Grouping Pots Outdoors

When arranging a group of pots consider the aspect and choose plants accordingly. Also create a pleasing overall shape and choose a mix of plants to give height and width, and to tumble over the edges.

So long as you choose plants that like your position, you should end up with a pleasant effect.

Most flowering plants suited to growing in pots love a sunny spot, so in this case you should have no trouble in creating a colourful corner. For partial shade your choice will be more limited, but some flowering plants that should oblige are Day Lilies, fuchsia, primula, campanula, begonia, pansies, and geum.

If the area is in shade all the time then planning is more difficult. Choose hypericum (yellow), tiarella (pinky white), tradescantia (blue), Busy Lizzie (pink and red). For interesting leaf colour pick ivies, hosta, and coleus.

Planning the groupGrouping Pots Outdoors

Pots all in the same material but in a variety of shapes look very effective grouped. Tall pots, at the back, can hold larger shrubs or even trees, and smaller pots of annuals can give constant colour as those past their best can be replaced.

Create a similar effect with pots of the same size by using those at the back for climbers and those at the front for trailing plants.

Use leftover bricks or paving slabs to form plinths of varying heights in a group. A window box on a ground floor sill could create another level, as could hanging baskets.

Round the year interest Include some evergreens in the group so that even in winter there is a backdrop of greenery.

Usually the best effects are created by sticking to some sort of colour scheme.

Tones of one colour from its palest to its deepest hues can be very striking Add white to a single colour and the colour will be highlighted. Blend colours like pink and blue or yellow and orange to create a harmonious effect. Contrast colours so that each stands out strongly: blue and yellow, purple and orange, red just with green.

Colour combinations

Containers come in many materials, sizes, shapes and colours. Plastic is usually the cheapest. It dries out less quickly than clay but will not keep roots as cool. It discolours in the sun but can be painted. Terracotta pots come in some beautiful shapes and blend well with brick and stone. Line them with polythene (make drainage holes) to reduce drying out. If you leave them outside check they are frost resistant. Wood tubs need to be treated with preservative harmless to plants to reduce rot. Alternatively paint to match outside colour scheme.

  • Metal baths, basins, buckets, even dustbins make attractive plant containers when painted.
  • Bore holes in the base for drainage.
  • Concrete (not suitable for limehating plants) is cheap and porous. Ceramic pots cannot be left outdoors during the winter.

Round the year interest


Early bulbs: Snowdrops, Crocus, Narcissus, Chionodoxa, Scilla. Later bulbs: Hyacinth and Grape klyacinth, Daffodils, Narcissus. Others: Polyanthus, Aubretia, Wallflowers, Camellia, Witch Hazel.


General: Fuchsia, Tobacco Plants, Geraniums and Pelargoniums, Lilies, Godetia, Petunias, Pinks Climbers (annual): Sweet Pea, Nasturtium, Cup and Saucer Vine.

Trailers: Ivy-leafed Geraniums, Lobelia.


Aster and China Aster, Chrysanthemum.

All year greenery

Mind-your-own-business, Kochia, Daisy Bush, Privet (green and golden), Heathers, Ivy, Rosemary and Bay.

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