DIY Mixed Planters- Tips to Help You Make a Statement!

Creating your own planters is a fun and rewarding DIY project! The plant colors and combinations are endless.

Creating your own planters is a fun and rewarding DIY project!  The plant colors and combinations are endless.  This can make choosing plants for your mixed planters a bit of a challenge.  Below I have listed a few helpful hints to make the process a little less intimidating and a lot more enjoyable!

Pictures   Your cell phone camera is an invaluable resource in the process of making planters.  Take pictures of the empty planters, their final location(s) in the yard or on the patio, and your outdoor house color. Take note of how the planters will be viewed.  Will they be viewed from three sides, all sides or from straight on in a corner.  Think about grouping different sizes of pots for a more dramatic effect.

Visit Floral Acres    Make a scouting trip to Floral Acres and take pictures of their planters, window boxes and hanging basket combinations.  Their plant combinations are always exceptional and will give you some much needed inspiration.   You will no doubt come out with some great ideas and a few plants you adopted along the way!

Color Scheme   Determine a color scheme or be bold and mix colors and leaf textures for a beautiful blast of color on the patio or front door area.  Purchase a color wheel or find one on the net to help you determine your color scheme.  Do you prefer complementary colors, monochromatic, pastels, hot or cool color combinations?

Location   Will your planters be in a sun, part-shade or a shady location?

Mix It Up!   Be open to using annuals, perennials, small shrubs and tropicals.    Yes, I said perennials, shrubs and tropical plants.    This gives one a wider choice of plants for shady areas in particular.  There is nothing more awesome in a large shade planter than to include a hosta or two, ferns, ligularia or astilbe.  As long as they have the same exposure and moisture requirements as the annuals you are using the sky is the limit.  A snake plant or agave in a succulent planter is a dramatic addition.  At the end of the season remove the perennials and replant in the garden or gift them to friends and neighbors.  Tropicals can be repotted and kept inside for the winter.

Use Different Foliage Textures    Do not shy away from using different foliage combinations when creating your planters. Foliage such as potato vines, ivies, ferns, alternanthera, grasses (purple fountain grass or King Tut), coleus, hosta, iresine, caladium and various herbs.  Be aware that plants such as mint will overtake a planter.  They are great on their own in a grouping of pots but otherwise be careful!



 Create a Focal Point With a Shrub   For the ultimate low maintenance planter use a shrub or evergreen such as an upright cedar, small hydrangea, ninebark, gold flame spirea or an ever-blooming shrub rose.    These can also go in the garden for the winter when the season is over.  Make an individual shrub in a large planter your focal point and arrange smaller planters beneath that contain color or more greenery.



Use Pots/Containers With Drainage Holes    Drainage is very important.   To prevent the soil from washing out the drainage hole, cover the opening with a coffee filter or two.  Taller large planters may need stability such as rocks or bricks in the bottom of the pot. 

Soil – Most planters will be fine with a top-quality planter box mix as the main soil mix.  Mix in compost for an extra boost of nutrient goodness.  Succulent planters will need a porous fast draining mix. 

Water – Use plants in mixed containers that have the same moisture requirements.  Planters that contain a lot of plants will fill the pot quickly with roots and rapidly use up the nutrients in the soil as well.  Check for water needs daily.   

Fertilizer - Mix a slow-release pelleted fertilizer into the soil when filling your containers.  This is probably the easiest way to make sure your plants are getting enough nutrients.  Otherwise use a water- soluble fertilizer at half strength every two weeks during the growing season.

How Many Plants Per Pot?  - There is no magic answer to this question.  The number of plants per pot depends on the mature size of the plants used and the diameter of the pot.  I think it is safe to say that the most visually awesome looking planters contain quite a few plants.  There is, however, a formula for planting containers I highly recommend.  The Proven Winners company came up with this formula to help gardeners create an awesome planter every time.  Go to the Proven Winners website for planter recipes with great color combos and suggested number of plants per pot. 

The formula is simple.  A great looking planter should have a thriller, a filler, and a spiller.  The thriller is the main focal point plant and is usually the tallest or most unique plant in the pot.  A tall narrow trellis in a patio planter with a climbing vine would be considered a thriller.  The filler is just that- a plant that will fill the middle of the planter.  A medium sized petunia would be considered a filler.  Lastly the spiller is a plant that spills over the edge of the container giving the whole thing visual balance.  Potato vine, ivies, dichondra and trailing lobelias are considered spillers.   There may be only one thriller per planter but numerous fillers and spillers.   

A patio water feature can become a planter of sorts as well.  Fill a large diameter low bowl with water and a few different water plants.  Surround this focal point on three sides with different levels of colorful planters.  Include a small fish tank pump for aeration!

Remember planters can be created in spring, summer and fall.  Think about changing up your planters each season.  And most of all don’t sweat the small stuff- just have fun!


All Photos Courtesy of This blog is for information purposes only. 

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