21 Best Plants for Container Gardening


Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil

Want to start a container garden but don’t know how?

Here are the best plants for containers and pots.

From bright, colorful flowers to stunning shrubs, you’ll be surprised how many of them there are.

And, they’re each beautiful in their own way.

You need to decide what kind suits your home, garden and personality the best.

Elephant Ear

Elephant Ear

This plant gets its name because it somewhat looks like the ears of an elephant.

Although some people may argue that it’s leaves are more heart-shaped.

In any case, because of its size it does better as an outdoor plant.

That’s because it can grow up to 3-6 feet tall in most cases, with some reaching 9 feet in height.

It’s large foliage also make it take up a lot of space.

You’ll typically find them in USDA zones 8-11.

They do well in both full and partial sun.

While they don’t require a lot of maintenance, it’s a good idea to keep them moist and well-drained.



Amaranths are a great addition to any garden because of their unique look.

They mostly grown as annuals. But, in some cases as short-lived perennials as well.

Like most of the plants in this list, there’s a variety of them. In this case however, there are 60-70 kinds you can choose from.

Among the more popular ones include the love lies bleeding and Joseph’s Coat.

They’re fairly good at adapting the the soil you put in the container. But, they grow best in fertile environments and moist areas.

This means you’ll want to place them containers that drain the excess water well.

The amaranth plant is more exists in more zones compared to others, you’ll find them in zones 2 to 11.



If you need to add colors to your garden or indoors, the coleus plant is a good choice.

They come with 3-4 wonderful and diverse colors ranging from pink to yellow and green. You’ll even see white and black in there.

Depending on the variety you get, they can vary from as little as half a foot tall to nearly 4 feet in height. Their leaves also range from 1-3 feet wide.

Unlike most plants, not all coleus are good at tolerating sunlight, so you do want to be careful not to put them in the south where direct sun is heavy.

That puts some varieties at risk of sunburn.

Medium light from the east or west works better.



Asters look very much like daisies because of the shape of their flower head.

But, they’re distinct in color.

You’ll find they in purple, pink, while, light blue and a few other hues.

Nevertheless, this makes them perfect for adding vibrancy and color to your garden.

Additionally, they also attract butterflies and other pollinators like bees.

While they do well in full and partial sun, aster plants prefer cooler climates.

Thus, they fill in your garden during the latter part of summer and autumn when most plants are on their way out.



Roses are probably the most popular kind of flower.

All thanks to Valentine’s Day.

While the red rose is the most common, you may want to try many of the different varieties as well. This gives you color diversity besides the dark red that’s all too common.

Roses are great as a landscaping plant. But, you can also grow them in pots.

In any case, they biggest selling point of roses are their looks.

They’re beautiful which makes them stand out when grown in containers.

Butterfly Bush

butterfly bush

From its name alone, you’ve probably already figured out that these plants attract butterflies.

And, you’d be right.

But, while there are many varieties around, butterflies have their preferences.

They particularly like the pink-lavender ones to the white or purple colors.

Unfortunately, the plant does come with some warnings.

It’s invasive.

That means it encroaches on other plants. And, in warmer environments, it may turn into a weed that spreads aggressively.



Found in zones 4 through 9, this is a lovely plant that’s known for its brilliant flower and lovely foliage.

Better yet, you have over 1,000 varieties to choose from.

This gives you the ability to use them in different areas of your garden. Among them are containers, ground cover, and even when you want taller plants that get up to 20 feet tall.

If that’s not good enough, you’ll be even happier to know that Azaleas don’t need fertilizer, mulch will be sufficient.

Plus, diseases and insects aren’t much of a problem either.

All it wants are well-drained soil that’s rich is hummus.



Terra cotta pots provide the perfect growing environment these lovely colored plants.

That’s because these containers allow for good drainage.

The do like full sun exposure in the morning. And, would prefer a little shade during the warmer afternoons.

If you decide to grow them, be aware they they’re susceptible to very hot weather.

Similarly, they’re not fans of the cold. They’re only able to tolerate very little of it before freezing or dying.



Most clematis are climbing plants.

So, if you want to grow them in containers, it’s a good idea to choose right ones.

That said, it’s very important to provide it with a large container. This not only gives its root enough room to grow but also protects them from the cold come winter.

It’s also a good idea to use lightweight potting soil along with a general purpose fertilizer.

Because it’s a vine, you’ll want to set up a trellis over the pot to provide the plant a structure to support its growth.

This will give it something to climb on.



The bougainvillea plant is one of the most versatile ones around.

You can grow them in hanging baskets or containers just as well as let them climb up a trellis or provide ground cover.

But, what makes it attractive is its wonderful color.

Purple is probably the most popular color you’ll find. However, there are white, pink, orange, yellow, red and many more colors to choose from.

English Ivy

English ivy

Should you prefer more foliage to flowers, this is a good option.

Like the bougainvillea, they’re able to grow in different landscapes.

You can use them as climbing plants, ground covers, in hanging baskets or containers.

The latter is what you’ll see most in most homes.

While they aren’t large in size per se, they spread. This makes them grow big.

The good news is that you’re easily able to prune and shape them to the size and look you want.



The boxwood is another shrub that gives you lovely green foliage that’s perfect for container gardening.

They’re ideal for zones 5 through 9.

As shrubs, they don’t bloom much and prefer to provide you with year round lush green leaves.

While they’re lovely to look at, it’s important to know they’re toxic to pets including dogs and cats. This means it’s a good idea to avoid them if you own pets. Or, keep them away from your animals’ reach.



Dracaena plants are very popular as houseplants.

Among the reasons for this is that they’re fairly low maintenance and can survive even in shady conditions.

They also require less water compared to most other houseplants.

But, you do want to mist their leaves to keep them hydrated.

While typically a houseplant, it does well outdoors too.

And, there are around 40 different species of them around. So, you get to choose the one you like the most.

Canna Lily


Canna Lilies are perfect for container gardens.

They’re easy to grow and don’t require a lot of maintenance. This makes them perfect for beginner gardeners. Or, if you don’t have a lot of time to look after your garden.

Typical grown as annuals in most areas, they like a lot of sun.

This means that if you do bring them in for the winter, you want to position them where they get a sunshine for most of the day.

What makes Canna lilies shine are their colors.

They come in yellow, pink, orange and red varieties.



Begonias are tropical and subtropical plants that have over 1,800 varieties.

As such, they like warm weather.

This makes it a good idea to move them outside after all signs of winter or frost are gone.

Although, they do well in both full sun and partial sun environments depending on the variety you have.

You’ve probably seen the most popular ones, the wax begonias.

These have white, pink or red flowers. And, they grow up to 8-11 inches tall.

In general, begonias are easy to take care of because they don’t have pest and insect problems. They don’t require a lot of watering as well.

As a bonus, these colorful flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.



Hydrangeas are flower shrubs that can be grown in containers as well.

That makes it unique since not all shrubs will let you do that.

But, what makes them stand out are their gorgeous blooms.

Hydrangeas produce large beautiful flowers that make you notice them.

They come in a variety of lovely, bright colors as well including white, pint, lavender and blue. All o which make them crowd pleasers.

For the gardener, they not only make your garden livelier to look at but also tolerate just about any kind of soil.

Although, they do prefer, rich, moist soil.




This is another gorgeous flowering shrub that does well in containers.

It’s got a beautiful bloom and evergreen foliage that makes it very attractive to look at.

However, it’s worth noting that they aren’t big fans of the sun.

In fact, they prefer the shade or partial sun.

Camellias grow from between 2 to 20 inches tall and get between 2 to 10 inches wide.

They’re great to take care of because they don’t require a lot of water and are low maintenance.

You do want to use containers that allow excess water to drain though. That’s because they prefer moist not wet soil.



Also known as tickseed, this is a lovely perennial flower.

Yellow it its most popular color which is why some refer to it as “Pot of Gold”.

In reality, the coreopsis plant comes in a variety of colors including white, yellow, orange and lavender.

They like the warm weather.

In fact, they’re drought tolerant which makes them a good choice if you don’t like having to water too often.

When planting, it’s a good idea to choose sandy soil that drains well. Soil pH between 5.5 to 6.5 will also help give you the best results.








Container gardens are awesome because of their versatility.

They let you experiment. And, you can easily move them from one place to another.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the right plants that look great in containers.

Hopefully, the list above has helped you find the perfect one you’re looking for.

Which plant was your favorite?


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