Get Your Container On!

Container planting is a fun, simple way to decorate your patio, balcony, front porch or yard. Not to mention, containers are the perfect accent for that backyard barbecue and a great way to explore your creative side. Whether you’re new to gardening and want to stretch that green thumb of yours, or a seasoned gardener looking for a vibrant focal piece, the options are endless. When deciding on what container to create, there are a few things to consider before diving in head first:

Container Specs (Material, Size)

There’s an array of materials to consider, glazed/ceramic, cast iron, wrought iron, terracotta, concrete, wood, tin, composite/faux and plastic. Remember, it's important that your container has drainage. Too much water building up in the container after rain can quickly drown the plants. A single hole proportionate to the size of the pot is all that is necessary. If you have a big concrete urn, make sure to check the drainage hole. It might have to be cleared annually. Good drainage is key to successful container gardens.

Sun, Shade & Drought Tolerance

Certain plants require more sunlight than others. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth a reminder. For this reason, it’s important to combine plants that like the same conditions. For example, ferns typically like shade and consistent moisture while succulents like sun and dry conditions so if you planted these together one or the other will not be happy. Knowing which plants have a higher affinity for light, shade or water will make your container much more successful. When you're picking out your plants take a look at our signs, they have all sorts of helpful information on them including light and soil requirements or ask one of our annual team members. They can help you with your container creations!


Spillers, Fillers and Thrillers

Pick out your favorite site-appropriate plants and follow the simple “thriller” (T), “filler” (F) and “spiller” (S) formula. Thrillers are the focal point of your container and while it's typically the tallest plant in the pot it doesn't have to be. It could also be the most eye-catching element with large showy flowers or interesting foliage.

Fillers are mid-height plants that add volume to your container. They complement the thriller color and contrast with its texture. Spillers cascade over the edge of the pot, soften the edges and help to unify the design by use of color or texture.



Linda Henry, Annual Sales and Container Design, has been with The Growing Place for 23 years and boy, does she know her way around containers. She recommends using potting soil, also called soilless mix, that is relatively lightweight not top soil for containers. The Growing Place Potting Mix is a soilless mix. She also suggests using liquid fertilizer every 3-4 water rotations. Don't forget to trim things back as needed, deadhead and remove spent flowers to encourage plants to bloom again. In addition, terracotta, wood, and some ceramic containers should be brought in from the cold every year. Freeze/thaws wear on the materials until they crack and splinter, but we have some time before we worry about that!

A Few of Our Favorite Container Combos

(S) – Spiller, (F) – Filler, (T) – Thriller

‘The Sun Lover’

This colorful combination loves full sun so don’t be afraid to let this one thrive outside this summer. Just be sure to monitor soil conditions and keep it well-watered. This container features a multi-liner of Proven Winner’s Bermuda Sky mix (F) (S) with a thriller of Juncus Blue Mohawk in the middle. Other ‘Sun-Loving’ plants include: Petunias (S), Calibrachoas (S), Cannas (T), Certain varieties of Coleus (T) and Dahlias (T).


‘A Shady Spot’

These shade-loving plants are hard not to love. So, if you’ve got a shady spot and you’re not sure what to do with it, consider this beautiful Begonia Whopper Greenleaf Rose and Scaevola Bombay Dark Blue (S) container. Or, we also have a beautiful Begonia Big Bronze Leaf Red (T) and Kimberly Fern (F) container that’s simply gorgeous. Bronze leaf Begonias bring a beautiful red hue that pairs nicely with green ferns or dark blues. Other 'shade-loving’ plants include: any of the upright Fuchsias, especially Gartenmeister (T)

‘Drought Tolerant’

You don’t have to worry about under-watering these guys, although you will still need to every once in a while. Succulents and various cacti make for beautiful ornamental containers that are eye-catching and conversation-worthy. We love these ‘Drought Tolerant’ plants: Aeonium Tip Top (T), Portulaca Happy Hour and Tropical Happy Hour Mix (S), Lemon Coral (S) and any of the succulents available in the annual and perennial departments. Mix them all together!

‘The Mini’

Miniature gardens are really the most fun as they let your imagination soar. Children and adults alike enjoy mini gardens be it a fairy garden, princess garden or even a dinosaur garden. Here, Container Designer Linda Henry has added Sedum Ogon (S) for color and some succulents as fillers. But Ferns and some Coleus work great too! You can also add large rocks and figurines for a creative touch.


‘The Pollinator’

We absolutely love Salvias for their ability to attract a plethora of pollinators, particularly bees and some butterflies. Salvias like Mystic Spires and Lady in Red make a great thriller. Butterflies love Pentas, which work well as a filler. In addition, we recommend Asclepias (T) and Verbena (S). Mix and match these varieties for different color combos.

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plantsĀ in right places.