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Tips for Grouping Pots

A mix of different-sized pots for added dimension to your garden.

An assortment of potted succulents can make a beautiful garden for a patio, deck or courtyard—especially if you apply basic design principles to the entire grouping.

When deciding how and where to group pots, use any nonnegotiable aspect of the site—such as the color of a wall, flooring or trim— as your inspiration for contrasting or repeating the kinds of pots you choose. If your patio is surrounded by a hedge, for example, red-glazed pots will stand out against green foliage.

Aim to fill the space so that the effect is just right rather than too much or too little. For example, a half-dozen 2-inch pots in an entryway would seem off, but those same pots would suit a windowsill. Several 1-gallon pots might be in scale with a patio but would be sparse when spread along a pathway. One way to make too-small pots fit a large space is to cluster and elevate them— perhaps atop a garden bench, shelves, pot stands, overturned pots, bricks, stone slabs, concrete blocks or even a stepladder.

Pots in a grouping might contain an eclectic assortment of plants, but for continuity, repeat a few throughout—such as sempervivums, Aeonium 'Sunburst', or blue-gray Agave parryi. To enhance the sense of being enveloped in a garden, include tall plants such as beaucarneas, dracaenas, yuccas, Kalanchoe beharensis or Euphorbia ingens.

Because wet soil is heavy and dampness can be destructive to wood and other porous materials, before you group pots on a deck, balcony or rooftop, make sure the area can handle their combined weight and is protected from moisture that accumulates beneath.

This post is excerpted from Succulent Container Gardens (Timber Press, 2010) by Debra Lee Baldwin.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Learn how to create unique container gardens using everyday materials with Small-Space Container Gardens.

The Encyclopedia of Container Plants provides a wealth of inspiration for creating eye-catching combinations of container plants.

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