Colorful spring container ideas herald the arrival of spring in style. By choosing a combination of spring bulbs and long-flowering plant varieties like pansies, primulas and wallflowers you can create some real wow-factor in pots and planters.
Whether you've planted bulbs yourself or are buying ready flowered bulbs in spring, mixing color, texture and shape will give you the best results in your container. Layering up the look as you go with a range of different plants will give you a long-lasting display that will take center stage in your spring garden ideas.
The brilliant options will add pockets of color to lift your garden at a time when there’s not much else happening. Just be sure to position your planters where you can see them for maximum impact, such as by entrances, on the patio and near paths.
18 beautiful spring container ideas to brighten up your garden
From simple styles and bright berries to the colorful blooms of the best spring flowering plants, there's something for everyone with these fresh new planting ideas.
1. Make a plant theatre of spring containers
Raise your collection of spring containers to eye level so you can better appreciate them. At the same time transform a sheltered corner of your garden into a focal point with a stylish plant theatre.
Tiered shelving is the perfect stage for a spring display, and you can switch garden planters in and out as they fade to keep the interest going. Either choose a single variety of spring bulbs or mix up different types.
Your plant theatre will need sturdy shelves that can accommodate a range of decently sized terracotta pots or alternatively try using an old wooden stepladder. Using similar pots helps to pull together the look.
2. Try upcycling for a vintage look
Spring is the time for a little makeover project to add a retro feel to your planter game. This wooden wheelbarrow has been transformed by a couple of coats of the best exterior wood paint and the pretty planting adds the perfect finishing touch.
Aim for a nostalgic look with a mix of old-fashioned favorites. A combo of pansies and primula tumble over the edge, while the heart of the display is filled with a dwarf pink azalea and Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’ to add shape and soft texture. A plummy-pink hydrangea and spiky blue salvia add height.
Choose a wood paint with a tough waterproof finish that resists cracking and flaking and is guaranteed to offer protection so your planter will last.
3. Include fragrant spring flowers
Wallflowers are a popular cottage garden favorite and currently enjoying a revival. They also thrive in containers, and are best positioned near doors and windows to enjoy their fabulous fragrance, which bees love too.
Wallflowers come in a range of vibrant colors like orange, red and yellow, as well as pastel shades of mauve and cream. They offer a good looking and long-flowering container display from March onwards.
They are super-easy to grow flowers from seeds and you can also buy them as small plants. There are perennial varieties too that return year after year with very little effort. Try underplanting them with tulips in the same colours for a co-ordinated look.
4. Use contrasting colors for impact
The latest pots and planters are made of textured and stippled concrete, and come in on-trend shades of grey. Pack them with plants in contrasting colors for an immediate hit.
Miniature types of tulips are perfect if space is limited. They look punchy in a pot, especially if you choose strong colours like magenta pink fringed with a stripy detail.
Kaufmanniana tulips, also known as water lily tulips, are another good choice for container gardening ideas. They are early to flower in spring (typically March and April) and feature flowers like miniature water lilies on short stems which are often bi-color.
5. Add a jolt of yellow for a classic spring vibe
The cup-shaped bright yellow flowers and dainty green ruff-like collars of winter aconites are a welcome sight in February and March when color in the garden is rare.
Their native habitat is woodland but they will thrive in a container too and are easy to establish and maintenance free. They will also attract pollinating insects to the garden. They like a fertile soil that doesn’t dry out and will do well in full sun or partial shade.
One of the spring garden jobs that should be top of your list is to plant aconites in the ground once they've finished flowering in the container. You will end up with a carpet of flowers.
6. Get creative with color
Bring out your artistic side with your spring container ideas. A colorful mix of hyacinths, miniature narcissus, primroses, grape hyacinths and iris in a retro trough planter looks just like a painting and will work a treat as a stylish window box idea to maximize your curb appeal.
Make sure your container has drainage holes and a layer of crocks, then add a good quality multi-purpose peat-free compost.
Plant bulbs at a depth that’s two to three times their height. The best way to plant a bulb lasagne is to plant biggest bulbs first, followed by a bit more compost, then the next size of bulbs, and so on. Try to space bulbs about 2in (5cm) apart in the pot.
When the pot is almost full, add a decorative layer of moss as the finishing touch.
7. Use complementary spring colors
Yellow and purple makes a striking combination when it comes to planting up your garden and this works especially well when planting bulbs. You will be following the color wheel if you pair golden narcissus with inky purple polyanthus in a planter, and the result is instant wow.
But really it’s up to you: simply use your intuition and plant colors that you think will look good next to each other. Some of the best ideas come when you throw the rulebook away!
8. Opt for understated elegance
The combo of a tall planter with parrot tulips makes a stylish statement for spring porches and patio gardening ideas. The shape of your pot is everything when it comes to what it can add to your space as a design feature.
As well as looking good, tall planters are best if space is tight and are also great for layering up bulbs in ‘lasagne’ style planting. Group a few together for a cool and contemporary look. Many of the latest designs use recycled rubber material which makes them a good choice for dodging frost damage too.
As well as ticking the sustainable box the newest designs are self-watering too with built-in water reservoirs so your plants never dry out. Easy and low maintenance!
9. Beautify your entrance
Go for a supersize planter and pack it with brilliant blooms to add the most welcoming of touches to your front garden. When these beauties burst open it means spring is finally here and your colorful spring container ideas will be admired by one and all.
If you missed the opportunity to plant your bulbs in fall and early winter, you can learn how to plant a last minute spring container to ensure you still get to enjoy a splash of seasonal color.
10. Max up impact with one bold color
You can create a beautiful and easy spring display using grape hyacinths (also known as muscari). These charming deep-blue flowers with their cone-shaped spikes look gorgeous planted in a large container.
They may be small, but what they lack in size, they make up for in terms of looks. They will thrive planted in a large shallow bowl-shaped planter with good quality potting compost that's kept moist. They generally flower from late January until March.
The bulbs should be planted about 1in (2.5cm) apart, with the exposed tips pointing upwards. Tuck a good layer of moss around the bulbs to help the soil retain moisture and improve the appearance of your container.
Once they've finished flowering and the grass-like foliage has nourished the bulbs transfer grape hyacinths to flower beds and garden borders.
11. Plant up an urn
Classic urns are trending right now as the go-to container for painterly flower displays by all those green-fingered Instagrammers jamming your feed.
A stone urn will add a classical touch to your container game that taps into the trend for natural materials. Think Bridgerton – after all, what's not to love about Regency-inspired spring container ideas.
Either buy urns from your favorite garden stores or pick them up on eBay. Alternatively check out your nearest reclamation or architectural salvage yard.
Lichen and moss add character to stone containers and give them an antique look. You can encourage them to grow on your urn and make it look aged by painting on a diluted mix of natural yogurt.
12. Create an eye-catching spring display
Small pots can look just as stylish as large ones if you show them off in the right way. An attractive option to display a selection of blooms is to arrange them on an outdoor plant stand. Grow auricula in traditional terracotta pots and display them against a dark background so their rich jewel-like colors look even more vivid.
There's a wide range of auricula to choose from including edged, striped and double petalled varieties, and they come into bloom from March to May. Many are heavenly scented too.
Plants should not be permanently displayed like this but they can be arranged just as they are about to come into flower. A cool, northerly wall out of strong sunlight is the best place to position your display.
13. Decorate a wall
A bright yellow primula brings sunshine color to this wall hung planter and makes a stunning contrast to the dark red cyclamen. This style of showing off plants is great for balcony gardens and terraces where you might be short of space but won't want to miss out on showing off some pretty spring container ideas.
14. Choose small but perfectly formed blooms
In gorgeous shades of lilac, blue and purple with a delicate fragrance the classic dwarf iris reticulata is a real winner in the spring garden and loves being planted in a container. Another bonus is that not only does it flower early but it flowers for a long time too.
The leaves of iris reticulata often begin to shoot in early January while there is still snow on the ground. The blooms vary from pale blue to deep violet with yellow splashes down the middle of each petal, so are guaranteed to add interest to your garden color scheme. Well-drained soil is a must.
Put your container in the right location and iris reticulata will be a low-maintenance and easy to grow option that looks fab.
15. Cram in crocuses
A set of ribbed galvanised planters make the perfect home for masses of mauve crocuses. Adding early spring color is important in the garden and crocuses perform this role with ease.
When it comes to planting crocuses in pots the trick is to cram them in, as dense planting of the bulbs creates the best results.
As early flowerers they're a great plant for pollinators as bees and other insects love to feast on their nectar when there's little else around.
16. Go vertical with bulbs
Pocket planters are a key trend when it comes to vertical gardening ideas and they're not just for the usual green wall plants like grasses and succulents either. Bulbs will thrive planted up in a vertical garden.
Pack in small bulbs like grape hyacinths and mini narcissus to add punchy color to a green wall. Layering bulbs like this is one of the best small garden ideas to help you maximize the potential of your compact space.
17. Pack a window box with color
Use a stunning color combination for an eye-catching window box that includes miniature daffodils, yellow pansies and deep maroon primulas.
All these flowers start flowering in cold weather, which gives them a head start on other plants, and their season is a long one too. Grow them individually or mixed in with other flowers for spring container ideas that will last for months.
See our tips on how to plant a window box for the most professional looking results.
18. Group spring containers together for wow
Create a dedicated area to display lots of pots of bulbs together and you will add real wow factor to your plot. It's one of the best spring container ideas to add an eye catching focal point that you can enjoy for months. And best of all it will add a real lift to the garden as winter fades into spring.
What can I plant in spring containers?
Some of the best plants for spring container ideas are of course bulbs like tulips, daffodils and crocus. These add a splash of color and lovely scent as well as successional blooms that will last over a couple of months.
Add a mix of small evergreens and other plants to fill out your pots with structure, texture and interest. Aim for one taller plant like skimmia or laurel, some fillers like hebe and heathers, and some spillers like ivy to create spring container ideas with the most impact.
How do you prepare pots for spring?
Fill pots generously as plants grow more slowly at the start of the year and you want to create a lush look. 'Typically bulbs such as hyacinths and daffodils need to be planted in fall but don’t worry if you missed the autumn window,' says Miracle Gro's (opens in new tab) gardening guru Kate Turner.
Ready flowered bulbs are available to buy in spring, so you can plant these or mix them with other plants to create a beautiful spring container. 'Alongside flowering bulbs, mix in flowers such as violas, pansies and bellis daisies to add color and vibrancy to your container,' suggests Kate. 'Foliage plants, such as trailing ivies help fill the pot and add another dimension to the aesthetic.'
Fill the container with a good peat-free compost. Before filling your container, add some broken pot pieces to cover the drainage hole. Once filled with soil add larger plants first, before the smaller plants with the ivy trailing over the edge. Firm everything in and water well. After six weeks, the plants are ready to be fed with a liquid feed.
Just remember to keep them fed, watered and deadheaded to keep your spring container ideas going for as long as possible. When the bulbs have finished flowering you can then plant them in the garden to flower again next year.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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