Suggestions for varied color container plantings in either shady or sunny spots

Kay Motley,  – November 23, 2004

Designed for a sunny patio, this container plan combines three plants with contrasting leaf colors and textures: purple fountain grass, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), and dusty miller (Senecio cineraria). For a shady area, try cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), Myers asparagus, and sword fern. Any of these plants, if snipped judiciously, can also provide cuttings to use in floral bouquets.


Choose a 16- to 20-inch container to hold from three to five plants in 1-gallon cans.

Plant on-site. Filled with soil and plants, the container will be heavy and difficult to move.

Fill the container about halfway with potting mix. Stir in a controlled-release fertilizer to provide a steady supply of nutrients.

Remove plants from 1-gallon cans and position them in the container, placing the tallest plant toward the rear and shorter ones in the middle or front. Fill in around plants with more potting mix.

Water regularly.