Ken Selody, Atlock Farm, Somerset, New Jersey
Two strong-willed plants make up this compact but airy container: Lime-green Asparagus sprengeri, a frothy favorite, is planted in a checkerboard pattern with a variegated Euonymus. The composition, with great color and textural contrasts, really pops against a wall.
Keeping this pair happy involves soil checks every other day and watering, about that often, with a dose of liquid fertilizer.
Source: Tudor Trough terra-cotta planter (similar to shown), $40, evanpeters.com.
Pam Baggett, Former nursery owner, Cedar Grove, North Carolina
Rising from the centers of these tall pots is giant elephant's ear (Alocasia macrorrhiza). The leaves are big, dramatic, and reminiscent of the Tropics. Variegated Curcuma petiolata 'Emperor' brings pale green and white to the mix, and Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire' adds firecracker color.
These plants need lots of water (up to three times a day in hot weather) and a granular, slow-release fertilizer on planting.
Source: Large Rosenpot Loft planter, in Beige fiberglass, $270, evanpeters.com.
Kevin Reiner, Kevin Reiner Design, Granville, Ohio
Airy plants make up this romantic display, which looks right at home in a Grecian-style container. The crisp greens of Philodendron selloum 'Hope' and Platycerium bifurcatum light up when paired with a striped umbrella plant (Cyperus albostriatus 'Variegatus'), white-flowering 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, gold honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida 'Edmee Gold'), and trailing, silver-green Pilea glaucophylla.
The plants require only bimonthly feeds of balanced liquid fertilizer and, typically, watering every other day.
Source: Large leaf urn, in Natural finish, $218, campaniainternational.com.
Lisa Freed, Wells Medina Nursery, Medina, Washington
This swirl-pattered urn features several shade lovers, all in soothing greens with the occasional hit of white: Glossy Aspidistra elatior, flowering Begonia semperflorens 'Prelude White,' lime-bright Heuchera 'Citronelle,' and fresh-green Bergenia 'Beethoven' gather around variegated dogwood Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold.'
The mix needs to be fed at planting time with a granular, slow-release fertilizer and watered every other day. The dogwood should be clipped back if it gets rangy.
Source: Ravenna urn, in Verde finish, $238, campaniainternational.com.
Bill Bauer, The garden design studio Tamatha Nibert, Vivian Loftin & Associates, Austin, Texas
Bauer's and Nibert's goal was to introduce light and color through foliage contrast -- hence the dark upright Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Fastigiata') combined with a chartreuse ruffle of Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita' and grassy Carex 'Silver Sceptre.' The terra-cotta planter harmonizes with the pale greens as well as the dark ones.
None of the plants require much attention beyond regular watering (every second or third day) and perhaps a starter dose of slow-release food when planted.
Source: Baytree large square terra-cotta planter, $120, evanpeters.com.
Big and bold, tuberous begonias bring beauty and color to your home throughout the growing season. These shade-tolerant annuals thrive when they receive dappled sun all day or full morning sun followed by afternoon shade. Plants bloom from early summer until fall, and they grow best where summers are moderate. In frost-free climates, potted begonias can winter in their containers, if kept dry.
This grouping features (clockwise from top left) 'Venus,' which grows 2 feet tall; sturdy 'Primrose'; voluptuous, fragrant 'Scentiment Peach,' with silver-veined leaves; and 'Isabella,' a picotee (meaning its petals are edged in a second color).
Begonia grandis evansiana
These cultivars show off begonias' diversity. 1. 'Apricot Delight' 2. 'Snow Goose' 3. 'Festiva' 4. 'Ivanhoe' 5. 'Helena' 6. 'Jean Blair' 7. 'Saturn' 8. 'Gypsy Maiden' 9. 'Sceptre' 10. 'Mardi Gras'
Heat-tolerant 'Papoose' need a pot that is tall enough to let the fuchsia's red-and-purple flowers hang freely.
A little chaos can lend interest and intrigue to any container planting. Try similar hues, disparate weights and densities, or a riotous combination of shapes, like this mixture of Caladium 'Aaron,' Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Diamond Frost,' and Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue.'
Easy-to-grow coleus, fuchsia, and moneywort create a rich palette in an attractive bronze-colored base. Pictured: Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Religious Radish,' Fuchsia 'Coralle,' and Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea.'
Coleus, Fuchsia, and Moneywort
Tropical plants shoot orange and blue flares, framed by pale-green ferns and an understated pot. Here shade-tolerant annuals Begonia 'Bonfire' and Browallia americana are paired with the fern Nephrolepis obliterata 'Kimberly Queen' to enhance the arrangement.