Container Gardening Annuals

Summer Container Gardens

Zone 5 & 6 Container Gardening – My Favorite Annuals for a Sunny Location:

There are few things in life that can give you the instant gratification that a container garden can. All you really need to get started is a container with drainage holes, some quality potting soil, and a few healthy plants. Get creative and have fun with it!

While you can grow either annuals (plants that only last the season) or perennials (plants that return yearly) in containers, annuals are where you get the biggest impact. They bring color immediately and can grow big quickly. They’re also less expensive, though you do typically have to replace them every year. 

I like to arrange containers in groups of three … usually in varying heights. Always loving a bargain, I’ve found most of my pots at end-of-summer closeout sales or thrift shops. One of my favorite groupings consists of three pottery containers in vivid shades of purple, green and cobalt. Container gardening annuals make for an eye-catching display all season long!

Best Annuals & Perennials for Attracting Pollinators … Click Here

There are so many cool container choices now…I have a combo of plastic and ceramic. For larger pots, I really like the plastic ones that look like aged stone. They’re great because they are classy looking, lightweight, and you can still move them around even when they are filled with soil and plants. If they were real stone, you’d need a forklift!

Tips For Container Garden Success:

Conatiner Garden Annuals by

Sweet Potato Vine, Calibrachoa & Begonia Will Thrive All Summer!

Select plants that will be happy with the same amounts of water, sun, heat and food. When you are choosing plants for your container make sure that they will “play well together”.

If you combine plants with different needs, some of them will not thrive. So, if you have a plant that requires full sun, you want all the plants you choose for that pot to also require full sun. If you have a plant that likes to dry out between waterings, you don’t want to put it in a pot with plants that like moist conditions …

The best way to determine what a plant requires, either check the plant tag or if there isn’t one, ask a salesperson, or look it up online. Try to do your research beforehand so you aren’t overwhelmed when you go shopping for your flowers. With so many colors and types on display, it’s easy to become a deer in the headlights …

Olbrich Gardens Madison WI

Why Not Use Succulents In Containers For Interest?

I like to save my plant tags in plastic sheet protectors for future reference. It makes it so much easier the next year to know what worked and didn’t, what I liked from that season, great color combos … etc.

Make sure to use a good potting soil mix, not garden soil. A mix with peat, perlite or vermiculite will retain moisture longer and yet be well draining. (Garden soil is too heavy and can be chock full of weed seeds, bugs, and bacteria — stuff that you definitely don’t want in your pots…plus it may not drain properly).

Annuals for containers

Calibrachoa Works Great In Containers!  Easy Care and Blooms All Summer.

Instead, use potting soil (also called potting mix or container mix). Potting soil is well aerated, sterile, lightweight, and made of a good balance of organic material and mineral particles like peat, sand, or perlite. You can purchase bags of it at garden centers, hardware and discount stores, and home improvement chains.

Lack of water can quickly kill plants in a container garden. Unlike plants grown in the ground, container plant roots can’t move down deeply in search of subsurface water. Check containers daily for water needs in hot or windy weather. They can shrivel up in no time…but can usually revive with a good soaking.

Lantana in Containers

Colorful Lantana in Pots Attracts Butterflies – Waterwise and Pretty

Now on to some of my favorite plants for Zone 5 & 6 Container Gardens:

You Can’t Beat These Container Garden Favorites … View Them Here

* Vincas – Look like impatiens, but loves the sun. My plants of choice for “brown-thumb” types ; ) Easy to grow and low maintenance!

* Zonal Geraniums– What’s not to love! Just remember to deadhead so they keep blooming all season …

* Lantana – Drought tolerant, very colorful and attracts butterflies …

* Petunias – Easy care and the wave trailing varieties look great cascading down your container sides …

* Coleus – Grown for their colorful foliage, so many stunning combinations! One of our favorites is called, “Dip’t In Wine” …

Container Using vincas, geranium, impatiens and more by

Geraniums, Vinca, New Guinea Impatiens and Calibrachoa in Containers Stand Out

* Calibrachoa – Fantastic colors plus hummingbirds and butterflies love them. I just planted ‘Can Can Orange’ in a container garden. Gorgeous color! Looks especially good paired with purple and yellow flowers …

* Scaevola – Trailing types are great in pots and hanging baskets. I’m partial to the lavender-blue ones …

Scaevola in Containers

Scaevola in Containers – Purple Passion!

* Dahlia – Vigorous, upright, mounding plants in a range of colors …

* Begonia– Great bloomers all season, like well drained soil …

* Lobelia– Versatile plants that do well in containers, hanging baskets and window boxes …


Tips For Arranging Container Gardening Annuals:

When combining the plants in your containers, always make sure they all have the

same light and water requirements. Plant them in odd numbers and be sure to have at least one thriller, filler, and spiller plant. Combining these three types of plants adds interest and balance to any container garden …

Container Gardens Thriller, Filler and Spiller

Nice Example of a Thriller, Filler … & Spiller

  • Thriller: These plants add height and a bold vertical element. Some options include foliage plants, ornamental grasses, or upright flowering plants like cannas, tall salvias, or hibiscus. Thrillers typically go near the center or the back of a container.
  • Filler: Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and serve the purpose of making the container look full. These are generally placed in front of or around the thriller. Begonias, geraniums, and lantana are some of my favorite fillers.
  • Spiller: Plants that hang over the edge of the container are considered spillers. If your container garden is going to be seen from all sides, be sure to place spillers all the way around such as sweet potato vines, trailing petunias, and calibrachoa.

Container Garden Color by


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