How To Choose Flowers for Your Container Garden

Our backyard with container gardening
Our backyard with container gardening

If you are like me, you can’t wait for the garden centres to open so that you can buy your new annuals and perennials for spring. Although I usually look forward to gardening season, this year, the season is more anticipated than ever since it will give us a chance to get outside into our backyards and focus on the outdoors instead of being cooped up indoors all day.

I have been keeping an eye on my local garden centre and they are setting up the fences and platforms so I imagine they should be open in about two weeks.

Although I love flower beds, I also love seeing container gardens, wih a variety of flowers and plants. I now have about six or seven ceramic pots in which I plant flowers and herbs and display them in a cluster on our patio.

Choose different-sized flowers for your container garden, photo credit congerdesign on Pixabay
Flower container, photo credit congerdesign on Pixabay

If you are new to container gardening, here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing flowers for your container garden.

Choose Flowers That Require Similar Sun Exposure

When you are planting three or four flower species in one container, make sure that they all require either full sun; partial sun and partial shade; or partial shade. If you place your container in a location that receives six hours of full sun and your container contains a flower that requires only a few hours of sun, that flower probably won’t survive.

Flowers That Require Full Sun

  • Zinnia, Geranium, Salvia, Dahlia, Verbena, Calendula, Alyssum, Petunia, African daisy, Heliotrope

Flowers That Grow in Partial Shade

  • Impatiens, begonia, coleus, hosta, larkspur, fuchsia
Our backyard with container gardening
Our backyard with container gardening

Choose These Three Types of Flowers

Many container gardeners choose a thriller, filler and spiller flower to create a container with a lot of visual appeal.

Thriller Flowers

These flowers are attention-seeking showstoppers…the Leos of the garden! They typically are taller, and have larger blooms and will be the centerpiece of your container.

Examples: Geranium, Dahlia, Hydrangea, Papyrus, Canna lily, Snapdragon

Filler Flowers

These flowers typically have smaller blooms and will fill out your container.

Examples: Salvia, Verbena, Begonia, African daisy, Gerbera daisy, Dwarf dahlia, Petunia

Spiller Flowers

Spiller flowers do exactly as their name indicates: they spill over the edge of your container.

Examples: Creeping zinnia, Wave or Cascading petunia, Lobelia, Trailing begonia, Sweet Potato vine, Ivy geranium

Flower Colour Combinations for Containers

When choosing colour combinations for your container, you might want to keep in mind complementary colour combinations or primary colour combinations such as the following:
Blue and yellow
Red and yellow
Purple and orange
Deep purple, lilac and lime green

The following colour combinations also look great together:

Fuchsia, pink, lime green and dark green
Yellow, burgundy, purple and periwinkle blue
Pink, deep hot pink, orange and yellow-orange
Medium blue, light blue, yellow-orange and medium green
Red, purple, lilac and deep pink
Red, pink and white

I hope you now have a better idea about how to choose flowers for your container garden.

You might be interested in reading, “Best Flowers, Shrubs and Vegetables for Your East Facing Garden“.



  1. I’m so happy it’s spring. We have just started planting flower seedlings a few weeks ago and already see them growing. Thanks for the color combinations, I will keep these in mind!

    • I am so happy it’s spring too! It must be warmer where you are because we can’t plant in Toronto just yet, although it’s starting to warm up! Happy gardening! Lori

  2. My mom loves flowers so much and she has rose and sunflower to her garden. These flowers looks so beautiful I love combination color.

  3. I got so many empty milk containers here, and I am thinking of using them as an indoor pot for the following plants. Thanks for this list of easy to grow flowers.

  4. Nice article! I have two hydrangeas (one purple variety and the other one is pink). I think having fillers and spillers would be nice! Thanks for the idea. I will be working on this soon.

  5. Plants lend instant color, provide a focal point in the garden, or tie in the architecture of the house to the garden. Place them on the ground or on a pedestal, mount them on a windowsill, or hang them from your porch. A pair of matching containers on either side of the front walk serves as a welcoming decoration, while container gardening on a deck or patio can add color and ambiance to such outdoor sitting areas.

  6. Great tips! I admit I’m partial to lilies and iris flowers, but my favorite is bird of paradise. Ours just bloomed this week!

  7. This is very timely and relevant. Being quarantined allowed me to have enough time to start gardening and aside from vegetables, I’d like to have a flower garden as well. Thank you for sharing these tips. Can’t wait to get started. 🙂

  8. This is super helpful! We are wanting to plant more flowers this year and I am so torn on what to plant!

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