Creating successful container gardens is not something that’s left to chance. Whether showcasing a single specimen such as a small tree or shrub or combining plants together, proper selection can transform the mundane into something extraordinary.

Container "recipes" are like cooking. For a compelling end result, planning and the right ingredients are in order. For container arrangements with pizzazz, include mounding plants as "fillers," trailing varieties as "spillers" to drape over the edge, and anchor with a dazzling upright accent as a "thriller." Get started here:

FULL SUN PLANTS FOR POTS

Superbells® Pomegrante Punch™. Photo by: Proven Winners.

CALIBRACHOA

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Sun to partial shade

Habit:

Mounding spreading habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 12 inches tall, 12 to 24 inches wide, up to 30 inches long

One of the most versatile plants for containers, with flowers that come in an endless range of colors and patterns. Color coordinate with a ceramic pot and combine as a “spiller” with a foliage “filler” such as silver artemisia or golden licorice plant, and a “thriller” such as angelonia or small ornamental grass.

Learn more about growing calibrachoa.

Dalightful® Georgia Peach dahlia. Photo by: Proven Winners.

DAHLIA

Zones:

8-11

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Upright bushy habit

Height/Spread:

1 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide

Among the most popular summer flowers, with thousands of varieties in a wide array of bloom colors and forms. Most often grown in the ground; however, dahlias are also easy to grow in containers. Use as a stand-alone accent or combine with other late-season plants.

Learn more about growing dahlias.

Fruit Punch® ‘Classic Coral’ dianthus. Photo by: Proven Winners.

DIANTHUS

Zones:

3-9, depending on variety

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Mounding, spreading, or upright habit

Height/Spread:

4 to 36 inches tall and 4 to 24 inches wide

This easy-care annual or perennial lends cottage-style appeal with scented flowers in nearly every color imaginable, from white to nearly black. Place a container near a patio, deck, or entryway where the scent can be enjoyed up close. Combine with coral bells, geraniums, artemisia, or miniature roses.

Learn more about growing dianthus.

Euphorbia Diamond Frost®. Photo by: Proven Winners.

EUPHORBIA DIAMOND FROST®

Zones:

10-11, treated as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Sun to partial sun

Habit:

Mounding habit

Height/Spread:

12 to 18 inches tall and wide

Clouds of airy white flowers bloom throughout much of the growing season. This versatile annual can be integrated into any style garden. Plant as a “filler” element in a container in combination with trailing creeping Jenny or sweet potato vine and add a taller accent such as purple fountain grass or ‘Victoria Blue’ salvia.

Boldly® Hot Pink geranium. Photo by: Proven Winners.

GERANIUM, PELARGONIUM

Zones:

9-12

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Mounding, upright, or trailing habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 36 inches tall, 6 to 24 inches wide, trailing 12 to 36 inches long

Geraniums come in a range of flower colors and forms, including zonal and trailing ivy. The scented foliage can be green, gold, variegated, or patterned. Suited to hanging baskets and window boxes, combine with “spillers” such as trailing vinca or silver dichondra, and “fillers” such as sweet alyssum or annual lobelia.

Learn more about growing geraniums.

Luscious® Citrus Blend™ lantana. Photo by: Proven Winners.

LANTANA

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most zones

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Mounding, spreading, or upright habit

Height/Spread:

4 to 36 inches tall and 4 to 24 inches wide

This easy-care annual or perennial lends cottage-style appeal with scented flowers in nearly every color imaginable, from white to nearly black. Place a container near a patio, deck or entryway where the scent can be enjoyed up close. Combine with coral bells, geraniums, artemisia, or miniature roses.

Learn more about growing lantana.

‘Aurora Yellow Fire’ marigold. Photo by: Rock Giguere / Millette Photomedia.

MARIGOLD

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Sun to partial shade

Habit:

Mounding or upright habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 48 inches tall and 6 to 24 inches wide

Scented marigolds are a staple of kitchen and cottage-style gardens, grown for their bright, pollinator-friendly flowers. Plant in a container with other cottage-style annuals such as red salvia, nasturtium, and calendula. Include as part of a mini herb container garden alongside basil, oregano, and thyme.

Learn more about growing marigolds.

Supertunia® Royal Velvet®. Photo by: Proven Winners.

PETUNIA

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Habit:

Mounding, spreading, or trailing habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 24 inches tall, 12 to 36 inches wide, up to 36 inches long

This old-fashioned favorite has enjoyed new popularity as new hybrids in a multitude of colors and patterns have been introduced. A staple for window boxes, hanging baskets and containers, combine as a “spiller” with spiky dracaena or purple fountain grass, filling in with verbena, African daisy, or diascia.

Learn more about growing petunias.

Dwarf mugo pine. Photo by: APugach / Shutterstock.

PINE

Zones:

2-10

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Upright or spreading habit

Height/Spread:

2 to 130 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 40 feet wide

This diverse group of evergreen conifers is grown for its attractive needles, year-round appeal and carefree nature. Slow-growing dwarf forms suitable for containers include dwarf mugo pine, ‘Blue Shag’ eastern white pine, and dwarf Scots pine. Place in a container as a stand-alone accent near an entryway or combine with other seasonal plants with similar cultural needs.

‘Sweet Caroline Light Green’ sweet potato vine. Photo by: Proven Winners.

SWEET POTATO VINE

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Habit:

Mounding trailing habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 16 inches tall, 3 to 6 feet wide, up to 10 feet long

One of the best trailing annuals for containers, grown for its exotic-looking foliage in a variety of leaf shapes and colors. Use as a cascading accent in window boxes, hanging baskets, or containers with other warm-season annuals in complementary colors, such as coleus, petunias, purple fountain grass, or African daisy.

Learn more about growing sweet potato vine.

‘Profusion’ zinnia. Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

ZINNIA

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Exposure:

Full sun

Habit:

Mounding or upright habit

Height/Spread:

6 to 48 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide

Bright cheerful flowers and long bloom time make zinnias a favorite of gardeners. Place a decorative container on a sunny deck or patio with a mounding form such as ‘Profusion’ as a “filler”. Combine with an upright salvia or canna lily and a “spiller” such as trailing lobelia, calibrachoa, or sweet potato vine.

Learn more about growing zinnias.

Get inspired with more full sun container recipes from Proven Winners.

ONLINE LEARNING

DESIGNING ABUNDANT CONTAINERS

Learn the hallmarks of a well-designed container garden from professional designer Karen Chapman in this award-winning online workshop. You'll learn about layering foliage and flowers, creating a cohesive color palette, and more. Chapman walks you through the steps from planning, to soil, to shopping for plants, and final planting.

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