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Garden Gate Container Garden Challenge

By: Kristin Beane SullivanKristin Beane Sullivan
Get 2 exclusive container recipes and find out which design won Garden Gate's Container Challenge, where 2 garden pros were put to the test to create beautiful garden containers in 30 minutes or less.

We asked two garden pros to design a great-looking container in 30 minutes or less. This episode’s theme? Instant Color! Learn their tips as they put together their containers, see if you agree with our judges’ decision, and see the planting plans for each of these great-looking containers here. Thanks to the team at Canoyer Garden Center in Grimes, Iowa, for hosting this fun event!


Meet the contestants

Rita Tressler (left) is a custom container designer for Canoyer Garden Center. She's been designing gardens for 30 years and definitely has the home field advantage. Chloe Deike (right) is an assistant editor for Garden Gate magazine. She grew up working (and playing) in her family's garden center.

The challenge:

They'll have 30 minutes to choose a container, shop for plants and plant up a great-looking container that will look showy right away but also keep the color going through summer and into fall.


Chloe’s spring splash container

  • Dark gray ceramic pot
  • Croton thriller
  • Bright orange zinnia fillers
  • Calibrachoa, verbena and creeping Jenny spillers
  • Viewed from one side
  • Full sun


Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum ’Petra’) (1)
B) Zinnia (Zinnia Sweet Tooth Orange Slice) (3)
C) Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa Superbells® Cherry Red) (2)
D) Verbena (Verbena Superbena® Royale Peachy Keen) (3)
E) Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia Goldilocks) (1-gallon pot, split)
(Container has a 14-in. opening)

Chloe’s container tips

  • Don't forget to shop the perennial aisles at the garden center, especially for foliage plants.
  • Sometimes dividing a large plant is more economical than buying several small ones.

See more beautiful container ideas


Rita's red, white and blue container

  • Cobalt-blue glazed ceramic pot
  • Angelwing begonia fillers
  • Purple fountain grass thriller
  • Sweet alyssum and Algerian ivy spillers
  • Viewed from all sides
  • Full sun


Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Fountain grass (Pennisetum purpureum Graceful Grasses® Vertigo®) (1)
B) Angelwing begonia (Begonia Dragon Wing® Red) (8)
C) Sweet alyssum (Lobularia Snow Princess®) (2)
D) Algerian ivy (Hedera ’Neon’) (3)
(Container has a 14-in. opening)

Rita's container tips

  • Buying more than one of a particular plant? Sort through the table until you find plants that are of similar size and shape.
  • The focal point plant (thriller) can be planted in the center of the pot if it'll be viewed from all angles or at the back of the pot if you plan to set the container against a wall and will only see it from one side.

Check out our Flowers & Plant guide

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Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work in the garden. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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