Unique Spring-Container Design Ideas

Fine Gardening – Issue 216
spring container design

When the bulbs first start breaking through the ground in spring, it’s easy to focus all our energy on our garden beds. After all, there are edges to sharpen, holes to fill, and general cleanup to undertake. But now is also a good time to refresh those sad-looking containers. At this point the evergreen boughs have likely turned brown and the festive berry branches have been picked clean by the birds. The following recipes from Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, offer a bit of inspiration for those dreary pots and utilize a unique assortment of plants.


Take stock of the surroundings

spring container with red flowers and green foliage plants
Photo: Lynn Felici-Gallant

illustration of Take stock of the surroundings spring container

Think about where you will place your planter before digging into the design. Take stock of the area and the way plants will complement or conflict with colors and textures in view. This arrangement and the placement of the planter marry well with the cherry and magnolia in the distance.

—Designed by Doug Croft

  1. Willowleaf cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolius, Zones 6–8)
  2. Bellissima™ Red English daisy (Bellis perennis ‘Bellissima Red’, Zones 4–8)
  3. ‘Winter Joy’ wallflower (Erysimum ‘Winter Joy’, annual)
  4. Flying Colors® Trailing Antique Rose diascia (Diascia ‘Diastu’, annual)


Simple can be beautiful

tall spring containers with yellow tulips and pink flowers
Photo: Lynn Felici-Gallant

illustration of Simple can be beautiful spring container

This combination uses only two tones: gold and pink. The cut stems of smoke tree balance out the height of the planters, while the soft yellow tulips and shocking pink wallflower pick up the simple corresponding colors in the garden.

—Designed by Jonathan Wright

  1. Smoke tree stems (Cotinus coggygria cv., Zones 5–9)
  2. Yellow Cubed™ mix tulips (Tulipa cvs., Zones 4–8)
  3. ‘Winter Joy’ wallflower


Good enough to eat

spring container with edible plants
Photo: Michelle Gervais

spring container Good enough to eat illustrated

This container is not only ornamental but also entirely edible. Wispy bronze fennel weaves its way through pak choi and monkey flower, the leaves and blooms of which were once common in salads. The arrangement is perfect for a tabletop—whether it is to be consumed or not.

—Designed by Jonathan Wright

  1. Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare* ‘Purpureum’, Zones 4–9)
  2. ‘White Blotch’ monkey flower (Mimulus ‘White Blotch’, annual)
  3. ‘Violetta’ pak choi (Brassica rapa var. chinensis ‘Violetta’, annual)


Tip: Herbs and leafy vegetables need to be harvested even when they are planted in a pot. Don’t worry about the design, though. The plants will respond by sending out fresh—and tasty—new leaves and edible flowers throughout the season.


Soften the edges

tiered spring container with pink flowers and spiky foliage
Photo: Michelle Gervais

spring container Soften the edges illustrated

From the bluestone vessel to the peastone dressing, this container is a contradiction that works. Soft, jewel-toned flowers and airy Mexican feather grass juxtapose nicely with the sharp thorns of a barrel cactus and the hard edges of stone in an unorthodox yet effective combination.

—Designed by Lisa Roper

  1. Persian lily (Fritillaria persica, Zones 6–8)
  2. ‘Mirabelle Improved’ wallflower (Erysimum ‘Mirabelle Improved’, annual)
  3. ‘W. P. Milner’ daffodil (Narcissus ‘W. P. Milner’, Zones 3–9)
  4. Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima, Zones 7–11)
  5. Barrel cactus (Ferocactus sp., Zone 11)

*Invasive Alert:

Sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

This plant is considered invasive in CA, OR, WA, and WV.

Please visit for more information.

Illustrations: Elara Tanguy


Find more spring container inspiration:

Spring Containers for Every Style

Welcome Spring with These Container Designs

Great Container Plants for Spring

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