Plant arrangement in container at Van Luyk Greenhouses London ON

You don’t need a green thumb or big backyard to create an eye-catching display for your container. The key is balance – using a tall plant (thriller), a trailer that cascades over the edge of the pot (spiller) and a medium-size plant to add fullness (filler). Select a good mix of colours, textures and foliage types to achieve something unique! Remember too that your container should reflect your own tastes and sensibilities — if you’re not happy with how something looks, change it! Perhaps you’d prefer no thriller and extra filler. Maybe it’s a hanging container and you just want a variety of spillers. Maybe you want a formal look, with a single large thriller in each container. It’s up to you!

Plants in urn available at Van Luyk Garden Centre London ON

Where you place your containers will depend on the types of flowers or vegetables you’re growing. Some plants need full sun, while others prefer a little (or a lot of) shade. The beauty of container gardening is that you can move pots to more favorable conditions if they’re not thriving in their original location.


  • Choose three types of young plants: one for height, another to trail and the third to fill out the pot. Stick with two or three — maybe four — agreeable colors. Contrasting textures can create another level of interest
  •  Select  a container at least 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep. If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, it’s easy to drill your own. Put newspaper, broken terra-cotta pottery shards or gravel in the bottom for drainage.
  •  Fill the container half way with packaged potting mix – never dirt from the garden, which is too heavy. Gently remove each plant from its plastic pot and massage compacted roots to loosen them.
  •  Plant the thriller in the centre of the pot and work outward with the fillers. Put spillers nearest the edge.
  •  Add more mix as needed so that the soil around the plants is at the same level as it was in the original nursery pots. Leave at least one to two inches of space below the lip of the container.
  •  Give your new garden a good drink with a watering can or a hose with a soft-spray nozzle. Water and then check soil level, which may settle, adding more if necessary.

Care of your Containers

Clean Up Your Plants – With proper watering and fertilizing, your container plants will flower so much that you may need to remove dead flowers and seed pods. This helps keep the plant looking its best–and is a nice way to relax after a long day, which is what gardening is all about.

Water Before Wilting – Do not wait for wilting as your cue to water! Flowering plants do best if you never allow them to wilt. Take extra care with watering, since containers tend to dry out faster than garden plants due to more wind exposure and warmer temperatures.

Flowering plants in full sun should be watered daily. For shade containers, check soil moisture daily to avoid overwatering. Watering in the morning allows the plants to drink during the day and not go to bed too wet at night.

Be sure to water thoroughly. If the container dries out, the soil may shrink and allow water to quickly run out the drain holes, fooling you into thinking it is thoroughly watered when, in fact, the water is bypassing the roots. You may need to re-water the container again in 15 minutes. Ensure that the outer edges of the pot are also well watered.

Fertilize When Needed – Yellowing of leaves and poor  flowering can indicate a need for fertilizer. Use a water soluble fertilizer for flowering plants every two weeks. Do not apply fertilizer to dry soil. You can also use coated, slow-release fertilizer beads.

Plan for Vacation Survival – Do not forget your containers when you go on vacation. If you can’t get a “plant-sitter” to water them while you are gone, set them on the ground in the shade. With a thorough watering before you leave, most plants will last a week on the ground in a well-shaded location. Flowering may be reduced when you first re-position your plants, but they will soon return to their summer glory.

If your plants get large and overgrown, right before you go on vacation is a good time to trim them back and remove some of the extra growth.