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Meet 8 of the best container plants

By: Garden Gate staff
When it comes to growing beautiful containers, it all starts with the best container plants. Meet 8 of our favorites for colorful, easy-care containers all season.

best-container-plants-calibrachoa-pv: This Tropical Sunrise calibrachoa makes for a perfect container plant.

To a gardener, all plants are stars. But some plants are born to shine just a bit brighter. These are the best container plants. Maybe they have plentiful flowers, colorful foliage or graceful trailing stems. Perhaps they’re durable plants you can count on to look good all summer long. Whatever its star quality, each of the plants below has that extra something that every gardener can use. If you're ready to grow great-looking containers, it all starts with the best plants.

See More Easy-Care Plants For Containers

8 of the Best Container Plants

Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa hybrids)

Calibrachoa’s trailing habit makes it ideal for hanging baskets. And a single plant, can cover a small container. Even though the billowy flowers slow during the heat of summer, they come barreling back as the weather cools. With consistent moisture, they’ll bloom until frost or the days get short.

Type Tender perennial, grown as annual Blooms Flowers in shades of blue, violet, white, yellow, red, orange, peach, bronze or pink from spring through fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 10 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeriana)

Slightly shiny purple leaves make a great contrast or backdrop for plants with bright-colored flowers. The foliage color is best in part shade. Persian shield also has pale blue blossoms in late summer or fall — you can leave them or pinch them off. Don't let the soil get too dry or it will drop leaves. Persian shield overwinters nicely indoors as a houseplant.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Iridescent purple leaves; insignificant blue flowers in late summer or fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 18 to 36 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Geranium (Pelargonium hybrids)

These plants love the heat and don’t mind getting a bit dry, which makes them fantastic container plants. Plus they come in a wide range of flower colors. And look for tulip-, rosebud- or cactus-flowered geraniums to give a traditional planting a twist. But don’t forget the foliage! Many geraniums have a “zone” marked off on the center of each leaf.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as annual) Blooms White, lavender, pink, orange or red blooms from spring to fall Light Full sun Size 5 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Winged begonia (Begonia hybrids)

Winged begonias are tough and drought-resistant. They're known for clean foliage and prolific blooms, too. Colors hold best in afternoon shade, but they tolerate full sun, too. This is a self-cleaning plant, so the flowers drop off as they fade — you never need to deadhead!

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink or red flowers top shiny foliage spring through frost Light Full sun to full shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 11 to 12

Coleus (Plectranthus hybrids)

Coleus is so versatile! Its beautiful leaves make it interesting enough to grow as a single specimen or with loads of other annuals. It's a fast grower, so start with small plants. Plant growing too tall at the end of the summer? Pinch it back. That’s all there is to it!

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Leaves in shades of green, yellow, orange, red, pink and black, many with fancy markings; insignificant blue or white flowers all summer and fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 6 to 48 in. tall, 10 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia)

In a small container, the upright spikes of summer-blooming angelonia could be a focal point. But in a larger combo it's a good supporting player, too. It benefits from a weekly dose of water-soluble fertilizer. Remove spent flower stems to help promote more blooms, too.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, blue, purple, pink or red late spring through frost Light Full sun Size 4 to 30 in. tall, 8 to 20 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

Cascades of burgundy, brown, gold or variegated leaves make this tender perennial popular. Occasionally snip the tips of the stems back a couple of inches to keep the vine under control. It grows quickly, so you can start with a small plant and reap big rewards in no time.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Burgundy, brown, gold, green and variegated leaves spring through fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 12 in. tall, 18 to 72 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Starflower (Pentas lanceolata)

Want to attract butterflies to your garden? As soon as they find a starflower, they'll flock to it. Use this plant in the middle or back of a container. Starflower needs sun and heat to get going, so don't set one out until summer arrives. Deadhead the spent flowers for a tidy plant and more blooms.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink or red flowers late spring through fall Light Full sun Size 10 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa hybrids)

Calibrachoa’s trailing habit makes it ideal for hanging baskets. And a single plant, can cover a small container. Even though the billowy flowers slow during the heat of summer, they come barreling back as the weather cools. With consistent moisture, they’ll bloom until frost or the days get short.

Type Tender perennial, grown as annual Blooms Flowers in shades of blue, violet, white, yellow, red, orange, peach, bronze or pink from spring through fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 10 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Coleus (Plectranthus hybrids)

Coleus is so versatile! Its beautiful leaves make it interesting enough to grow as a single specimen or with loads of other annuals. It's a fast grower, so start with small plants. Plant growing too tall at the end of the summer? Pinch it back. That’s all there is to it!

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Leaves in shades of green, yellow, orange, red, pink and black, many with fancy markings; insignificant blue or white flowers all summer and fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 6 to 48 in. tall, 10 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeriana)

Slightly shiny purple leaves make a great contrast or backdrop for plants with bright-colored flowers. The foliage color is best in part shade. Persian shield also has pale blue blossoms in late summer or fall — you can leave them or pinch them off. Don't let the soil get too dry or it will drop leaves. Persian shield overwinters nicely indoors as a houseplant.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Iridescent purple leaves; insignificant blue flowers in late summer or fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 18 to 36 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia)

In a small container, the upright spikes of summer-blooming angelonia could be a focal point. But in a larger combo it's a good supporting player, too. It benefits from a weekly dose of water-soluble fertilizer. Remove spent flower stems to help promote more blooms, too.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, blue, purple, pink or red late spring through frost Light Full sun Size 4 to 30 in. tall, 8 to 20 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Geranium (Pelargonium hybrids)

These plants love the heat and don’t mind getting a bit dry, which makes them fantastic container plants. Plus they come in a wide range of flower colors. And look for tulip-, rosebud- or cactus-flowered geraniums to give a traditional planting a twist. But don’t forget the foliage! Many geraniums have a “zone” marked off on the center of each leaf.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as annual) Blooms White, lavender, pink, orange or red blooms from spring to fall Light Full sun Size 5 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

Cascades of burgundy, brown, gold or variegated leaves make this tender perennial popular. Occasionally snip the tips of the stems back a couple of inches to keep the vine under control. It grows quickly, so you can start with a small plant and reap big rewards in no time.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Burgundy, brown, gold, green and variegated leaves spring through fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 12 in. tall, 18 to 72 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Winged begonia (Begonia hybrids)

Winged begonias are tough and drought-resistant. They're known for clean foliage and prolific blooms, too. Colors hold best in afternoon shade, but they tolerate full sun, too. This is a self-cleaning plant, so the flowers drop off as they fade — you never need to deadhead!

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink or red flowers top shiny foliage spring through frost Light Full sun to full shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 11 to 12

Starflower (Pentas lanceolata)

Want to attract butterflies to your garden? As soon as they find a starflower, they'll flock to it. Use this plant in the middle or back of a container. Starflower needs sun and heat to get going, so don't set one out until summer arrives. Deadhead the spent flowers for a tidy plant and more blooms.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink or red flowers late spring through fall Light Full sun Size 10 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Related Tags

annuals-tender-perennials backyard container-gardening plant-recommendations

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