Container Gardens That Get Noticed

Most of us put a pot of flowers out on the porch for the summer, but it gets a little ho-hum and predictable. But by finding some creative containers and tweaking the way you plant, you can have an arrangement that turns heads.

Cynthia Bee, who works with Jordan Valley Conservation Garden Park, shares some ways to plant some creative container gardens.

The “perfect storm” is created when two unrelated but synergistic forces collide. For me, it’s the combination of my love for all things green and growing and my newer addiction to vintage goods- and when they collide, it’s magic! Vintage goods are experiencing a huge resurgence nationwide but something about the thriftiness of it appeals to our inner cheapness and thus it’s especially strong in Utah. I’m lucky to have a number of friends who own thrifting/picking businesses and I’ve been picking through their stash to create some lovely vintage pieces. While I’d love to claim all the the work in this post as my own, I can’t take all of the credit- my friend Margee Rader of “We’ve Got Fleas” created several of the containers in this post and the folks at “Two Old Crows” helped me locate that awesome and just a bit rusty, thermos.

Vintage stuff works well for containers because it’s supposed to look a little beat up. Even so, there are some tips that will help you succeed and keep the plants happy growing in places the good Lord never intended!


· Look for containers that can handle the impact of soil and water.

· If using a container that’s not ideal for contact with water, such as an old suitcase, line them with a plastic garbage bag before adding the soil. (The Coca Cola Crate above is lined with a garbage bag)

· Containers that allow for drainage are good but not required. If your container DOESN’T allow for drainage, Make sure you do not overwater it.

· Look for crates, suitcases, old toys- especially metal or plastic, cookware, industrial parts, house parts

Where to Find Items:

· Flea market pop up sales are happening nearly every weekend this spring. Follow them on Facebook to take advantage of quick weekend sales. We have a list of great local vendors on THIS POST.

· Thrift Stores

· Items belonging to deceased family members that you don’t really want but can’t quite part with.

· On-line auction sites

· On-line yard sale pages- many Utah cities offer Facebook yard sale groups.

Soil Mix:

· I like to mix my soil with 1/2 Potting Soil and 1/2 Coconut Coir (which I buy at Steve Regan Products). The coconut coir keeps the soil more evenly moist as is absorbs 10x its weight in water then slowly releases it as the soil dries out.

· If using succulents, I add some small gravel to the mix to improve aeration. However, Margee says this step is not necessary if you’re judicious with your watering.


· The more porous the container, the quicker the plants will dry out.

· Smaller containers require watering much more frequently than large

· Metal containers can also require more water if placed in full sun- small containers should only be used in covered or protected areas.

· Plants are more likely to be underwatered than overwatered.

· In containers which do not have drainage, check the soil moisture down deep in the container before adding water.


· Do not use valuable items for upcycled containers, plants, soils, fertilizers etc. will negatively impact the value.

· Most upcycled containers do best with short term use, say a single season, then change them out. Again, this depends on the materials the item is made from.

· Vintage containers can be used for indoor or outdoor arrangements.
Top Tip: “I like to work with colorful foliage groundcovers such as Ajuga, Creeping Jenny and sedums. When the arrangement has served it’s purpose, I just plant the leftover plants out in the yard where they’ll continue to grow- no waste!”

Are you looking for more details, examples and ideas? The Home & Garden Club will be offering a FREE “Container Creations” class on May 18, 2013 where you can come and learn. The class is being taught by Andree Boggess.

In addition, we’ll have Margee Rader (creator of several pieces in this post) teaching container gardening with upcycled items at our Summer Soiree event in June! Plan to join us for an amazing evening- tickets are just $10.
You can learn more at

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