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The Perfect Plant and Pot – 5 Simple but Exciting Container Garden Combos

June 23, 2023

It’s that time of year when spring has most definitely sprung. The heat is starting to set in (and real hard-work gardening projects start to seem a little less exciting – who wants to sweat that much?). And then there is an end-of-school-year/kids’ home busyness that comes with children.  

Who needs to make things harder with a complicated flower pot design?

If you have garden containers to fill and would love to have the cooling freshness that plants bring to any space (indoors or out) – you don’t need to make anything harder than it needs to be.

Keep it simple and straightforward without sacrificing style with these container garden combos. The trick is this: One Pot + One (type of ) Plant = Huge Designer Style.

Yes, this is just two elements (a plant a pot) but it is the thoughtful combination that is magical. A lot can be accomplished if you don’t try too hard.  Let me know if you think these hit the mark…

Container Combination Ferns and Buckets

ferns and galvanized buckets container planting
A full and healthy fern will dress up the most mundane pot and mixed with galvanized metal, it is a classic plant combination ideas for easy container gardens.
ferns and black terracotta container planting
Swap out the galvanized metal for black pots for simple and perfect containers.

Galvanized Ribbed Container From Rejuvenation

Black Terracotta Plant From Rejuvenation

Lush ferns are happy with a little dry shade. (Meaning you won’t be as much a slave to them as to other more needy plants).

One big fern can fill a shiny metal bucket or a look super sexy adjacent to some black terracotta. (I am not sure which look I like better).

Ferns tend to be cheap and plentiful and they give you an opportunity to surrounding yourself with the fresh rain-forest garden feel. This look will work with nearly any house style or outdoor space and will give you a nice sense of enclosure and lushness.

Ferns look better (and are happier) in a spot that doesn’t get baked by the sun all day (patio, front porch, flanking the garage, etc) – but most ferns can take at least a half day’s exposure.

Sassy Grasses + Monochrome Planters = Chic Container Garden Combo

pink muhly grass and pink planter container garden

Modern Pink Planter from Burke Home

Pink is usually a soft garden color that makes me think of grandmas cottage. But this contemporary pink container filled with Pink Muhly grass asserts a strong modern sensibility that is really the opposite of faded blowsy blossoms. It is more of a standout feature that sets the scene. (All about pink Muhly grass)

If you have a chic pool deck, or maybe a cozy mid century home this monochromatic combination is an easy way to make big design statement.

If you aren’t into pink, maybe switch it up with a purple grass and a plum container or a silvery grass and a grey container.)

Flower Pot Combinations – Stately Castor Bean and Rustic Terracotta Flower Pot Design

castor bean and antique terracotta container planting

Antique Terracotta Planter from Rejuvenation

I have an obsession with Ricinus (Castor Bean) – for me it is a case of wanting the thing I can’t have (or maybe shouldn’t have)

Here in New England, I’ve never once seen it in a nursery (I’ve always grown mine from seed). I know down on Long Island, there are lots of places where I can find this ‘dangerous’ but stately plant.  But, you know, — New Yorkers — and their fashionable ways. 😉

To keep an eye on this plant, you might want to grow castor bean in a pot – it works well and quickly will be quite tall.

This combo of exotic and exciting Castor Bean with the Moroccan Planter from Rejuvenation is a dangerous and sexy mix.

Other less controversial plants that I think could be substituted here – Amaranth, Quinoa, or maybe rhubarb, though I have read that many people struggle to keep this heavy feeder happy in a pot.

Bright Fresh Blues with Modern Reclaimed Wood

reclaimed wood planter and brage container garden combo
Wood and blue is country garden chic that makes container gardens easy.

Reclaimed Wood Planter from Greenery By Design

Clean and bright and cheery, it is the Pollyanna of my little collection.  I can see this container nicely paired with perhaps another wooden vessel (of different size, shape or height) similarly filled with white daisies or something just so fresh and clean.

Another options to extend the season of pretty blue flowers into the spring would be to grow leafy brunnera. I’d also like to try growing Anchusa Dropmore or amsonia in a pot like this.

Modern Container Garden Idea – Pair Unique Succulents with a Shapely Pot

parrots beak lotus and oiive oil urn planter combination

For an eye-catching Mediterranean look, try a combo of Lotus Golden Parrots Beak with a classic Olive Oil Urn From Ballard Design.  It gives Southern Italian or Moroccan plant pot vibes, and it is timeless and traffic-stopping.

This is probably suited to a climate warmer than my own – a place where the Lotus would not have to be brought indoors in the winter to survive.

An Olive urn planter is a unique shape that I think calls for an equally special plant partner. This type of container garden combo – where you are focussing on complimenting shapes – can yield artful results. The Lotus is a draping plant that will send branches of silver over the side, topped off with flowers that kinda look like flames.

So, which is your favorite?  Are you going to give any of these a try?

If you would like to learn more about how to create successful container gardens, join me in my annual course – Creating Containers – A Year of Creating Collected Gardens in Pots with Rochelle Greayer.

This is another great container garden design post that you might find helpful:

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  1. That muhlenbergia made me catch my breath. I love the way you use color. Nothing boring about your suggested combos! Clever way of suggesting plant/pot pairings. Enjoyed your post, and your design aesthetic very much. I’ll be back.

  2. Robert Webber says:

    My goodness you have good taste and great style!
    Best Wishes

  3. Love your pairings! And I have a narrow-topped urn to plant that Lotus will be perfect for. And that Castor Bean/Moroccan combo is killer. Thanks!

  4. Katie says:

    SUPER idea: I enjoy gardens put together as you describe. It’s a way that gardeners without a lot of space can emulate a “real life garden” in real size.

    Also, the way you prepared your pics was super cool! Neat technique.

  5. andrea says:

    love the singular plant/container combinations – i often find that containers have too many things – too many different plant types – in them. a statement is so much louder when it is simply made!

  6. Pam/Digging says:

    Those are all pretty fantastic. I like the black bucket with the ferns, picking up the dark stem color. But my overall fave is the last image.

  7. Beautiful color pairings!

  8. Susan aka Miss R says:

    Rochelle you hit it out of the park. Single specimen containers are the thing right now and you showed hos to do it with panache!

  9. I love the way that you broke this down for us novices… good to keep it simple sometimes…

  10. Louise says:

    by far the most visually interesting post , R, Again thanks.

  11. Denise says:

    Really beautiful containers and wonderful to pair each one with just the perfect plant.

  12. I LOVE your take on this post! My favorite? The muhlenbergia for sure (maybe it’s because I just returned from a huge installation where we planted 15 of them!). I love your pairings – you’re an amazing designer as well as blogger!

  13. I love the one plant/one pot concept–simple yet striking! And, I would kill for the terra cotta olive oil urn–seriously, kill. Well, maybe just maim. Awesome post!

  14. Hi Rochelle,
    I like your “Serving suggestion” approach to container gardens. Very original, just like you. Always enjoy your wonderful taste.

    Shirley Bovshow

  15. rochelle says:

    thanks everyone — I am glad you all like the post!

  16. Germi says:

    Let’s see… the muhly … but wait…
    I also loved the fern in the bucket …
    but then there was the CASTOR BEAN!!!!

    DING DING DING!!! The winner!!! (for ME, that is!)

    LOVE IT, gonna TRY IT … whenever I can afford a pot like that!

  17. Love them all, but the parrots beak in the terracotta pot is genius! I do a lot of mediterranean gardens and am always looking for ways to stay within that theme but give them a bit of an unexpected twist (enough with the lavender already!) Will be stealing that one for sure.

  18. Scott says:

    To have to choose which of the combos is my favorite, just might cause a system overload, as they are all beautiful. I think for a traditional New Englander, the Felicia in the wooden container first grabs my attention, but I would love to have the Muhlenbergia as well. Great post!

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