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By Bill Marken, Suzanne DeJohn, The Editors of the National Gardening Association

Part of Container Gardening For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Combining the right plants with the right container can make for a traffic-stopping display. Follow these guidelines for creating container plantings that suit your style:

  • Choose a combination of tall plants (thrillers), shrubby plants (fillers), and trailing plants (spillers).

  • Select plants with contrasting forms — tall and spiky, gently arching, soft and flowing.

  • Choose plants based on the mood you want to set. Flowers in bright, hot colors like fuchsia, fire-engine red, and blazing orange will energize a planting. Cool colors like periwinkle blue and lilac set a calm, relaxed mood.

  • Use various shades of a single color, like pastel pink to deep rose, to create a unified yet still interesting display.

  • Create contrast between colors. Foliage plants with silvery and chartreuse leaves provide a perfect backdrop for brightly colored flowers. White and pale colors make dark plants pop and are luminous in the moonlight.

  • Add height to your containers by growing vines on trellises.

  • Use plant stands and hanging baskets to bring plants up to eye level.

  • Add attractive edibles, such as purple basil and tricolor sage, to decorative containers.