Easy, colorful container recipes

In response to posts praising Tropicanna cannas on the Garden Rant and North Coast Gardening blogs, commenters – and one of the blog’s authors – came up with plenty more ideas for using Tropicanna cannas in mixed planters.

On the North Coast Gardening blog, garden writer and blogger Susan Morrison said she’d designed a “striking” combination of the original Tropicanna cannas, Festival Burgundy cordyline and Abutilon ‘Halo.’

So often, a great mixed container design comes down to a “thriller” – often a big, bold and beautiful plant at the top of the composition, a “filler” – usually a mid-level plant that softens and complements the thriller, and a “spiller’”– a tumbler or trailer over the edge of the pot, for lower-level personality, texture and a finished look.

container gardening

Tropicanna makes a great “thriller” in containers

Here’s a simple container recipe with great color and texture:

  1. Thriller: Tropicanna Gold
  2. Filler: Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’
  3. Spiller: Torenia ‘Catalina Viva Blue’ .


If you’d like to get a little  enjoy monochromatic mojo going, keeping one element – color – the same while incorporating different textures and shapes, try something like this.  Here below, the low-growing, easy-care 1) Flower Carpet Yellow roses echo the yellow variegation of the cascading 2) Hakonechloa macra (Japanese Forest Grass) ‘Aureola’ and the dainty yellow flowers of the 3) lady’s mantle.



container recipes

This simple container has only 3 plants but loads of color and impact.

Just as similar materials can work together to create a pleasing container design, so can contrasting elements. Dark/light or complementary color schemes can amplify the hue of a specific plant by deliberately setting it alongside its opposite.   And juxtaposing different shapes or textures – spiky with soft, linear with trailing, or circle shapes with fountains or tufts – the overall effect is one of balance.

  1. Thriller – Tropicanna Black
  2. Filler – Salvia farinacea
  3. Spiller – Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’





Here’s an example of a light/dark combo featuring different textures, using Festival Burgundy cordlyline (top) with white lobelia (bottom underplanting).

Festival cordyline

canna Tropicanna® 'Phasion'

Tropicanna® in mixed container

And, of course, no piece on container recipes would be complete without the inclusion of Tropicanna® ‘Phasion’ (the original Tropicanna).  Exotic multi-colored leaves look like stained glass windows when backlit by the sun, making Tropicanna a lovely addition to any sunny deck or patio container planting.  This recipe is also simple, using only 3 plant varieties.

  1. Thriller:  Tropicanna cannas
  2. Filler: Zinnias
  3. Spiller:  Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’


Do you have any favorite Container combos?  If so, let us know about them!


Looking for more container ideas?

  • Click here to learn how to grow roses in containers
  • Click here to learn how to grow a good looking plot in a pot!
  • Click here for Dave Epstein’s step-by-step instructions for creating a container garden with Tropicanna






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One Response to Easy, colorful container recipes

  1. Manisha June 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Thanks a lot for your wonderful container design idea! You are very thorough and I was exactly looking for the detail information about pot planting specially what goes well with what kind of ideas. I’m very thankful to you and looking forward for more guidance.

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