Ready-made Container Recipes

April 13, 2011

Easy, colorful, tropical container combos?  We’ve got ‘em!


Try out these ready-made container recipes from Tesselaar Plants


April 13, 2011 – Craving eye-popping garden container combos?

It couldn’t be easier with the following recipes, designed by Tesselaar Plants in its ongoing efforts to make gardening easier.

“So many of us love to look at all the beautiful colors, textures and shapes of plants in the garden center, but we have a hard time visualizing combinations,” says Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants. “While it would be nice to have the time and money to keep playing around with different plant groupings, this just isn’t reality for many of us. We’re busy. We’re budget-conscious. We want beautiful, dependable, already-choreographed compositions.”

That’s why Tesselaar Plants offers the following ideas for mixed planters, along with a PDF including plant-by-number images (high-resolution images available through Tesselaar’s newsroom or via the links listed with each recipe below).


The “thriller-filler-spiller”

“So often,” says Tesselaar, “a great mixed container design comes down to a ‘thriller’ – often a big, bold and beautiful plant at the top of the composition, a “filler” – usually a mid-level plant that softens and complements the thriller, and a ‘spiller’ – a tumbler or trailer over the edge of the pot, for lower-level personality, texture and a finished look.”

Here are three such designs, featuring colorfully foliaged Tropicanna cannas. For any multimedia stories you might be planning, you may also want to check out Tesselaar’s video, “Using Tropicanna Cannas in Containers.”


Container #1

  1. Thriller – Tropicanna cannas, original (top)
  2. Filler – Zinnias (middle left)

    Tropicanna as thriller, with filler and spiller in container

    Tropicanna as thriller, with filler and spiller in container

  3. Spiller – Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (right)

Container #2

  1. Thriller – Tropicanna Black cannas (top)
  2. Filler – Salvia farinacea (middle left)
  3. Spiller – Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ (bottom)
Tropicanna Black in container

Tropicanna Black with red flower in container


Container #3

  1. Thriller – Tropicanna Gold cannas (top)
  2. Filler – Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’ (lower right)

    Tropicanna Gold in container

    Tropicanna Gold in container

  3. Spiller – Torenia ‘Catalina Viva Blue’ (bottom left)







More Tropicanna combos …

In response to posts praising Tropicanna cannas on the Garden Rant and North Coast Gardening blogs last month, commenters – and one of the blog’s authors – came up with plenty more ideas for using Tropicanna cannas in mixed planters.

On the North Coast Gardening blog, garden writer and blogger Susan Morrison said she’d designed a “striking” combination of the original Tropicanna cannas, Festival™Burgundy cordyline and Abutilon ‘Halo.’

On the Garden Rant blog, garden blogger Michelle Derviss suggested grouping Tropicanna Gold cannas with a red phormium like ‘The Guardsman’ and a red banana.“Throw in some big-leaf coleus, some alocasia and a few succulents and you’ll have a knockout vignette,” she said.

And Genevieve Schmidt, author of the North Coast Gardening blog, suggested these three combos:

Tropicanna canna (original), Alstroemeria ‘The Third Harmonic’ and Uncinia uncinata ‘Red’

Tropicanna Gold, Euphorbia characias and Calluna ‘Beoley Gold’

Tropicanna Black, Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ and Clianthus puniceus ‘Red’

Branching out

Bonfire begonia in container

Bonfire begonia in container

Using trees, shrubs and other woody perennials in containers remains a hot trend among container designers. Here’s a combo featuring a red Japanese maple along with Bonfire begonias (extremely heat- and drought tolerant, yet colorful in the shade) and dark purple and lime heuchera. Doing a multimedia story on container gardens? See Tesselaar’s “Creative Containers with Bonfire begonias” video for more information on designing with Bonfire (plus Choc Red and Choc Pink –the new chocolate-leaved versions being introduced this year).

  1. Red Japanese maple (upper right)
  2. Bonfire begonias (left)
  3. Dark purple and lime heuchera (bottom right)

Monochromatic mojo

Flower Carpet Yellow in container

Monochromatic container with Flower Carpet Yellow, Hakonechloa, and Lady’s Mantle

Monochromatic color schemes are a great way to design in containers, keeping one element – color – the same while incorporating different textures and shapes. Here, the low-growing, easy-care Flower Carpet roses ( Yellow) echo the yellow variegation of the cascading Hakonechloa macra (Japanese Forest Grass) ‘Aureola’ and the dainty yellow flowers of the lady’s mantle. And if you need it, there’s always Tesselaar’s “Using Flower Carpet Roses in Containers” video.

  1. Flower Carpet Roses (top left)
  2. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (bottom)
  3. Lady’s mantle (lower right)


Cool contrasts

Festival 'Burgundy' with white lobelia

Festival ‘Burgundy’ with white lobelia

Just as similar materials can work together to create a pleasing container design, so can contrasting or opposing elements. Dark/light or complementary color schemes can amplify the brightness or hue of a specific plant (making it “pop”) by deliberately setting it alongside its opposite.  And juxtaposing different shapes and textures – spiky with soft, linear with trailing or mounding, or ovoid or circle shapes with fountains or tufts – the overall effect is one of balance.  Here’s an example of a light/dark combo featuring different textures.

  1. Festival Burgundy cordyline (top)
  2. White lobelia (bottom)

Check out Tesselaar’s video on designing with Festival Burgundy cordyline


For a wide array of hi-res Container Garden images, please to to our Container Garden Collection

Download this Press Release/Story Starter as a Word Doc:

(Right-click and Save-Link-As) Download Link


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