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The Best Plants for Large Pots

coleus image by Keith Pinto from

Selecting plants for large container gardens depends on the preferences of the gardener. The best plants include those cultivars that offer proven performance in potted gardens. Designers use annual, perennial and tropical plants in large pots for summertime landscape displays. Plants acclimate better in the potted environment when gardeners design the planter based on sunlight requirements, watering needs and fertilization requirements.

Asparagus Fern

Gardeners often tuck lengths of asparagus fern into baskets for a beautiful hanging plant. This fine-needled tropical plant also adds grace and form to a large pot. Asparagus fern grows in a natural cascading form from a central clump. Foliage gracefully drapes over container rims, making this plant optimal for a container garden. Asparagus ferns survive from year to year if gardeners move the plant indoors or into a greenhouse during the winter. Asparagus ferns will fill an entire large pot at mature growth but can be purchased as smaller accent plants for a mixed container garden. The best attributes of this fern are the delicate foliage that looks like feathers and the consistent medium green color that provides a perfect backdrop for blooming annuals or perennials. Place the fern in dappled shade for best outdoor growing results.


Annual shade plants don't often provide tremendous color that provides contrast and vigor to a planter. But coleus adds dramatic color to large pots with brilliant wide-leaf foliage in patterns of magenta, purple, yellow, green and white. This shade-loving annual produces abundant foliage that only grows taller as the growing season progresses. Place multiple plants in a large pot for the best effect. This plant performs well when paired with flowering plants with matching colors or when massed in a pot. Provide plenty of water and fertilizer and protect the plant from frost. Coleus needs little, if any, pruning to provide stunning color all season long.


Gardeners commonly use hosta as a border plant in flower gardens. The thick foliage of this shade plant creates the perfect backdrop for flowering plants in a large pot. Hosta reaches a mature height of up to 30 inches and width up to 36 inches. Different cultivars feature a variety of variegated or plain green foliage to add contrast to the container garden. Growth will be restricted in a container and the hosta will eventually need transplanting to the garden or another pot. As a perennial, hosta tolerates climates in USDA zones 3 to 8. Some cultivars tolerate partial sun locations with adequate water.

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