How to Plant Flowers in a Pot

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company.

Planting flowers for Mother's Day
Mother’s Day 2012

My mom is my go-to flower expert. Ever since I can remember, she has always planted tons of flowers in the spring to enjoy all summer long. In fact, for Mother’s Day, she would always ask us to help her plant flowers. That was the only gift she wanted (and we were always happy to help out. It would make for a fun day where we would get super filthy outside). It was our tradition for years and years. Because of this, I’ve learned a few things along the way about how to plant flowers and figured it might be fun to share with all of you. And I’m having my mom sprinkle in her tips throughout today’s post!

Grab Your Planters & Pots

First, make a gameplan. I used to just go to the nursery and buy random flowers only to bring them home and find that I didn’t have nearly enough pots for all of my finds. Plus, they would be a mish-mosh of flowers that didn’t really go together. Now, I get out all of my planters before shopping, place them in the spots I want them to go, and make a shopping gameplan from there.White and yellow flowers on my front porch

Pots (HomeGoods) // Tall Planter: Beacon Impatiens, Vinca Vines, Spike, Dusty Miller // Small Planter: Fern, Yellow Rosa Hugonis, Polka Dot Plant

Jan’s Expert Tip: Keep color in mind. You may want to have your flowers coordinate. This year, I did yellow and white on my front porch and I did more colorful flowers on the back deck. Jan always likes purple and orange together.make sure your pots have drainage

Pot (HomeGoods), Lizzard Leaf,

As for the pots, make sure they have drainage at the bottom. You can always drill a hole at the bottom of a planter if you need to, but most pots and planters should have drainage at the bottom. This is key!How to plant flowers in a pot

Pots (Hardware Store): Wave Petunias, Vinca Vines

I buy a lot of my planters at HomeGoods or a hardware store. But here are some of my favorite planters that you can buy online…

Select the Right FlowersHow to plant flowers in a planter

Once you have your pots and planters all figured out, it’s time to go shopping! I typically shop for plants at my local hardware store and I always look for Burpee and Wave brands of plants and flowers. Wave petuniasAll Burpee and Wave plants are trialed and selected to ensure that you have success, even if you’re a novice when it comes to gardening! Here are some other tips to keep in mind when shopping…White beacon impatiens

  • Shade vs. Sun: When you make your shopping list, be sure to note which planters will need plants for sun and which ones will need plants for shade. If you have a plant that craves shade but you put it on a deck that is sunny all day, it won’t last very long. This is where reading the tags on the plants comes in handy. They should have care instructions and tell you what kind of environment you should create for that particular flower to thrive!
  • Thriller, Filler, & Spiller: This is a tip my mom taught me. When you plant flowers in a pot, you want to incorporate a thriller, filler, and spiller. Here’s what that means…Use a spike as your thriller in your planter
    • Thriller: This is usually an upright superstar that you put in the middle or back of your planter. We always like to use spikes for this. This thriller piece adds drama and creates some height to your pot.Hot pink wave petunias from Ball
    • Filler: Filler is the main part of your pot and usually where you’ll have some color. My favorite fillers are Wave Petunias. They come in vibrant colors, have a long bloom time, and grow so beautifully in the sun. I always planted Wave Petunias on my balcony at our condo (you can tour it here) and now I have them in our front window box as well as in planters on the deck.
Wave Petunias
Wave Petunias at My Mom’s Old House – Just Planted
jan's flowers in her front yard
Wave Petunias – End of Summer

You can’t go wrong with Wave Petunias. Just take a look at them at my mom’s old house. Wow!! In the shade, I opt for Beacon Impatiens. They, too, come in gorgeous colors that work well in pots. Those are the white flowers I have on our front porch. Vinca vines used as spiller when planting flowers in a pot

  • Spiller: These are plants that grow over the edge of a container and “spill” out. I often use ivy, vinca vines, or sweet potato vines for my spiller.
  • Identify Plants You Love: Sometimes I’ll spot a gorgeous flower on my walk around the neighborhood but I won’t know the name of it. I downloaded the free app, Plant Snap, which allows the user to take a picture of the unidentified plant and it immediately gives you the name. It is so cool and super helpful.
  • How to Plant Flowers – TutorialStart with a big white pot

    Okay, let’s get to the actual planting. So I actually had a large hydrangea bush on my back deck that sadly died a slow death over the month of June. RIP. Its death left me with a large pot left to fill (from the hardware store), which worked out perfectly for this tutorial.How to plant flowers in a pot

    Here’s what I’m planting: Spike (thriller), Wave Petunias (filler), Vinca Vines (spiller).

    make sure your pot is near its final destination because it can be heavyJan’s Expert Tip: Plant your pot near its final destination. Planters can be heavy when they’re all filled, so you should bring your materials to the pot to prevent lugging a heavy pot around the yard!

    So you’ve got your pot and materials…. now it’s time to get planting! To get the flowers out of their containers, squeeze the bottom plastic part and slowly pull the flowers from the base. You don’t want to pull from the top of the flower or you may rip some out of the soil. Once you have your flowers out of your containers, throw them into the pot.Put plastic containers in the bottom of thep ot.

    Jan’s Expert Tip: Don’t throw away those plastic containers. Instead, place them on the bottom of the pot so you don’t have to use as much potting soil.

    Place your plants on top of the soilNow, add potting soil or potting mix on top of the plastic containers until you’re a few inches from the top of the pot. Grab your plants and lay them out on the soil so you can visualize where they’ll go. You don’t want them to be too close together, so doing this ahead of time is always a good idea.

    How to plant in a planterUse a shovel (or your hands with gardening gloves) and make a small hole for your plant. I usually start with the spike, add the filler, and leave room for the spiller towards the front edges of the pot. Make sure you dig deep enough so your plants are fully in the soil and use your hand to break up the roots a bit (they can get pretty packed in their containers).

    Then, scoop more dirt in between the plants so it’s full up to the top of the planter. Push down and pack it down as you go. You want the plants to feel really secure in the dirt, but you don’t want the dirt level to be too high where water will spill out over the edge. How to plant flowers in a pot

    Now, give them a thorough watering and you’re good to go!! Hot pink wave petuniasDuring the hot summer months, I typically water every single day, giving my flowers a good soak with the hose. If rain is in the forecast, I skip that day. But for the most part, I like to water every morning before it gets too hot out.

    My Mom’s Outdoor PatioJan's city balcony

    To prove that you don’t need a big house or yard to plant flowers, I wanted to share my mom’s adorable balcony in her city condo. When she shared her home in this recent blog post, many of you remarked saying you wanted to see the outdoors. Your wish is granted!

    Window Box: Vinca Vines, Spike, White Wave Petunias // Red Begonias // Pot (Hardware Store): Fern, Yellow Rosa Hugonis, Polka Dot Plant

    She has lots of gorgeous planters out here as well as window boxes on her railing. outdoor couch and pillows

    Pot (Hardware Store): Cabbage Palm, Brazilian Jasmine // Gerber Daisy

    Outdoor patio in the city

    Couch // Table // Chairs // Pillows (old from World Market) // Rug (old from Wayfair)

    Let’s Get Gardening!How to plant flowers

    It isn’t too late to plant flowers this summer! And if you’re up for it, why not do some herbs or vegetables too? Burpee has the best ones to use for your own vegetable garden. I’m thinking next summer it will finally be time to give veggies and herbs a shot. It would be so glorious to have fresh mint for mojitos in the summertime! Until then, I’ll just enjoy our patio with all of our colorful flowers.


    The Year of Casey

    Hey there!

    I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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