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The Secret Formula for Grouping Plants in a Pot

Grouping together a bunch of different plants is one of the most popular décor ideas for large flowerpots. A harmonious mix of different colors, textures, shapes and heights has endless design possibilities. Here are some examples: 

Window boxes 

Framing the front door 

Near water bodies 

Garden accent 


Colorful pots in interior and exterior spaces 

Informal arrangements for outdoor offices 

Grouping plants in pots so they look good and live amicably can be tricky. Truly magnificent container plant combinations—plants supporting and emphasizing each other’s best traits—that’s even harder to achieve. 

Want to know the secret formula of creating such winning combinations? Read on. 

How to Group Plants Together: the Secret Revealed

The golden rule of building a mixed plant container is—the plants you choose should all have similar growth requirements. This includes their light, water, temperature and fertilization needs. A simple way to achieve this is by grouping together plants that belong to the same family.

Consider the location and growing conditions when picking a plant family. It will drastically narrow down your search. Cacti of varying heights, forms and colors, for instance, will do great in bright, warm spaces.  

Mixed planters should ideally include these 3 plant types:

Accent Plants

Vibrant, eye-catchy flowering plants such as geraniums or roses are ideal accent plants for mixed planters.  

Filler Plants 

Look for long blooming flowering or foliage plants that create a good contrast with the accent plants. Plants with variegated evergreen foliage such as azalea and boxwood are great for this role. They can be used as fillers and to create an intriguing backdrop to the more flamboyant plants.

Filler plants that are shorter than the accents create a visual balance and give your planter a well-rounded look. 

Trailing Plants 

Trailing plants spilling over the pot’s edge create interest at the base of the accent plants. Vining plants such as clematis and English Ivy are some wonderful choices. 

A typical mixed pot should have 2-3 accent plants for every filler/background plant, and at least 2-3 trailing plants.  

Create the Desired Shape for Your Mixed Plant Pot

The overall appearance of the pot is influenced by the choice of plants as well as the pot. You can emphasize the plants’ shape by choosing complimentary pot shapes and vice versa.  

Looking to add some vertical appeal to your space? A Philodendron Brasil pole in a tall pot will do the trick. 

Wish to create the impression of depth? Allow a trailing vine to hang loose down the pot’s sides.  

Choose Companion Plants for Your Pot

Companion plants are plants that can coexist amicably, without fiercely competing for the available soil nutrients, light or moisture. They complement each other’s growth and performance. 

Here are some benefits of companion plants: 

They’re a Natural Support Structure 

Including tall, upright plant varieties takes away the need for staking. In most cases, a companion vine will automatically climb the taller stem.

Companion Plants Support Each Other’s Growth 

Introducing a new plant to the soil alters the environmental conditions to a certain degree. This includes the soil pH, its moisture and nutrient content as well as watering needs. A non-companion in the same pot can make the conditions less than ideal for the existing plant’s growth. 

Grouping companion plants together prevents this occurrence. Companion plants typically require different nutrients than one another. One of them might absorb a substance the other plant doesn’t relish. This makes the conditions better suited for the other plant’s growth.  

They Optimize the Utilization of Soil Nutrients  

Companion plants have non competing root systems. As such, they access different depths. 

Plants with a long dominant root lift the nutrients from the depths, making it accessible to those with shallower roots.  

They Offer Protection Against Harsh Weather Conditions 

Taller companion plants offer shade to shorter plants that don’t particularly like direct sun. Tall, sturdy companion plants will also provide their fragile companions cover against strong wind and rain. 

They Create Lasting Color for Your Space 

Grouping of plants based on their blooming time and duration can create year-round interest for your space. Including early spring, summer and fall blooming flowers with evergreen shrubs is a wonderful idea.  

As the spring blooming plant begins to lose its flowers and foliage, the new growth of a late summer or early fall blooming variety can create the perfect cover. 

Choosing the right group of flowering plants will guarantee your container stays beautiful and vibrant at all times.  

Achieving the Desired Look with Your Mixed Plant Pot

Creating the desired look involves some planning. Make a list of candidates for all three plant types—accent plants, filler plants and trailing plants.

Consider each of the chosen plant’s mature height, coloration, blooming time and duration. Visualize the final display. If it doesn’t match your vision, consider alternate plant choices. 

Here are some flowering plants that do great when planted together in pots: 

Hibiscus (accent plant), Fuschia (filler plant) and Alyssum (trailing plant) 

Canna Lily (accent plant), Bouvardia (filler plant) and Calibrachoa (trailing plant) 

Princess flower (accent plant), Delphinium (filler plant) and Zinnias (trailing plant) 

Once you’ve chosen all the plants, it’s time to find the right pot. The pot should be proportionate to the height, spread and shape of the final floral display. 

The color of the flowers, foliage and pot should match the dominant theme and color scheme of the surrounding space.  

If you’re looking to create some visual harmony, picking varying shades of the same color is a wonderful idea. But if you’re looking for a dramatic display, we’d recommend you choose plants and pot of contrasting colors.  

The Right Spacing for Grouping Plants in a Pot

When grouping multiple plants in a pot, you have to be careful not to crowd them. The plants should have sufficient room for growth and be at a sufficient distance from the pot’s edges. 

Plants that have a mature height of less than 2 feet should be spaced 6-12 inches away from the neighboring plants. Plants that grow 2-3 feet tall should be spaced 12-18 inches from the neighbors. Taller varieties should be planted 18-36 inches away from the nearest plant. 

Each plant should be planted at least 1-2 inches away from the pot’s edge. 

You now know the secret formula of successfully grouping plants together in pots. It’s a bit of work, sure, but the results will enhance your place’s appeal manifolds. Get started right away!