Creative Containers

Containers are a huge part of gardening and creating them yourself is even more fun! Making your own combination of plants is an amazing way to get into gardening or to be creative using the skills you already have. For Container Days this year, we have put together a list of our favorite recipes so you can get inspired to DIY your own containers! 


This is our most classic container recipe and we have been using it since McDonald Garden Center was established! You may have even seen Mike, the Garden Guru use this method in many of his webinars. The traditional recipe is perfect to get any container to look its best. Whether that is for annuals, edible plants, or even houseplants. 


Thriller -

Choose a super showy thriller plant to go center stage. It should be taller than the rest and stand out due to its color and strong stature.

Filler -

Select flowers that fill in the area directly around your thriller. These will really add sparkle and depth to your planter.

Spiller - 

Finally, add blooms or foliage that gently cascade over the edge of your container. Spillers add dimension and a little added drama, extending the container into its surrounding space.



Pollinator containers are perfect for attracting and hosting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds (link to blog). There are a variety of ways to build these containers, but it is mostly about choosing the buzz-worthy plants that will attract the pollinators you love to your garden. Knowing which plants pollinators are attracted to, what they need to feed on, and how they need to live will all determine what type of plants and accents will go in your garden.

Here are a few of our favorites:

salvia • pentas • petunias • zinnias • lantana • coneflowers • bee balm • black-eyed Susan • Agastache • coreopsis • goldenrod • verbena • yarrow • veronica • milkweed • dahlias


PRO-TIP: Add helpful decorations like houses and colorful stakes to your pollinator combinations to keep the pollinators hanging around even longer!



Create a garden just for the adults! Cocktail gardens are a great way to include fresh herbs in your bartending. Make drinks like minty mojitos, spiked lavender lemonade, or a basil French 75. Fresh herbs are an essential part of great cocktail mixing and having them all year-round can give you a fresh, delicious drink whenever you need one. 

Stir up some drinks with:

Lavender • mint • lemon balm • lemon verbena • thyme 



There’s nothing like a tropical planter to remind you of lying on the beach and soaking up the sun and using bold-colored plants, with interesting foliage, can help achieve that tropical feel. Incorporate plants that have varying patterns, shapes, textures, and movement.

Some beautiful favorites: 

hibiscus • mandevilla • canna lilies • colocasia • caladiums • coneflowers • sedums & succulents • lantana • pentas • vinca • yucca • cypress • ferns • palms



Why not make a container that not only looks great, but deters mosquitoes naturally? Mosquitoes are a huge problem in many places, including the Hampton Roads area. These containers are not only functional, but beautiful and fragrant. 

Naturally repel irking insects with plants such as:

marigolds • lemongrass • mint • rosemary  citronella geranium • lavender • lemon balm



Now that you have an idea or two on how to create your own container, it’s time to plant them up! 


  1. Fill your container with enough soil so the base of the plant (where the stem sprouts from the soil’s surface) is about one inch from the top of the pot. This will make it easier for you to water later. 


  1. Next, carefully remove plants from the container by gently squeezing around the sides to loosen the root ball enough to slide out. Loosen plant roots slightly and gently place them in the soil.


  1. Once all your plants have been arranged, fill the soil around the plants with potting soil. Lightly pack the soil around the plants to help prevent air pockets and to help establish a good root to soil connection.


  1. Once you’ve planted your container, water it thoroughly. This will hydrate your plants and firm the soil around the roots.


Come see us for even more inspiration during our Container Days event on May 27th-30th, 2022. To stay updated on all things gardening, check out the Garden Guru every week with new plants, products, and expert planting advice. To get inspired and grow with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to dig into the joys of gardening!