DIY spring container planting

Spring is here in the North East but the nights are still cool and dip too cold to start planting with common summer annual flowers. My friend Julie and I have a container planting business, Fresh Art Plantings that I wrote about last post. We do container plantings, container gardening in the Short Hills, Millburn, Maplewood and Summit areas of New Jersey.

Here is a great do it yourself early spring container planting guide! We used mostly pansies which are the most common cold resistant flowers. Pansies come in all different colors and shades. We chose Delta Pure Light Blue, a burgundy color called Colossus Rose and Matrix yellow.

First pick out your container. I recommend a container with a drainage hole and adding a layer of loose medium size stones to the bottom before the soil to assure proper water drainage. Fill the container with soil to about 4 inches from the top.

Next, start a layer of 6 inch potted pansies. I do not recommend using plugs for pansies in container planting, the plants become too delicate by themselves are too small to work with. For this design I used 8, 6 inch potted pansies in each container. Pull the pansies out of their pot and gently loosen the roots and soil. Then place them in the first outside layer of the container as shown mixing in added soil and gently packing them in so they will not fall out of the container:

In the second layer I used the hardy white leaf accent plant Dusty Miller which we mixed with Bellisima Red Bellis. The dusty miller will continue to grow tall and fill in height (we used 12 plugs of dusty clustered into 4 patches of 3 plants). The Bellisima Red Bellis (I used 5 plants quart size each) are great cool weather pansy pals. These are in the daisy family with cute button flowers and also come in light pink and white. We chose the burgundy red to match the colors of the brick on our client's home:

Last, building upon the first two layers is a third of Crescendo Golden Primula. A primrose. I chose this as the center because of their height, bright sunny color and cool weather blooming.

Fertilizer like this continual release is great to get the best growth out of your planting. Sprinkle generously! :

The next design was at a side entrance of the house. In this one I used a boxwood shrub as the focal point:

First, plant the boxwood and loosen it's root ball with the boxwood's soil level even with the top of the container. Next add in the 6 inch pansies (in this one I used 8):

Lastly, add in the dusty miller plugs clustered in plants of 3 for more stability:

Tuck the dusty miller clusters in and about the pansies. I used 3 clusters of three in this design:

In a week or two, the dusty miller will take off and add another great texture to the planting.

For the front door plantings we used pansies, dusty miller and boxwood trees.

9 planters and 80 6" pansies later we were finished! I hope this helps to show you some ideas to add curb appeal to your home during these cold spring nights. I can't wait for the warmer weather to bring in more flowering options and trips to the growers. Don't worry you can come too :)


  1. I love your tutorial Tina! Even a guy like me might be able to replicate something nice like this. I bet the homeowner was "very" happy

  2. thanks for the tips! I am really excited to get started!

  3. Where did you find your containers for the boxwood arrangement? Size and Price you used or where they were purchased would be great...thanks


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