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Matchmaking Tips for Containers and Plants

By Jolene Hansen
Maximize your success and enjoyment by making sure containers and plants work together.

Personal style and the latest trends play major roles in choosing containers and plants for your décor. You want unique combinations that highlight your individuality and look great as they do it. Maximize your success and enjoyment by making sure containers and plants work together. For perfect pairings, these matchmaking tips help lead the way:

1. Find the right scale and balance

Matching your containers and plants to each other and to their surroundings is essential for pleasing proportions. As a guide for scale and balance, follow the “rule of thirds" that photographers use for their compositions: Consider the total height — or width — of your plant and container, then divide it into thirds. Let the container take one-third of the space, while the plant makes up the difference — or vice versa.

Matching your containers and plants to each other and to their surroundings is essential for pleasing proportions.

To keep symmetry favorable, consider the size and shape of plants now and as they grow. For slow-growing plants, focus on the present. Pair colorful, low-growing succulents with a patina-washed metal painters can, or combine a hip-height, red-tipped marginata with a large persimmon-red Palermo planter. For fast-growing plants and rambunctious edibles with extensive, deep-reaching roots, choose large, roomy containers right from the start. An heirloom cherry tomato plant is the perfect partner for a bucket container of dark-flamed wood.

2. Play with colors and textures

The colors and textures of container and plant combinations need to complement each other and work with the larger color scheme of your home or garden. Think of leaves as fabrics that come in reds, yellows, purples, oranges and a multitude of greens. For flowering plants, bloom colors count, too.

The colors and textures of container and plant combinations need to complement each other and work with the larger color scheme of your home or garden.

For dramatic, colorful foliage plants, a simple container with muted colors and designs lets the excitement come through. The subtle detailing of a wasabi river bed pot lets purple-leaved ornamental grass take center stage. Simple horizontal impressions on a pistachio boulevard lite jardiniere do the same for chocolate, pink and lime coleus leaves. For plants low on drama, containers with high-powered color or eye-catching textures kick it up a level. An exotic-textured pebble planter transforms a simple, white-flowering peace lily.

3. Enhance plant health with appropriate containers

An unhealthy plant will make the most beautiful container look bad. So let plant growth habits and growing preferences help guide your choices. For example, shallow-rooted succulents pair well with low bowl containers, while deep-rooted plants enjoy tall egg containers. Naturally porous materials, such as terra cotta, improve airflow for plants that prefer drier soil. Flowering herbs, such as lavender or rosemary, flourish in rolled-rim Italian terra cotta, whether rich earthen brown or classic red clay. Moisture-loving plants thrive in nonporous containers, such as fiberglass or metal, which hold moisture.

Orchids need containers that provide plenty of airflow.

Plants such as orchids and bromeliads draw their moisture and nutrients from the air. They don't naturally live in soil, so good airflow is especially important. Orchid pots with decorative openings in their sides let these plants get the air they need. Pair a cherry-flowered bromeliad with a breezy orchid pot in rock 'n roll red.

4. Work with water and weather

Where you plan to put your creations helps determine which containers and plants make the cut. Some containers are completely solid or have attached saucers to protect indoor and outdoor surfaces from water. Self-watering planters confine water and cut down on watering. Combine a moisture-loving African violet with a self-waterer for an instant modern classic — and a healthy plant.

The best outdoor containers stand up to weather, and look better for it.

The best outdoor containers stand up to weather, and look better for it. Rust-resistant metals and natural wood take on soft patinas from sun and rain. A chic "urban farmer" metal window box tub looks made for sun-drenched orange, red and gold nasturtiums. (Plus, it makes a great napkin and flatware holder for grill parties.) Frost-resistant stoneware withstands the rigors of heat and cold. Team the red sunrise pattern of a heavy-duty squash pot with mahogany-red autumn mums, and your garden décor is ready for cool fall weather.

With thoughtful pairings of containers and plants, you can make the perfect match as you accessorize your home and garden spaces. Pennington Garden Décor is here to help with expert tips, hands-on garden advice, and the latest in beautiful containers.

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