Wine barrel planters are an attractive and rustic way to create a container garden. They are usually half-barrels, cut down the middle and either set upright or on their sides, so that it looks like the flowers are spilling out and onto the ground. Wine barrels have the advantage of being portable, and they come in a wide variety of sizes. How you arrange the flowers in your wine barrel is first and foremost a matter of personal taste, but there are some things to consider before you start planting.
Decide where to place your wine barrel planter. Once it is full of soil and flowers, it may be too heavy to easily move. Purchase flowers that can grow in the location you choose. For example, fill a wine barrel planter on a covered porch with shade-loving flowers.
Fill the barrel with a layer of gravel. (Make sure the barrel has drainage holes in the bottom first, and if it doesn't, use a drill to make some.) Add soil to an inch or so below the rim of the planter. Choose a soil high in organic matter, or add some slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting.
Arrange the flowers so that the tallest plants are in the center if your barrel was cut horizontally and kept upright. That way, the flowers can be seen equally from all sides. If your barrel planter was cut vertically from top to bottom and it has a long, somewhat rectangular shape, you can still plant tall flowers in the middle, depending on the location of your planter. If you placed the planter against a wall or fence, put the tall flowers in the back row and shorter flowers in the front. Line the front and sides of the planter with cascading flowers.
Delphiniums, mums and geraniums are all good choices for tall flowers that grow well in sun or part shade. Shorter annuals such as primroses, pansies and impatiens are hardy plants that will thrive in a wine barrel planter. Good cascading flowers that will bloom all summer long include sweet alyssum, morning glory, ivy and sweet pea.