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Decorative Outdoor Planter Ideas

Decorative Outdoor Planter Ideas

I am always on the lookout for creative decorative outdoor planter ideas. I find them on walks around my neighborhood, on garden tours, at botanical gardens, even at some of my local nurseries. Besides the endless array of foliage and bloom choices, the containers themselves can also play into the look – or fade into the background, letting the plants get all their attention. It all depends on the look you are going for. Either way, I look forward to putting together my own planters each spring.  

Outdoor Planter Ideas that will Give Your Exterior a Unique Look 

Planter Ideas for the Front of the Yard

These planter ideas for the front of the house come from home gardens I have visited. I like taking inspiration from simple, low-budget gardens so they can be affordable, realistic and not break the bank.

It is always fun to make the front of the garden welcoming. Neighbors tend to like it because it adds to the over all curb appeal of the house and community.

Have a look at these ideas and see what you can do for your front yard.

Porch with Large Flower Urns

If given a choice, I would always choose one giant spectacular flowerpot or urn rather than a bunch of small ones. Go big or go home!  

Plant Ideas for floral designs using large urns or pots 

  • Red impatiens with dark foliage (Infinity Dark Pink)
  • New Guinea Impatiens by Proven Winners is a good example
  • Superbells Yellow petunias 
  • A variegated ivy 
  • Blue lobelia 
  • Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila) for tiny white flowers 

The choice of sleek, modern black urns filled with deep velvet red petunias, tall grasses, and flowing vines goes very nicely together, making the front of the house very inviting. 


Hanging Baskets of Color

Repetition is powerful in a garden. Some homeowners choose to line the entire front porch with matching baskets filled with flowers like petunias. Sticking to one color scheme is an easy way to make a grand statement. 

Plant Ideas for hanging baskets 

  • Begonias 
  • Fuchsias  
  • Petunias  
  • Pelargoniums 
  • Verbena 
  • Sweet Alyssum 

Planters on Porch Steps

Again, keeping with a select color palette and selection of plants makes this simple arrangement stand out much more than it would with a bunch of random plants. 

Plant Ideas for planters on porch steps 

  • Geranium 
  • Lilac
  • Hyacinth  

Front Fence Garden

A row of flowering perennials is very pretty both in the yard and from the sidewalk. The figures sitting on the fence, painted to match, add whimsy. This reminds me of our home while growing up.

We had a lovely white picket fence. Every year during Springtime my mom would plant beautiful blooming flower plants in a row. Some would grow higher up the fence, making it look like a magical botanical garden. We pretended we were princesses living in a castle.  

Plant Ideas for lining along a fence 

  • Roses
  • Lantana 
  • Black-eyes Susan Vine 
  • Climbing Hydrangea 

5 Tips for Perfect Outdoor Planters

Over the past few years, I have followed a simple formula for planting my outdoor flower planters and it has worked like a charm.

I always start at my local nursery and stock up on my favorite plant and flower combinations. After an hour (or a few hours) of work, you will be able to step back and admire the glowing results.

I thought I’d share a few tips and outdoor planter ideas just in case you are wondering what to plant in an outdoor planter… or how. Also, three plants are all it takes to have a perfectly gorgeous planter full of luscious bloom, so read on for the secret! 

01. Buying plants for the lighting condition where they will be planted

The most important thing before shopping for plants is to determine the amount of light and/or shade your planters will receive. If you match the right plant to the right conditions, you will be golden.

Below are some of my favorite selections that do well in full sun. It thrives in full sun, which is great because my entryway receives plenty of direct sunlight.

Keep in mind they will fill out quite a bit in a few weeks, consider leaving a little breathing room between plants to allow for growth.

  • Daylilies. daylilies have much more to offer than the popular gold everblooming variety. Although the color spectrum is limited to the warmer side of the color wheel, interesting color patterns and flower forms take the available cultivar number into the thousands. Full sun is best, although darker varieties may benefit from afternoon shade to prevent sunscald.
  • Begonias. Begonias come in a ton of deep, saturated shades including white, pink, orange, rose, or red. They bloom continuously without deadheading (pinching off spent flowers) until a hard frost. They are almost impossible to kill! Some types are grown for their spectacular foliage. Most need part of the full sun. 
  • Marigolds. If you are looking for annuals that thrive on neglect, choose marigolds! They do not mind heat or drought and will last until the first hard freeze. Their bright colors really pop into planters! Pinch off the spent flowers to keep them from blooming. 
  • Herbs. Make your patio pots do double-duty by adding beauty and giving you fresh herbs for dinner! For full sun, you cannot beat basil; look for several types including Italian, Genovese, purple and Thai. Rosemary is another sun lover. If you have mostly shade, consider cilantro, parsley, and thyme, which like sun but do okay in shade. 
  • Sweet Alyssum. One of my must haves. This sturdy annual looks amazing cascading out of planters or window boxes. Place pots near seating areas so you can enjoy their honey-sweet scent. It prefers full sun but will take a little shade.  

02. Find a Winning Color Palette

When I visit the local nursery to get my plants, I try to group plants in threes with contrasting yet pleasing color combos (again, keeping in mind grouping plants with similar light needs together). Try mixing the plants containing these shades: 

  • Light or chartreuse green (like Creeping Jenny, Golden Coleus, or Sweet Potato Vine Marguerite) 
  • Dark purple leaves (like Dracana Spikes or Purple Queen) 
  • Silver sage leaves (like Lambs Ear or Silver Edge Lavender)
  • Bright, bold flowers (like Petunias, New Guinea Impatiens, Verbena, Vinca) 
  • Variegated leaves (like Vinca Vine, Tricolor Sweet Potato Vine, or Caladium)  


03. Save money by adding a filler at the bottom of the planters

Here is a tip for saving some money and making your planters lighter. You do not need to fill the entire planter with soil, just the top 2/3 or so where the roots will be.

I place a ‘filler’ such as empty plastic water bottles or upside-down plastic plant pots at the bottom. You know all those small plant containers you have laying around from when you purchased your plants? Use those.  

I usually purchase multiple herb plants at a time and sometimes find myself with 5 or more small plant containers in my garage.

By taking this step your planter will weigh less too. Making it easy to move them around as you wish. Just make sure not to fully block any drainage holes. 

04. Do not toss out old planters just because you do not like the color, simply give them a new life with paint spray.

See those bright red planters that make my heart sing? They used to be green. And they were pretty when they were green, but… they were not ‘me.’

Grab one can of spray paint from your local craft store or hardware store of the color of your choice and take it to town by painting all your old pots the same color.

Not only will they sing to you, but the decorative outdoor planters will give your home a new curb appeal look that will please the entire neighborhood.  

05. How to create the perfect planter design ideas? Go for a thriller, a spiller, and a filler

Your ‘thriller’ is the knockout punch of the group, usually the tallest.  A ‘spiller’ is one that will trail down the sides of the planter.  Your ‘filler’ is what goes in between – Consider using wave petunias or another bold flower for this one. Here are two decorative outdoor planter ideas that look great together. 

1. Front porch or space with more shade than sun – plant combination:

  • Thriller: Caladium 
  • Spiller: Vinca Vine 
  • Filler: Calibrachoa (and a small Dracaena Spike, barely visible here) 

2. For the deck, or an outdoor space that gets more sun – plant combination: 

  • Thriller: Setcreasea Purple Queen 
  • Spiller: Creeping Jenny 
  • Filler: ‘Wild Rose’ Verbena 


These are my tips for stunning patio planter ideas. Remember, you decide what to plant in your outdoor planters. Choose those plants that makes you smile when you look at them and those that you believe will complement your homes colors and design.  

You just will not believe how much a little elbow grease will pay off all summer long! The transformation on your outdoors will take everyone’s breath away every time they pass by.   

About The Author

Wanda Lopez

Wanda Lopez a blogger at heart and shares her insight on all things food, recipes, home décor, travel and more at She’s a passionate content editor and contributor for household brands such as Kraft, Publix, Ford, Best Buy and more--all while balancing work, motherhood and all things in between. An educator and avid photographer, she is in love with design, food and the outdoors.

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