Container Gardens with Pizzazz | Midwest Living
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Container Gardens with Pizzazz

Horticulturist Gail Estka considers containers an art form in her Illinois yard. See how she creates drama with tropical plants and trees as well as texture, foliage and color schemes.

Welcoming entrance

A welcoming committee of colorful blossoms and foliage flanks a side door. Pots brim with spineless yucca, croton, ageratum, marigolds and coleus; a hanging basket spills over with verbena ‘Bright Eyes’ and Wave petunias.

Hang ups

Gail uses aggressive spreaders like creeping Jenny in pots and hanging baskets where the foliage adds lushness but is kept in bounds. 

Welcoming entrance

A welcoming committee of colorful blossoms and foliage flanks a side door. Pots brim with spineless yucca, croton, ageratum, marigolds and coleus; a hanging basket spills over with verbena ‘Bright Eyes’ and Wave petunias.

Mass appeal

Grouped containers create a privacy screen for al fresco dining. 

Air time

Metal orbs give air plants (bromeliads) an unexpected lift.

Triple play

Follow this three-part plan for lush containers. Begin with a “thriller,” an upright star player such as this calla lily. Next, add in one or two complementary “fillers,” which can include foliage or flowering plants like lantana and geraniums. Finish with a “spiller”—in this case livingstone daisy ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’—that cascades over the edge. 

Upward bound

Trees add vertical interest to container gardens; here evergreen podocarpus teams with vinca and petunias. Gail over-winters some trees, but says it’s often cheaper to pot a tree—even if it survives only one season—than to fill a container with annuals.

Shear style

Moss rose and corkscrew grass make for a whimsical updo. 

More on container gardens

Click the links below for more container garden inspirations.

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