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Easy Spring Container Garden Plantings

By: Sherri RibbeySherri Ribbey
Try some of these easy spring containers! They're perfect for brightening up entries, patios and borders with cheery blooms and fabulous foliage.

Get instant color with spring containers

Spring containers are an easy solution for jazzing up drab decks and boring entries this time of year. And they’re so easy to care for! Most years spring has plentiful rain, so you won’t need to water much and there’s no need to fertilize if you just plan on growing these plants for spring color. Visit the garden center and you’ll find loads of cool-season beauties that you don’t have to be afraid to set outdoors. Most can take a light frost (when temperatures get down to 29 to 32 degrees F) with ease and provide cheerful color until things start warming up for summer. Now let’s take a look at six beautiful spring container designs that you can use to fill your pots.

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Spring container with ranunculus and pansy: Group several small plants close together to get this full look right away!

Make ranunculus the star

When you're shopping for flowering plants to fill your spring containers look for plants in 4- or 6-in. diameter pots, already in bud, combine them in one container and you’re set for weeks of color. This combo should last a month or more if you keep it watered and the temps stay in the 35 to 65 degrees F range.

You may find some of these plants, such as the violas and English daisies, in smaller pots or even multi-packs. Don’t wait for them to grow. Group several young plants close together to get this full look immediately. That also makes it easy to adjust the size of this group to fit any container.

Container care tips

  • Grow in full sun to part shade — the color holds best with afternoon shade.
  • Keep soil moist but not wet and allow it to dry out between waterings.
  • Snip off English daisies, Persian buttercups and violas as they fade. Not only will deadheading keep the container looking good, it encourages more flowers, too.
  • It’s not necessary to remove spent flowers on the baby’s breath — this plant keeps right on blooming.
    Planting diagram for spring container with ranunculus, baby's breath, english daisy and pansies

Container plant list

A) Persian buttercup Ranunculus asiaticus ‘Bloomingdale Golden Shades’ (1)
B) Viola Viola cornuta pendula ‘Rebelina Purple & Yellow’ (1)
C) English daisy Bellis perennis ‘Galaxy Rose’ (1)
D) Baby’s breath Gypsophila muralis ‘Gypsy White’ (1)
Container is 14 in. square

Spring container with wallflower, alyssum, and pansies: Soft and sweet describes the fragrance from this pretty pot.

Fragrant spring container

If you’d like a container with a fragrance that won’t overwhelm, try this container filled with softly scented spring plants. The star of this group is the vibrant yellow-orange wallflower. It’s a biennial, so be sure to buy plants that are budded and ready to flower-they'll soon share their sweet scent along with the violas and sweet alyssum.

Care tips

  • Warmer temperatures usually mean violas and wallflower are done. But sweet alyssum and stipa grass can make it through summer to thrive again in fall's cooler weather.
  • Sweet alyssum gets leggy in the heat but you can cut stems back by one-third and get another round of its pretty fragrant blooms.
  • Stipa grass can be moved to the garden in fall if you live in USDA zones 6 to 9, where it’s a cold-hardy.

Planting diagram for wallflower, pansy and alyssum container

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Wallflower Erysimum Citrona™ Orange (1)
B) Stipa grass Anemanthele lessoniana ‘Sirocco’ (1)
C) Viola Viola cornuta Sorbet™ Peach Melba (3)
D) Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima ‘Easter Bonnet Peach’ (1)
Container is 12 in. in diameter

Spring container with blue hydrangeas, pussy willow branches, pansies and stock: Add 10 to 12 pussy willow stems so there are enough of them to make a statement.

Grow a hydrangea in your spring container

The bigleaf hydrangea blooms in this spring container has lots of different shades of purple, from dusky red to violet-blue. Capitalize on those variations to help choose companions. Pansies and grape hyacinths coordinate with the blue tones. And the burgundy hyacinths, dark coral bells foliage and clusters of rosy cape daisies play up the red shades.

A few splashes of white stock and lemony yellow sedum brighten up this combo. So do the cut stems of silvery gray pussy willow. While the bulbs will wither away, the rest of these plants should be colorful for a month or more.

Keep your potted hydrangeas blue

Since potting mix tends to be slightly acid this hydrangea will most likely keep its blooms in shades of blue to violet. But if more pink starts showing up you can use a water-soluble plant food for acid loving plants, such as Miracid® will help keep the blue.

Design tip

This container would be fine without the pussy willow branches stuck in the back, but they add height and one more touch of spring. No matter what the season, you can tuck in a tall element like this. Perhaps in summer it could be bamboo stakes, painted or left natural. In fall, stems of broom corn (Sorghum bicolor) or even long tendrils of American bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) would add seasonal interest.

Planting diagram for container with hydrangea, pussy willow, hyacinth, pansy, sedum and coral bells

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Pansy Viola Delta™ Blue with Blotch (2)
B) Sedum Sedum rupestre Lemon Coral™ (2)
C) Coral bells Heuchera ‘Amethyst Mist’ (1)
D) Grape hyacinth Muscari aucheri ‘Dark Eyes’ (2 pots of 6 bulbs each)
E) Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Purple Sensation’ (1 pot of 3 bulbs)
F) Bigleaf hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Red Star’ (1)
G) Cape daisy Osteospermum FlowerPower®Purple Red (2)
H) Stock Matthiola incana ‘Vintage Peach’ (2)
I) Stock Matthiola incana ‘Vintage Lavender’ (2)
Container is 20 in. in diameter

Striking spring container with hellebores, grape hyacinth, and witch hazel: 'Primavera' witch hazel looks good in spring but also has lovely yellow fall foliage.

Add shrubs to your spring container

When you find a small shrub like this witch hazel blooming at the garden center, snap it up and create this striking combination of color and texture. If you plan on planting it in your garden later, leave it in the plastic pot and place flowering plants around it. Or take it out and grow it in the larger container all season. While these grape hyacinths will go dormant for the summer, the witch hazel and hellebore foliage create rich texture.

Container care tips

  • During spring, set this container in full sun.
  • Later in the season, after the flowers finish, if you want to keep it going, move it into more shade.
  • At the end of the growing season, plant everything in your garden. Or let the plants go dormant and store the entire combo in an unheated garage or shed. Keep the soil barely moist.
  • A ceramic pot may crack or break in freezing temperatures. Wood, plastic or fiberglass are better options if you plan on storing it where winters get really cold.
  • Take everything back outdoors as the plants begin to form buds early next spring.

Planting diagram for container with hellebore, witch hazel and grape hyacinth

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Hellebore Helleborus niger ‘HGC Josef Lemper’ (5)
B) Witch hazel Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Primavera’ (1)
C) Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’ (28)
Container is 24 in. in diameter

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Spring container with tulips and creeping jenny: Buy tulips in bud at the garden center for instant impact.

Spring container full of tulips

Grow late blooming tulips in your spring container and you’ll be able to find bigger annuals, such as this bacopa, wishbone flower and creeping Jenny, at the garden center to go with them. These annuals don’t tolerate the cool spring nighttime temperatures as well as the tulips so it's a good container to place on a sheltered patio, where the temperatures stay a bit warmer. When the tulips are done replace them with heat-tolerant annuals and this flowery group of trailers will stay looking great for the rest of the season.

Container care tips

  • To keep the annuals blooming strong for the entire growing season apply a liquid plant food every couple of weeks.
  • The wishbone flower may get leggy in the heat. Go ahead and cut it back by one-third to encourage more branching and more blooms.

Circle planting plan diagram for Tulip container with wishbone flower and creeping jenny

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Bacopa Sutera cordata Snowstorm® White (4)
B) Wishbone flower Torenia Catalina® Gilded Grape (4)
C) Creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (4)
D) Tulip Tulipa ‘Apricot Beauty’ (4)
E) Tulip Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’ (2)
F) Tulip Tulipa ‘Golden Apeldoorn’ (3)
G) Tulip Tulipa ‘Inzell’ (2)
Container is 15 in. square

Spring hanging basket with pansies, ivy and alyssum: Pansies are a classic flower for spring containers. Plant them near the edge and they'll drape over the side.

Hanging baskets can be spring containers, too

For hanging baskets that look great in early spring pansies, are perfect. And as temperatures begin to warm up, it’s easy to replace them with blooms that can tolerate more heat, like floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum). Hanging your basket in a spot that gets afternoon shade will help keep the nemesia and sweet alyssum going through hot summer days. You can lightly trim back either plant whenever it starts looking leggy. This will encourage good branching and more flowers, too.

Container care tips

  • Hanging baskets can dry out fast, even in spring. Keep an eye on the moisture by sticking your forefinger in the potting mix up to the first knuckle. If it's dry, it's time to water.


Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Nemesia Nemesia fruticans Bluebird (3)
B) Sweet alyssum Lobularia Snow Princess® (1)
C) Pansy Viola x wittrockiana Cool Wave™ Frost (6)
D) English ivy Hedera helix ‘Variegata’ (2)
Hanging basket is 12 in. in diameter

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