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The Best Plants For Your Summer Containers

Spruce up patios, decks, entries and more with these showstoppers!
Front yard of a featured property with flower planters.

As the Decor Specialist at the Landmark Group, I’m often asked which plants I’d recommend adding to container gardens for maximum impact. And the answer I usually give is… it depends.

 Each property (and property owner) is unique, so there really isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” answer to that question. Choosing the right plants depends on a number of factors, such as the environment, location and level of maintenance a homeowner is comfortable with. 

 Each arrangement is tailor-made to complement the architecture of the home and the homeowner’s unique style — and to me, this is a fun, problem-solving activity I look forward to each season!

 That being said, there is a common rule when it comes to creating planters — each one should include a “thriller, spiller and/or filler.”

Hanging planters.

The “thriller” is the star of the show…

The thriller is the focal point or centrepiece of the arrangement. Plants in this role are usually higher and more intense (in terms of colour and vibrancy) than the surrounding plants.

 Here are two thrillers that I love working with. They really add impact and class to decks, patios and entranceways:

 Kimberly fern — The Kimberly fern is a lush, evergreen plant with graceful, sword-shaped fronds. They look equally gorgeous on their own or paired with colourful impatiens and/or trailing ivies. These are real show-stoppers!

 Mandevilla — The mounding form of Mandevillab (Diamantina) grows about 12–18 inches tall and wide, and because they have a bushier habit than Mandevilla vines don’t need to be supported. They typically come in various shades of white, pink and red. These sun-lovers will reward you a beautiful burst of colour straight through to frost.

Planter with Kimberly Fern plant.

And now for the supporting players… 

While not necessarily the main focus of a planter, “spillers” and “fillers” each play an important role when designing a planter.

Spillers border the exterior of the planter, often “spilling” gracefully over the edge (hence the name). The spillers I like to work with are English ivy and the licorice plant.

  • English ivy — English ivy is a beautiful woody vine that is an aggressive grower — and left to its own devices in your garden it can be quite invasive! But in an arrangement, it’s much better behaved and looks absolutely fantastic cascading over the edge of the container.

  • Licorice plant — The licorice plant is a vigorous grower with lovely silver-white foliage (similar to dusty miller). It’s super-easy to grow, loves the sun and is heat and drought resistant. In the heat of the summer, you might even catch the faint smell of licorice!

Fillers really complete the planter. Although they’re not always necessary (the Kimberly fern, above looks great on its own) fillers do add colour, texture and interest. These are two of my favourite:

  • New Guinea impatiens — this variety of impatiens is a great addition to your container — they have big, showy blooms and are more tolerant of sun than other varieties of impatiens. They come in vibrant shades of pink, purple, orange, red and white.

  • Verbena —  although some species of verbena can grow up to three feet, the kind you’re probably familiar with is the shorter variety. These have tons of small but showy flowers that cluster together in shades of pink, purple, red, blue and white. They’re extremely hardy and add a great pop of colour to the base of your container.

Outdoor lighting.

Other ways to enhance your outdoor spaces…

Most of the seasonal décor we provide our clients at the Landmark Group involves planters — but there is so much more you can do to decorate your outdoors! Here are just a few:

  • Specialty lighting to highlight key features and provide dramatic impact 

  • Decorating arbors and trellises with seasonal flowers and vines

  • Lighting pathways with lamp posts decorated with hanging baskets

  • Creating a floral boardwalk to enjoy on sunny afternoons

As a full-service design and construction company, a lot of our clients include décor elements in the design stage. They find having everything properly integrated from the start (like electrical and irrigation) is a huge benefit, but décor can be easily added to any landscape.

If you’re looking for ways to spruce up your property this summer, check out our complete range of property care services.

Written by: Alex Glueckler