When summer heats up, container designer Tina Dixon of Bothell, Washington, fills pots with tropical (and tropical-looking) plants that flaunt their lush foliage and flowers through fall.
Her pots go together quickly, and they look great from the moment they're planted. To duplicate her efforts, start with a large ceramic or terra-cotta pot - at least 24 inches in diameter and 17 to 20 inches deep.
1. Using a drill with a 1/2-inch glass-and-tile bit, drill three or four additional drainage holes around the existing center drain hole in the bottom of the pot.
2. Fill the pot with premium planting mix to about 6 inches below the rim. Add water, blending it in well to completely moisten the mix. Tamp the soil down slightly with your hands.
3. Arrange plants in their nursery containers atop the soil; adjust design as desired. Remove the tallest plant from its nursery container, rough up its rootball, and plant it.
4. Repeat the process with lower-growing plants; place trailers around the edge. Add soil to raise the level to 1 to 2 inches below the rim. Scatter controlled-release fertilizer over the soil. Water.