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Cherry’s Colorful Containers

A frequent contributor to Garden Photo of the Day shares some of her container creations

reader container with red flowers and orange foliage

We’ve visited Cherry Ong’s garden several times on Garden Photo of the Day, and we know she’s amazingly talented. (Refresh your memory HERE.) For the next two days we’re going to focus on some of her best container creations.

She says, “First, I’d like to thank you and your amazing contributors for sharing all their gardens with us around the world. Great work everyone! I’m excited that gardening season has begun and that we can decorate our yards and decks with colorful containers and hanging baskets.

“I look to many local nurseries, malls, and neighborhoods (anywhere really) for inspiration every day. I thought I would share some of my previous concoctions for the last few years. Half of these pictures were made for my friend Sylvia (Cheng). I say gardening is twice as fun with a friend! Please enjoy!”

Cherry sent in so many great containers that I couldn’t fit them all into one day. Stay tuned for another inspirational batch tomorrow—this time hanging baskets and window boxes!

container with various colorful foliage

light blue container with purple foliage plants

container with pink flowers and foliage

black container with orange foliage and blue flowers

container with various colorful foliage plants

container with green and dark purple foliage plants

container with ornamental grass and purple foliage

container with orange flowers and ornamental cabbage


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Previous: Change a Space with Seasonal Containers Next: Cherry’s Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes
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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/10/2013

    Hi, Cherry, all your container plantings are beautiful and make me want to go out and be a little more adventuresome with some of my combinations. It looks like you put definite thought into playing off the colors of the pot itself which results in a very harmonious effect. You and your friend, Sylvia, must have a lot of fun working on these together.
    You're obviously a big fan of coleus and I wonder if you could share your growing techniques with it. Do you do a lot of frequent cutting back to keep it from getting lanky? How do you feel about letting it go to flower?
    Anyway, love them all and looking forward to tomorrow's installment!

  2. cwheat000 06/10/2013

    Cherry, you are a talented designer. They are all great creations. Some of my favorite touches are the Chinese lanterns in the fall container, the blue lobelia paired with the orange sedona coleus, and the texture of the gold evergreen in the mixed pot of coleus. What is the silver plant in the front of the container, 3 rd picture down in the left column (sea foam artemesia)?

  3. tractor1 06/10/2013

    Interesting creations... only thing missing is labeling... I like the irridescent blue flowers in the last photo on the left but I don't recognize that one. I think the red flowers in the first photo on the left(bird of paradise?)is past its prime, otherwise a nice arrangement... only next time choose a better back drop than a the utility meter and garbage cans. And I think the Chinese lanterns with ornamental kale really makes that last photo on the right. I noticed the makeshift shims under the pots, wheeled dollys would be more attractive... and next time choose a sunny day, a lot is lost in shadow.

  4. user-1020932 06/10/2013

    nice combos! to give you a full season of color and texture. the canna in the first photo is not past it's prime it just has some faded flowers hanging on as they always do.i see pot feet under almost all the pots except the one that had to be placed on a concrete seam in order to keep it level in keeping it out of the way of the garage door. i think they are all great,,,i'm with meander1 in asking about your coleus maintenance, i get weary of pinching off flowers then they get all woody/stringy and un attractive. great job! the irridescent blue lobelia is striking, i don't have much luck with it here in the heat of summer, maybe i love it to death with water, i dont' know

  5. darylsavage 06/10/2013

    Beautiful combos; definitely my style with more foliage than flowers, makes for bold, low-maintenance pots for those of us who do a lot, and need some things to be low-maintenance. Just did a container for a customer at my job, and she requested no petunias, yeah!

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/10/2013

    Awesome. It's so fun that coleus have gone from being a blah plant when I was a kid to a festival of colors and forms. It looks like "Henna" is in the first container? I saw it when someone here shared photos of Butchart Gardens and I spent hour searching online for the name. Just got it for a container this spring and love it so far. Thanks for sharing your beautiful creations!

  7. MichelleGervais 06/10/2013

    Tim (Vojt), have you heard of It's a great tool for identifying a coleus or finding one that fits your design needs. I use it all the time.

  8. sheila_schultz 06/10/2013

    How appropriate to see your lovely containers as I am on my way to the nursery to pick up more plants for my containers! Cherry, I've always enjoyed your sense of color and design when it comes to containers, and I especially like your use of foliage... coleus in particular. It's such a fabulous plant to work with, flowers are almost boring in comparison! My new fave is Colorblaze 'Keystone Kopper', it makes 'Sedona' look almost washed out!
    Like darylsavage mentioned, coleus are a low maintenance, blast of color for clients. Meander1, you asked about pinching... I pinch mine down to a leaf-set whenever they are larger than I want for my designs. So many are really large, so there isn't much of a choice. I also always remove the flowers, but that is just a personal preference.

  9. MichelleGervais 06/10/2013

    I pinch my coleus back several times in spring to bush them out, and then religiously pinch out the flowers until I just can't bear to do it anymore, usually when the rest of the garden is looking autumnally seedy anyway. Pinching the flowers, in my experience, not only keeps them tidier but also keeps the foliage brighter longer.

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/10/2013

    Thanks for the coleus finder website. Awesome. I fastidiously pinch out all coleus flowers as well. Sometimes I'll whack them back a bit if too big or encroaching other plants. Sometimes the paper delivery people do the whacking for me!

  11. ancientgardener 06/10/2013

    Beautiful container gardens, Cherry. Love all the coleus. I found a very unusual, flamboyant one with huge curling leaves at the nursery and now I cannot find the marker so don't know the name. That's what happens when you are 85. Anyhow, it's looking gorgeous on my screened porch where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Your pot with the lobelia and sedona coleus is breathtaking. I'm with treeman. My lobelia always fails me along about the first of August. I've tried everything - more water, less water - shade - sun - all to no avail and it's one of my favorites. I live near Niagara Falls and the Canadians have beautiful gardens on their side of the falls. Their hanging containers, lush with lobelia, leave me green with envy. If you have any advice, Cherry, do share it with us.

  12. perenniallycrazy 06/10/2013

    What a nice surprise after a stressful day - a big thank you you everyone!

    Meander1: I follow all the tips that FG recommends for coleus maintenance: pinch off all flowers (I feel that it detracts from the leaves which are the best feature of the plant), cut them back if they are disproportionate in size to the thrillers. I try to be careful not to overwater them in the beginning of container season and I've learned that at the expense of some (sadly)

    cwheat000: The silver plant in the photo is Calocephalus Brownii or Silver Bush It is a beautiful addition to any container any season of the year in these parts.

    tractor1: Sorry about the photo errors - I was in my friend's neighborhood, on a bike and used a cell phone to take photos. No shears in my bike to trim the dead flowers. I asked Sylvia about the shim and her hubby put it there to keep the pot from tipping over. Per the plant labeling, Sylvia and I have agreed to a budget to her containers so we head out to the corner store and pick out what fits our budget. Fortunately, they have coleus priced at $1 each but no label. Promise to do better next time.

    tntreeman: I love lobelia as there are not many true blue flowers in the world. I find that the summers here in Vancouver, BC are cooler, probably because of our location, so that the lobelia thrive longer and mostly throughout the summer. I find that they do die back in August especially if the container is in a hot location though shaded. I try to find varieties that are more sun tolerant.

    vojt, Sheila_Schultz and Michelle: Thanks for the coleus tips. Always open to them.

    ancientgardener: Welcome to the group! Like I mentioned to tntreeman, I think the lobelia's longevity owes to the cool summers here. Vancouver summers are hardly ever humid and maybe that is the secret. I do ensure that they are watered daily and not in a hot location. I think we'll have to ask the plant manufacturers to hybridize a sun-loving one!

    Plant List (Partial and Generic for Some with My Apologies)

    Picture 1 (Top left): Canna, Coleus x 2, Dusty Miller x 3, Moneywort (Lysimachia) Midnight Sun x 1

    Picture 2: Canna, Coleus x 2, Dusty Miller x 3, Sweet Caroline Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas) x 1

    Picture 3: Dusty Miller, Coleus, Silver Bush (Calocephalus Brownii), Pipa's Red Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense 'Pipa's Red') [Evergreen perennial], St. John's Wort (Hypericum androsaemum), Burgundy Glow Ajuga reptans (Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow) and Pinecone

    Picture 4: Gartenmeier Fushcia, Dusty Miller, Coleus x 2 (Green & Orange), Trailing Coleus (Painted Nettle 'Swinging Linda' (Solenostemon pumilus))

    Picture 5 (Top Right): Thuja Forever Goldy (Thuja plicata 4ever Goldy) Freckles Coleus (Solenstemon scutellaroides Freckles), Black Prince Coleus (Solenstemon scutellaroides Black Prince), Diamond Heights California Lilac (Ceanothus grisens var horizontalis 'Diamond Heights') - trailing perennial with lime-green foliage with dark pine-green detail down the spine of the leaf (Zone 8 10-20 degrees F, Sun to partial shade and great for mild coastal gardens)

    Picture 6: Coleus Envy, Japanese Forest Grass, Golden Creeping Jenny, Trailing Burgundy Coleus

    Picture 7: Miscanthus Morning Light Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'),Dusty Miller (Artemesia stelleriana), Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina, Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’) Purple Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus purpuratus)

    Picture 8: Chinese lantern plant x 1, Kale x 3, Orange Mum x 1

  13. cwheat000 06/11/2013

    Cherry, thank you for all the plant info. The silver bush is a new one to me. I looked it up and it does look like a great plant. Also, now that I know those containers were done on a budget, they are even more impressive. Well done!

  14. perenniallycrazy 06/11/2013

    Ooops, can't count. Missed the bottom container on the left side: Dusty Miller, Sedona Coleus x 2, Lobelia Techno Heat Electric Blue x 2

    Plants We Usually Recycle in Containers: All perennials (hence they are chosen as thrillers), Dusty Miller (hardy in these winters and have an innate ability to brighten up any fall or winter container)

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