My Eclectic Container Style

By Mary Ellen Ellis | April 21, 2021
Image by Techa Tungateja
by Mary Ellen Ellis
April 21, 2021

Eclectic may be a nice way to describe how I choose and arrange containers on the back and front patios of my house. I like variety, although the overarching plan behind my selections is budget. All the same is boring, but I still like to make the arrangement look nice. 

Terracotta Pots

Hands down, my favorite container is a classic terracotta pot. It reminds me of sunny, warm climates, and it’s a perfect color to set off green foliage and bright flowers. It’s almost like a garden neutral. 

I also like the way terracotta ages. Terracotta is made from porous clay, so when you water plants it seeps through the pot. It leaves behind a whitish mineral crust from the minerals naturally in the tap water. It’s an aged look that I feel adds to the character of a container garden. 

Plastic Containers

When I first started container gardening, I wanted only terracotta, but plastic is so much cheaper. My budget insisted I buy just one or two nice pots and intersperse them with cheaper pots. First, I bought the plastic pots that mimic terracotta. They felt cheap, though, because they couldn’t live up to the real deal. 

This is when I discovered the joy of an eclectic set of containers on the back patio. I chose green plastic pots to blend into the garden and supplemented them with some bright yellow, white, and even red containers. I like the mix of colors. 

Foam Planters

For my big containers at the front door, with my most impressive and costly arrangements of geraniums, spikes, alyssum, and creeping jenny, I use foam planters. The foam containers are nice because they are molded.

Molded foam containers have textures and patterns that give them the look of a fancy concrete planter. I feel like the texture on mine sets off the arrangement nicely and adds a more elegant touch to the front entrance to my home. 

In addition to all the planters I’ve bought over the years for my eclectic container garden, I have some special ones. There’s the yellow ceramic pot a friend gave me decades ago with a cutting from her spider plant. Then there are the terracotta plants my mom painted for me as gifts. 

When it all comes together, these varied containers just work. They don’t look messy; they look loved and carefully-selected.

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