How to Container Garden With Perennials


Perennials have a valuable place the in container garden world. These hardy plants provide beautiful blooms for a set period of time each year while adding continual texture with interesting foliage. Perennial plants work well when placed individually in a container garden or when paired with annual plants. These mixed perennial container gardens provide an interesting accent with more character than a standard annual-filled container garden.

Step 1

Choose a container that offers enough room to accommodate the mature growth of your chosen perennial plant. Find this information on the growing label attached to the plant from the nursery. Examine the bottom of the pot for proper drainage holes spaced 5 inches apart. Add extra drainage holes if spacing seems too far apart. Use a drill for ceramic and wooden planters or a screwdriver and hammer for plastic pots.

Step 2

Move the pot into its permanent location to avoid having to move an extremely heavy pot filled with soil. All purchased plants should tolerate the sunlight conditions of this permanent location. Fill the bottom 2 inches with gravel or potsherds to improve drainage in the planter.

Step 3

Fill the container halfway full of potting soil. Perform a trial run for plant placement before removing plants from transplant pots. Consider the viewing angle of the pot. If the planter will be viewed from all sides, position the perennial in the center. For a side view, place the perennial towards the back. Place medium plants on each side to frame the perennial with mounding plants between to fill blank spaces and trail over the sides.

Step 4

Water all plants lightly at the soil level to loosen compressed soil. Tip the large perennial pot onto its side and press down on the plastic pot. Position the plant upright and grab the center stem to gently lift the plant out of the pot. Rinse off excess soil with a garden hose to free the roots for expansion.

Step 5

Place the perennial into the container and measure the depth. The uppermost roots should lie about 2 inches below the pot rim. Adjust the placement if needed and fill in around the roots with fresh potting soil. This will raise the planter level, but your annual plants don't require the deep planting of a perennial.

Step 6

Free the medium-size and mounding plants with a similar method of pressing on the pot sides to loosen the soil. Lift the plants carefully from the pot and drive your fingers into the root ball to loosen the roots. Position the plants in their spots in the container and fill in with soil. Bring the finished soil level to 1 inch below the pot edge.

Step 7

Water the perennial container garden using a watering can or light trickle of water from a garden hose. Direct the stream at the base of all plants to allow water to deeply penetrate the soil in the container.

Step 8

Apply fertilizer at regular monthly intervals during the growing season. Container-grown plants don't have access to the consistent nutrients in garden soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Drill (Optional)
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Potting soil
  • Potsherds or gravel
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Garden hose
  • Perennial plant (focal point)
  • 2 to 4 complementary medium plants
  • 2 to 4 mounding or trailing plants


  • University of Florida Extension: Container Gardens for Outdoor Spaces
  • University of Idaho Extension: Herbaceous Perennials: Container Gardens
Keywords: perennial container gardens, container garden ideas, perennial potted plants

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.