container gardening ideas & inspiration

I am a big fan of container gardening because I love the versatility, variety, and volume it offers without the huge, permanent commitment of landscape design.  Today I am sharing useful tips and thoughts for container gardening ideas and inspiration. 

We have not planted our containers for the season this year yet. While organizing and planning what and how to plant this year, I review some inspiration from the past had created new ideas .  I will share some thoughts here to hopefully help and inspire you to plant your own containers.

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Container garden options

First of all, the marketplace is saturated with planters and gardening pots. There are terra cotta, cement, fiberglass, resin, ceramic, cast iron and many more types of containers. There is no lack of originality and individuality in your container gardening design options. BUT I like to take it a step further and use items that maybe were not intended to be used as a planter per se. Yet, they work just as well or even better sometimes in my opinion. 

A perfect example is this vintage tin bread box I bought thrifting. I knew I would not be using it for bread, but I also did not know it would end up on the back patio as a cache pot.  Once I used it with my seasonal flowers on the plant eterage it sealed the deal.  I love the look, and it has stayed there season after season for many years now. It has become faded from the sun and a bit more rusty from the elements but that’s part of the charm.  I do not necessarily plant in it but rather place two 6-inch terra cotta pots planted up.  This is much easier for maintenance and keeping it tidy.

Creative container options

The metal bread box spring boarded the idea to use other metal containers from the kitchen like an olive oil can and an Old Bay seasoning tin.  They add interest, rusting and fading and chipping over the years which adds to the charm. 

Get creative and look around before you toss something into the recycle bin. Look at it with new eyes and maybe get double duty out of it.  I prefer up-cycling items and keeping them out of the landfill. It’s a small gesture but I feel like I am doing my part. If we all did more of this…who knows.

This large vintage enamel basin is our permanent centerpiece on the back patio.  For many years it was planted with succulents, which lasted all year long through the winters. Eventually the succulents became too leggy and were transplanted to a new planter.  In this case as soon as I saw the basin I knew I wanted to use it to plant in it.  Although, I was worried dirt might escape and spill out the side since it had some holes. Luckily we’ve never had that issue.

I also use many galvanized and zinc buckets as planters and even vintage florist vases.  Some of them I plant directly in the container and others I simply drop the grower container into.  I make the distinction by determining if the buckets will also be use and styled inside the house. This way they stay cleaner, minimizing the maintenance.  If I have planted with dirt in a container which I want to thoroughly clean out, I use some bleach in the water as I scrub it out and then let air dry in the sun.

Large container options

For a bigger impact I also use my goat cart as a planter box throughout the seasons.  You can see more details about my goat cart here {through the seasons – a goat cart} and here {it’s a goat thing}.  A couple of reproduction olive buckets fit perfectly side by side in the cart.  Once again these are used as cache pots rather than planted in them by simply dropping grower containers into the buckets. Drop-ins are much simpler, easier and cleaner. 

Other large pieces like this one that can be used for a large impact with seasonal flowers are vintage wheelbarrows or troughs or bicycles with baskets.  One of the items on my “wanted” list is a Turkish baby bath to use as a big impact container.  I am still waiting to find the right one with the right quality at the right price tag.  Also old rickety chairs make the perfect foil to create an interesting planter and you can see a whole post on this here {container gardening and old chairs}.  

Create your own container options

If vintage, crusty old, faded charm is not your thing, then you can also alter new items to make them unique and your own.  I created a whole vignette one year using burlap as a theme and there are various ways you can create your own planters.  You can see the whole post here {burlap container garden}.

burlap container gardening

You can also paint over any container to customize it.  I painted terra cotta pots then transferred a graphic on to them many years ago to give them unique personality.  I love how they have aged and patina’d over the years.    

Container garden versatility

Another great thing about containers is the versatility as to where to place them since they can be moved around.  You can have them on the ground or on a plant stand or hanging or a window box, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

Sometimes a container can just make a big statement on it’s own.

Or sometimes clustering a whole family together for a casual and farmhouse feel.

Or a symmetrical layout for a more traditional look.

Sometimes one variety of flower or plant is planted singly in a container or sometimes a few are clustered together in one container.  When we plant a variety in a container we try to make it an odd number, which is usually three different plants or flowers, keeping in mind different textures, colors, and heights to make the composition interesting. The thriller, filler, spiller philosophy is always a good tip.

Hopefully this has provided ideas and inspiration for containers in your own gardens. 🌼💐🌸

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start a container garden of your own

“I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend.”




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  1. elle says:

    what is a Turkish baby bath???

  2. Pam says:

    I love all of these ideas. I’ll be feauturing this tomorrow at the TFT party. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Pam! I appreciate the visit and the feature. See you tomorrow. XO- MJ

  3. Kerryanne says:

    Your garden and container garden is always beautiful MaryJo.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and inspiration at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to featuring them at the party tomorrow and pinning too.

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet compliments, the feature & the pins Kerryanne. I appreciate all the love. See you tomorrow. 😉. XO- MJ

  4. Debbie- Dabble says:

    I love using containers too..Since I live in a townhouse and have a back yard the size of a postage stamp which is half patio and half mulched yard, I like the movability of containers and can place them where i need a pop of color when perennials finish blooming…Love the containers you shared!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!

    1. Hi Deb! Thanks for stopping by. I just saw the huge project you finished on your back patio. Well done. I love it. XO- MJ

  5. Botanic Bleu says:

    I enjoyed seeing your ideas for planting containers, and loved the blue delphiniums the most. The hanging pot with the Paris background is another one I especially like. Thanks for the inspiration.


    1. I love delphiniums too. I hope to add them to my front yard garden so I can enjoy them year after year. Thanks for the visit. XO- MaryJo

  6. helenfern says:

    What a really great post. Visiting from Grammy’s Grid unlimited linky – I would be so honored if you shared at our Share the Wealth party!!

    1. Thank you! Yes! I just popped over this morning and shared a few posts. Thanks for the visit. XO- MJ

  7. All such beautiful ideas, I can’t wait to plant more flowers, we are going to be in the 80’s this week. xo

    1. Thanks Kristin. I am ready to plant some containers for the year. I hope to start this week. Xo- MJ

  8. decorativeinspirationsgmailcom says:

    This post has me so excited to start all my container flowers. I love to have a bunch of potted flowers throughout my patio and porch. So many great ideas. Thanks MaryJo for the inspiration!

    1. Yes! I’m ready to start planting too. We’ve had so much rain this winter so I’m still waiting. XO- MJ

  9. Cara says:

    MaryJo, I love the olive oil tin! I would not have thought to put flowers in it, but I love the idea. Your plants look great! I wish I could grow them, I have two black thumbs.

  10. Love your post on container gardening. It’s spring and I am ready for flowers. I am happy to feature your container gardening ideas at Love Your Creativity.

    1. Thanks so much Linda! Yes! I’m with you. I’m so over the rain and ready for spring goodness ! Thank you so much for the feature. XO- MJ

  11. MaryJo, I love your recap of past container gardenining ideas!!! I was very happy to feature this post at this week’s Share Your Style #382 (on Saturday this week, lol). <3 I was just happy to finally get SYS out for everyone! I love how you create your containers!! I put some together but with critters chomping, this year especially I am finding it really hard to keep any containers pretty this year. Here's to pest control, lol!!

    Happy spring and Easter to you,
    Barb 🙂

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