and bloom, you won’t have to worry about accidentally forgetting to water them, and they’ll always look their best!