DIY Your Own Container Gardens

Originally Published on June 22, 2016. Last Updated on November 21, 2023.

Among the accessories and props we bring on photo shoots, live plants and flowers are great at adding a lived-in feel to our photos. Typically, we work with existing plants at each shoot location, but every once in a while we pot our own to bring along.

While buying a pre-made arrangement at your local florist or home improvement store is the easiest, sometimes it’s nice to get creative and put together your own unique assortment of plants and flowers.

Here are a few tips when arranging your own container garden:

Choose your containers

DIY Potted Plants-Choosing-Pots-POLYWOOD

There are a gazillion varieties of planters available now. While we went with galvanized planters for a recent country themed photoshoot, you could add splashes of color with glazed ceramic pots or even hand paint or stencil traditional terra cotta pots. It’s all about choosing a few varieties of sizes and shapes in a style that will fit your outdoor space.

Note: if your containers don’t have drainage holes (like ours above) you’ll want to add a drainage layer before adding your soil and plants.

Did you know? POLYWOOD offers a cute 16″ all-weather planter!

Purchase a good potting soil


We won’t get into organic vs. non-organic, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Container potting soil should be light and fluffy.
  • Look for a potting soil made up of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite or vermiculite.
  • Keep in mind, if your soil contains a slow release fertilizer formulation you’ll want to adjust any additional fertilization accordingly.
  • Potting soil may also use moisture retaining treatments – your watering patterns may need to be altered if you use a potting soil containing these substances.

Make a game plan for your colors


Whether you choose a simple, monochromatic look, or go all out with as much color as you can fit in the pot, keep in mind where you’ll be placing each container and what colors you already have in the space.

If you decide to stick to just leafy green plants, look for leaves of different shapes, sizes, and even shade/color variations to create interest and texture. Do you have lighter stone or siding? Try a mix of medium and dark greens with red/burgundy plants. If your exterior is darker, go with light and medium greens.

Creating your own colorful arrangements may be a bit intimidating at first, but not if you have a color plan in mind before purchasing. When in doubt, stick to similar color families to create pairs of blues/purples, peaches/whites, pinks/oranges, etc. Or you could go with complimentary colors such as purples/yellows, blues/oranges.

For color combination inspiration, check out one of my favorite color generators: Adobe Color.

Follow the “thriller, filler, spiller” technique


When in doubt, you can always talk to an expert at your local garden store. They can help you decide on the right plants and flowers for your sunny or shaded outdoor space, which potting soil to purchase, how to keep the pests away, and more.

Looking for a straightforward “buy this, get this” approach? Carmen from Carmen Johnston Gardens has several beautiful container garden ideas on her blog like this one.


Do you have some container garden tips, or just want to share your own photos? Let us know in the comments below! Happy planting!

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