A Modern Container Garden for the Patio

In this contemporary display, the slim vase-shaped container balances the tall spiky cabbage palm and drooping ferny foliage, while pineapple-like flowers lend an exotic touch.
contemporary arrangement has dramatic effect

contemporary arrangement has dramatic effect

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Green is the only color used in this contemporary display, the subtle hues helping to emphasize the forms and textures of the plants. A slim vase-shaped container balances the tall spiky cabbage palm and pendent ferny foliage, while pineapple-like flowers lend an exotic touch.

When to Start: Late spring
At Its Best: Early summer to early autumn
Time to Complete: 1-1/2 hours

Materials Needed:

  • large pot, at least 18 in. deep
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • multipurpose soil
  • slow-release fertilizer
  • Cabbage palm (Cordyline australis)
  • Tobacco plant (Nicotiana) 'Lime Green'
  • Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)
  • Pineapple lily (Eucomis bicolor)

Prepare to Plant

Half-fill the container with soil, and then add some slow-release fertilizer. Water the plants well, and slip them out of their pots.

Plant Up

Plant the palm at the back of the container and the pineapple lilies at intervals in front. Set the tobacco plants between the lilies and squeeze in the ferns around the edge. Leave about a 2" gap between the surface of the soil and rim of the pot, to make watering the container easier.

Care for the Plants

Summer Care
Position your container in a sunny site but make sure it's shaded from the midday sun, which will scorch the fern. Water every other day in summer. Deadhead the tobacco plant regularly, and occasionally trim off leaves that look messy.

Winter Care
These plants need protection from hard frosts, so bring indoors when cold weather threatens. The pineapple lily will die back in the fall, then re-emerge in spring. Only the tobacco plant is an annual and will need to be replaced each year.

Cool Greens

The following plants would work equally well planted together in a container.

Phormium tenax 'Variegatum' (Image 1); variegated heuchera (Image 2); Aeonium arboreum (Image 3)

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant in Gardening Containers

To ensure that plants in gardening containers grow and perform as well as possible, you need to plant them properly.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants.

How to Grow Flowering Vines in Containers

Many compact climbers, such as jasmine and some clematis, are well suited to living in pots. All they need is a good-sized container, suitable support and regular watering and feeding.

Cottage-Style Container Gardens

Enjoy these beautiful containers on the patio or place them in the landscape.

Bold and Brassy Container

Add a bright container to your patio with these ideas for colorful plants.

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

How to Grow Patio Roses in Containers

Modern patio roses bloom for many months and allow gardeners with limited space to enjoy their color and fragrance. Look for roses labeled "patio" or "miniature" and place containers in the sun.

How to Plant a Colorful Container Garden

Learn how to add a few potted plants and flowers to your outdoor space with these guidelines.

How to Plant a Poppy Container Garden

Learn how to plant a container garden for various types of poppies with this step-by-step gardening guide.

Think Outside the Pot: Plant a Container Butterfly Garden

Lure butterflies right to your door with a collection of containers filled with nectar-rich flowers.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.