Planted containers can add visual appeal to any style garden or outdoor setting. With some forethought and creativity (and sometimes courage to think outside your comfort zone) you can use planters to successfully add drama, help set moods, and even solve problems.

When adding planted containers to your landscape, patio or deck the color and shape of your planter(s) are the first thing to consider. Bright colors or unusual shapes can be used to add excitement and interest, while more subdue colors such as earth tones, blues and whites can contribute to creating a calmer atmosphere. If you goal is to add height by planting a tree or large shrub you will need a planter of suitable size.

When choosing your plants, do not rule out anything.  If you are looking to fill your container with a combination of plants consider following the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller formula.  The thriller is the tallest, and it can be anything from simply a taller –growing annual or perennial to a shrub with interesting color, texture or shape. The thriller could also be garden art such as a statue, garden sign, or even an obelisk. Don’t be afraid to get a little whimsical.  After all you can always change it if the look is not what you envisioned.  Keep the thriller in scale with your container, and then choose your fillers and spillers to work size and color wise.

Containers can have just one plant in them such as a hydrangea, miss huff lantana, camellia or large fern.  Make sure the colors of the container and shrub work well together, and the container is of adequate size. Keep in mind, over time the shrub will probably outgrow the container.  Sometimes you can remove the shrub and prune the roots back and replant it, or it may make more sense to plant the shrub in the yard, and get a new one for your container.

The same consideration for using shrubs in a container will apply to trees. Some common trees that can be successfully grown in containers are japans maples, smaller-growing crape myrtles, dwarf fruit trees, tree-form hydrangeas and roses, and evergreen such as emerald green arborvitaes.

When planting shrubs and trees in planters, you can still add annuals or spiller, but it is not necessary and often only distracts from the look you are trying to accomplish.

As always when planting in containers use a quality potting soil, provide consistent moisture, and make sure the planter can drain properly.

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