Bring life to your patio with container gardens of terra-cotta pots and violet hues.

Two features define Kathy Manganaro's container garden philosophy. She uses all terra-cotta pots for a cohesive, timeless look, and she leans into leaves—especially purple ones.

"Flowers come and go," the St. Louis-area gardener says, "but foliage packs a punch the whole season." This container is her recipe for big color in a shady spot.

Purple State Container Garden
Credit: Bob Stefko

1: Areca Palm

Sold as houseplants, these frond-tastic palms are natives of Madagascar and prefer well-drained pots and partial shade or bright, indirect light. Other names: golden cane palm, butterfly palm or yellow palm. Height: 6-7'.

2: Rex Begonia

Rex means king—but actually hundreds of royally beautiful hybrids occupy this throne, with high-drama splotches and veining. (This pot features two.) Take care not to overwater. Height: 12-18".

3: Caladium

This elephant ear has sweet heart-shape leaves and comes in combinations of pink, white, red and green. The plant's tubers can be overwintered for next season. Height: 12-30".

4: Purple Shamrock

This houseplant's triangular leaves add spark to outdoor pots—and they easily out-purple most flowers (including its own pale, petite blooms). Height: 6-12".

5: Variegated Ivy

Control English ivy's invasive tendencies by using it as a trailing accent in pots. Bright, indirect light is best; cuttings easily propagate. Height: 6-8".

Pro Tip

Tropical houseplants add scale and impact to outdoor containers. To save money, Kathy Manganaro repots hers to overwinter indoors, then uses them outside again.