Containers are a great addition to any Greater Chicago landscape.

They can add unique shape, color, texture, and interest to your space. They can also be switched up by season or for variety, based on your needs.

You can also move containers to suit your purpose or refocus decorative elements in outdoor entertainment areas.

While containers are simple solutions for bringing additional pizzazz to your home landscape, managing the plants in your pots takes some finesse. You have to include the right potted plants for full sun and shade container plants to ensure they look good.

Let’s look at some tips for container gardening in Greater Chicago when it comes to plant choices so you can make a confident decision.

The Basics of Container Gardening in Greater Chicago

When deciding what plants you have in your containers, you have to think about the design that provides the most impact first.

The best look starts with “thrillers” in your container. These are the tallest plants – the ones that make your container pop and give it vertical height. They have blooms that draw the eye.

container garden with geranium and spike

Following thrillers are the “fillers,” those plants that fill the space at the base of your container, adding some complementary or contrasting color and texture.

Finally, you have your “spillers.” These are those plants that cascade over the sides of your pots, bringing length and intrigue.

As you choose your thrillers, fillers, and spillers, you have to consider potted plants for full sun, as well as shade plants for containers.

Best Container Garden Plants for Sun

Even though you might want to choose some plants over others, you have to consider the location of your container first and foremost to ensure success.

When it comes to container plants for full sun, you’re looking at locations that receive at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Areas that receive approximately 3 to 6 hours of direct sun can accommodate plants for partial sun/partial shade.

container gardens in sun

For tall sun lovers as thrillers, try:

  • Hydrangea - The pink or blue globe-shaped blooms of hydrangeas amid large, green leaves can be showstoppers in pots.
  • Palms - Small palms can bring big wow factors to pots with their large leaves and tropical feel.
  • Tall Grasses - Everything from Karl Foerster reed grass, maiden grass, liriope, and dwarf fountain grass can bring some grassy height with plumes and interesting color.
  • Cannas - Cannas or canna lilies love full sun and show off tall, dramatic bright reddish-orange blooms.

For fillers, try:

  • Sunpatiens - SunPatiens continuously bloom throughout the summer’s heat and humidity. They provide brilliant color in shades ranging from light pinks and whites to soft lilacs and neon pinks and even to deeper reds and oranges.
  • Petunia - Coming in a variety of pinks, whites, and purples, as well as other shades, petunias provide flowers all summer long -- even during those super hot days.

patio with potted plants in sun

For spillers, try:

  • Potato Vine - The large, lime-colored, heart-shaped leaves of the sweet potato vine lift up the plants around it with a contrasting shade, while the purple version does the same but provides that dark backdrop or deeper partner color to other landscape plants.
  • Creeping Jenny - Golden creeping Jenny can add pops of bright green that dangle over container sides.

Best Container Garden Plants For Shade

When it comes to your shadier locations, you want to make sure you opt for plants that can handle the lack of sunshine.

container garden planting with grasses and begonia

Begonia - Want shade container plants that brighten up dark spots? Begonias do the trick by providing continuous summer color. These eye-popping plants bloom in shades from rich reds to bright pinks, yellows, oranges, and even whites.

Impatiens - These shade-loving flowers grow 10-16 inches tall and 10-15 inches wide, blooming in colors of white, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and yellow.

Elephant Ears - Though they are tropical plants, these bold, big leaves prefer shade to partial shade when grown in pots outdoors.

Coleus - Ranging in many shades, from magenta to purple to chartreuse to ruby red and orange and even spotted or veined, these colorful foliage plants can brighten up even the darkest corners of your landscape.

Pick the Best Plants for Your Containers in Any Location

Blooms and color can do such great things for your home landscape. That’s what makes container gardening in Greater Chicago so much fun.

But choosing the right plants can be tricky. You might even feel overwhelmed with all your choices.

Don’t despair! There are some great options for sun or shade, so that all your containers look great. Let KD Landscape help you make your pots gleam.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can transform your suburban Chicago yard with containers? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare containers that bring a wow factor to your space all year long.

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