Container gardening flowers are a must for outdoor summer planters. Whether you’re looking to fill hanging baskets, window boxes, small, or a large pots, you’ll find tons of options on this list of the best flowers for container gardening.
Well, that is exactly why I created this list. Below I will share my top picks for the best flowers for container gardening.
I will also give you tips for how to determine the right ones for your specific situation. For example, choosing the best sizes, colors, and combos.
What Flowers Grow Best In Containers?
Here are some tips for choosing the best flowers for container gardening. With them, you’ll be able to pick out the ones that will look great in any planter you have.
- Proportionate size – Use varieties that will be proportionate to the container once they’re fully grown. Too tall can look clumsy or crowded. Too small will look silly, they’ll struggle to become established, and may not fully fill in the pot by the end of summer.
- Sun exposure – Make sure you know how much sun they will get, and buy the proper ones for that exposure. For example, putting those that prefer shade in the full sun will only result in disappointment.
- Complimentary colors – You don’t want anything to clash or be too busy, so make sure to use ones that will compliment or match both the pot and the other flowers you use.
- Less is more – Don’t get carried away and use too many different varieties in one planter. It will look busy or overgrown, and they will struggle during the hot summer months once they become pot-bound.
- Similar care – If you’re planning to combine more than one type of flower in the same container garden, make sure they have similar care requirements. For example, combining moisture lovers with those that prefer dry soil will only end in frustration.
17 Best Flowers For Container Gardening
Below is my list of the best flowers for container gardening. These are some of my favorites, and they are equally stunning alone or combined with others.
Browse through and choose the ones you want to try in your summer pots and planters this year.
With a wide range of varieties, geraniums are one of the most popular container garden flowers out there. So much so that some people think they are overdone.
But they come with some amazing foliage these days, which makes them gorgeous even when they’re not blooming – so who can resist?
They blossom from late spring through summer, and get between 12-18” tall. Place them somewhere sunny, and they’ll reward you with constant color all season long.
With tall flower spikes and bold blooms, gladiolus do really well in large planters and mixed container gardens.
They enjoy the heat, and need full sun. How tall they get depends on which type you have. Some are as short as 6”, and others can reach 3’.
The best part is that, if you live in a cold climate, you can overwinter the bulbs and reuse them year after year without spending any extra cash.
Known for their cold hardiness, pansies are popular flowers to use in winter and early spring container gardens. Most have more than one color on their petals.
You’ll find them in dark red, orange, pale yellow, light blue, or even purple. Since they only reaching 6-12”, they’re perfect for shallow bowls or mixed plantings.
They tend to burn out by mid-summer. Keep them out of the hot sun once the weather warms up so they’ll last longer.
Another one of my favorites, dianthus comes in many different hues and patterns. Some are solid, while others have streaks or rings on the petals.
Preferring full sun, they do best in zones 6-9. They don’t get very tall, usually reaching 6-12”, which makes them a good filler for any mixed planter.
5. Dwarf Zinnia
With petals that form in layers and look like pom poms, dwarf zinnias are popular flowers used in container gardening because they stay small.
Unlike their full-sized relatives, these only get about 18-36″ tall. You’ll find them in a wide range of colors, like pink, orange, yellow, red, and white.
These bright annuals bask in the heat and sunshine, and do really well in almost any climate. Learn how to care for them here.
6. Pot Carnation
Known for the showy blossoms, pot carnations looks just as stunning in a planter by themselves as they do when combined with others.
Specifically bred for container gardening, these cute little flowers only get to be 12-18″ tall. They need full sun, and bloom from late spring until early fall.
Commonly called Peter’s Gold Carpet, bidens have five yellow petals. The fact that they are drought tolerant and stay fairly small (about 12-18”) makes them perfect for outdoor pots and planters.
The fragrant blooms open repeatedly from late summer until early winter. They prefer warm weather, and need a sunny location.
If blues and purples are your favorite, then check out lobelias. What they lack in height they make up for in fullness.
Usually only reaching 6” tall, these superb container garden flowers have a sprawling habit. This means they will spill over the top of the pot, making them excellent for hanging baskets.
Also known as million bells, calibrachoas look like small petunias. These small flowers are great in window boxes and hanging baskets by themselves, or when used as spillers in mixed container gardens.
They need full sun in order to fill out, and will reach 6-12” in height. Best of all, they come in a rainbow of colors – dark reds to bright yellows, or even orange, purple, and white.
If showiness is your goal, then check out mums, also known as chrysanthemums. Since they are late bloomers and can handle frost, they’re commonly used in fall planters.
With a preference for full sun, they’ll tolerate part shade. Since they can reach about 18-24”, they’ll nicely fill any pot.
A wonderful container gardening flower that also adds shape and dimension is the celosia (aka cockscomb).
Some have cone-shaped spikes in bright yellow, red, and orange that look like flames. While others have more of a rounded shape with cool patterns that remind me of coral.
These annuals thrive in many climates, and have fuzzy velvet blossoms. Usually reaching 6-12”, they need full sun.
Also known as antirrhinums, snapdragons have tall spikes that are covered in blossoms. They come in lots of colors, with red, orange, yellow, lavender, or near-white being the most popular.
When given a full day of sunshine, the stems will reach 12-18”. This frost-tolerant annual is ideal if you want to fill your outdoor pots from early spring through late fall.
One of the most decorative container flowers on this list is the dahlia. There are a bunch to choose from. Some have tiny 2-inch pom poms, and others get larger “dinner plate” blooms that span 15” across.
The most common are purple, pink, yellow, or white. They will reach 3-4’ tall, and prefer full sun. As a bonus, you can dig up the tubers, store them for winter, then replant again next spring.
The fuschia has one of the most unique nicknames on this list – Lady’s Eardrops. Their name isn’t the only unique thing, they have long stamens that stick out from the bright purple, white, and pink petals.
Most commonly found in hanging baskets, you can also use them as spillers in combined plantings. They don’t like the heat, so put them in a place where they’ll receive some shade to protect them from the sun.
15. Gerber Daisy
Another flower that performs very well in pots and container gardens are gerber daisies. They come in just about any color you can think of. Most commonly pink, red, orange, and yellow.
These cheery annuals bloom repeatedly, and prefer warm weather and full sun. Most varieties will reach 6-12”, but some can be as tall as 18”.
With solid or bicolor blossoms from mid-summer through fall, verbenas are popular to use in outdoor pots.
Since they are fairly tall (3-4′), they make great thrillers in a mixed planter, and are equally dramatic by themselves. They prefer full sun, but do well in dappled or partial shade as well.
17. Sweet Alyssum
Known for their petite buds, alyssum also has a sweet fragrance. This adorable annual is drought tolerant, so it’s perfect for use in summer pots in hot areas.
It’s fairly short, reaching only 6” at most, and prefers full sun. The tiny flowers create poofs on long stems that look fantastic spilling over the top of containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
You can’t go wrong with any of these container gardening flowers. Whether you want to create gorgeous combinations, or keep them in their own pots, choosing any of these will result in stunning summer planters.
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Share your favorite flowers for container gardening in the comments section below.