Best Colour Schemes for Garden Pots and Planters


colourful garden pots and planters

Garden Pots and Planters

To be a constant joy and interest, not all containers need bold or startling colour schemes that can be seen from far away down the road. Some of my nicest and most memorable effects have been quieter, more subtle, and the more ‘secret’ boxes seen only from close at hand in the garden can often be the best-loved. All-foliage containers, without flowers, often come into this category, and I have a very great fondness for a couple of quiet little terracotta urns, and a matching hanging basket, planted up with echeveria which have delighted me all summer with their silver-blue colouring. And a small north-facing conservatory I painted white and once hung with baskets dripping with cool maidenhair ferns also proved memorable. These latter grew so well in the cool and moist conditions that they shed spores into boxes of other ferns below, and the resulting hundreds of baby maidenhair plants enabled me to give many to a plant stall at a charity fete. It is always an added pleasure when things do really well.

Gentle colours often create a perfect backcloth for brighter ones. Permanent plantings can make the soft colours, with annuals for the bright accents in front. Hebe pagei (a form of shrubby veronica) is a charming little grey-blue ‘carpeter’ which makes a dense cover in a container, and Hebe armstrongii is another dwarf veronica with an unusual old gold conifer-like effect. Skimmias, with good evergreen leaves and red berries, can all be used as settings for plants such as wallflowers, polyanthus, daffodils, in spring, and pansies, begonias, in summer. Another good shrub for large garden pots and planters is the variegated griselinia with its clean glossy leaves of yellow and green (so easy to grow from cuttings, which can be used in the larger boxes as they grow up).

A rather more everyday shrub is privet, which in its gold and variegated forms makes an appealing plant for garden pots and planters, if kept clipped hard back – the golden ones always look as though the sun is shining on them. All the above make good foils, and hardy border plants which can be lifted from the garden and used in boxes and baskets for the same purpose include alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), with its charming green foliage and showers of lime-green frothy flowers, all the hostas, which have firm sculptured leaves, and heuchera, an evergreen with pretty scalloped leaves.

Few people, in my experience, pay enough attention to the colour of garden pots and planters when selecting the plants to go in them. Black or white containers are popular and can look superb filled simply with white flowers and green foliage. Or what about adding yellow, pink, or blue flowers to white ones in a white container, against the background of a wall or woodwork in brown, sage green, or even white – for even with white against-white you get shadows and subtle differences of tone. I think that if a white container is used, a touch of white should always be included in the plantings.

All the warm terracotta plant-pot colours must be used with some discretion. They show off sugary blue-pinks poorly, and are better with salmon pink, orange-red, lime green, silver-grey, pale lemon yellow, or ice blue, and ghastly with lavender or purple. On the other hand, stone-coloured garden pots and planters display almost everything to advantage, making all colours look good.

Unless a flower planter is either antique or really beautiful in its own right I would never hesitate to colour it to go with the colour scheme I have in mind. If you really do not care for terracotta, for example, because it makes you think of ordinary flower pots, but you happen to like the shape of a particular terracotta flower planter, then paint it with a matt colour wash – house wall paint will do the job. I may change a pot’s colour each season, to suit some new planting, and I don’t mind painting a pot while the flowers are actually blooming if I find the overall colour effect is poor! So be brave. Go ahead with confidence – and change anything which doesn’t work first time.

Here are a few ideas for colour schemes for attractive garden pots and planters:

Against red brick : cool colours such as pale yellow, soft blue, cream, silver, lime green, white, orange-red.

With stone and concrete : all colours, but particularly apricot, coral, tangerine, all the blues from baby blue to navy, lilac, violet, citron yellow, rose pink, scarlet.

Colour-washed walls :

  • against soft blue walls – deep blue, fuchsia pink, Venetian red, grey, peach, orange, tan, clear primrose, brown, green;
  • against white walls – almost all colours, but try to link plant and flower colours with any adjacent woodwork;
  • against brown walls – white, pink, orange, pale blue, crisp yellows;
  • against pale green walls – almost all colours, but try pink, deep cyclamen, plum, yellow, tan, brown, fiery reds, pale orange;
  • against pale pink walls – old rose, green, white, brown, lilac, violet, spring greens.


05. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening Ideas | Tags: , | Comments Off on Best Colour Schemes for Garden Pots and Planters

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