Flowers for Containers

We are now just past our average last frost date, so we can plant just about anything.  In selecting flowers for containers, check labels for sun and shade requirements. Most sun loving flowers need a minimum of 5 hours of direct sun per day to thrive.

About half of my hanging baskets are single varieties and half are mixed. In mixed baskets I tend to use just 2 or 3 different kinds. Most of my single variety baskets are one color. My favorite single variety mixed color combinations are white, pink, and deep rose, or white with light and dark blue. One of my favorite two variety combinations is Calibrachoa (Million Bells) with Bacopa.

Some of the best plants for single variety containers are ivy Geraniums, Impatiens, hanging basket Begonias, Fuchsias, Bacopa, Calibrachoa (Million Bells), Scaevola, and trailing Petunias. Not all Petunias are suitable for containers. Most bedding Petunias tend to grow upright and do not trail properly. Even the Cascade petunias do not trail properly for containers. The Wave and Supertunia series of petunias are great for containers.

Most of my tubs are mixed plantings. I like to plant at least 2 or 3 plants of each kind per container. I place like plants across from each other or at equal intervals around the container. I place plants so that their soil balls are almost touching each other to get a more immediate effect. There are no bad color combinations in containers. However, I usually avoid mixing red or orange with bright pink

I usually plant one to three upright growing plants in tubs and larger containers. . Some good upright plants are Osteospermum, Salvia, Dracaena spikes, Snapdragon, and ornamental grasses.

If containers are going to be placed under overhangs or other shady areas, choose shade tolerant varieties. Fuchsia, Impatiens, Begonia, Coleus, Pansy, Viola, Lamium, Browallia, Lobelia, Nierembergia, and variegated ivies grow well in the shade.

For sunny areas, some of the most popular flowers include Diascia, Petunia, Ivy Geranium,  Lobelia, Brachycome, Bidens, Nemesia, Pansy, Bacopa, Calibrachoa (Million Bells), Alyssum, Trailing Snapdragon, Trailing Verbena, Lotus, and sweet potato vine.

 Be bold and try different combinations of colors and plants. One of the nice things about containers is that plants are spaced close together. If one or two plants do not make it, the others will grow and fill in the space.

For more information on planting flowers, visit my web site: and click on flowers under the How to page.


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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