Plant Combination Ideas for Container Gardens

by Fern on January 28, 2009

in Birds Bees & Butterflies,Fruits & Vegetables,Herbs,Popular

We all know that–for most people–it’s less stressful if you plan your container garden in advance. But what if you’re drawing a blank when it comes to plants that might look good together? Below I’ve tried to put together a bunch of ideas to help get your creative gardening juices flowing.

Red Hot Hummingbird Magnet:

Scarlet Runner Bean, Monarda (Bee Balm), and Pineapple Sage

This is great for a long planter in front of a lattice (and thus makes it great for providing privacy!). Sow two scarlet runner beans each in three holes evenly spaced along the back of the planter, near the lattice. When the runner beans have sprouted and established themselves, plant one pineapple sage plant on each side of the planter. Plant several monarda (the exact number will depend on the size of your planter) in front of the scarlet runner beans. If you still aren’t attracting hummingbirds (which seems highly unlikely!) try hanging a hummingbird feeder in the planter.

Sweet and Juicy Apple Orchard:

Sentinel Apple, Basil, Tagetes Marigold and Chives

To make sure your apple trees bear fruit, be sure to plant two of these containers (apples need another tree near by to cross-pollinate with). In the back of a large half-barrel-sized pot, plant a Sentinel Apple (sometimes also called a columnar apple). Around the apple, plant three chive plants. The chives are really important, as they help prevent apple scab (which is bad news for your tree). Around the chives, plant a dwarf variety of basil. Finally, in between the basil plants, tuck in tagetes marigolds. If you have the room, two of these pots would look great flanking your front or back door.

Super Easy, Super Beautiful, Super Classy:

Hyacinth Bean Vine and Jewel Nasturtium Mix

This planting is really easy, but will look as beautiful as a more difficult to achieve container. Start off with a medium-sized square container and a pyramid or cone shaped decorative trellis. Fill the pot with dirt and then place the trellis firmly in place in the center of the pot. Plant several Hyacinth Bean Vine seeds just inside the trellis so that the plants will be able to grow up the trellis. Around the outside of the trellis, near the edge of the pot, sow Jewel Nasturtium Mix seeds. When the plants are mature, you’ll have a beautiful tower of purple flowers and beans with happy little nasturtiums in many jewel-tones around the base.

Drought Tolerant, But Still Good Looking:

Variegated American Agave and Pink Ice Plant

Choose a brightly colored glazed pot. Blue would look great! In the center of the pot, plant one large Variegated American Agave smack dab in the center of the pot. Around the edge, plant six small ice plants, evenly spaced. The ice plants will spill over the edge and make the leaves of the agave look like flames from a fire.

If this post was helpful, you might also like the follow-up post I wrote with even more plant combinations.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Genevieve January 28, 2009 at 7:58 am

Love the combos, Fern! They are gorgeous!


prue January 28, 2009 at 2:51 pm

that red one at the beginning is totally ace! Love it. I’m only up to the basil/tomato combo but these mixes are really inspirational – though given the current weather maybe i should opt for your drought resistant ideas!


Jen January 29, 2009 at 6:02 am

I love your plant combo ideas. I’m very excited to learn about the Sentinal apple! I havent’ attempted apples because of the pollination issue, but this place is selling two varieties that pollinate each other! Also looking for a fig (dwarf?) that is good in zone 6 – have you come across anything? Also love the hyacinth bean/nasturtium idea!


Fern January 30, 2009 at 12:48 am

Gen — Thanks

Prue — Let me know if you try any of them. I’d be interested to know how they work out down under!

Jen — After some preliminary research, I’ve found out that ‘Brown Turkey’ (hardy to zone 5), ‘Brunswick’ (found someone in Vancouver who has grown it successfully), and ‘Blue Celeste’ (zone 6) are the hardiest figs. Although there are other varieties that are hardy to zone 7 that you might be able to grow if you protected them in the winter or grew them in containers and brought indoors. I also came across several sites that said if a fig is killed because of the cold weather, new shoots will come up from the roots.


Eliza March 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for the wonderful information! My husband and I are starting our first container garden this year in May and for some reason I got it in my head 3 apple trees would be awesome to have in the little area on the side of the apartment right before you reach the gate that leads to our front door. We live in a duplex so the ability to transport our garden in the future is a must.


Fern March 25, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Eliza — You have one of my favorite names. :-) Your apple trees sound great, it was a good idea to get more than one, your apple production will be better that way. I hope you’ll join our Flickr group and share photos of your trees.


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