13 Container Arrangements for Labor Day
Are you looking for ideas to build a container arrangement this Labor Day Weekend? In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares some ideas for creating a stunning arrangement that will last for multiple seasons.
Gardening doesn’t always have to be an all-encompassing or large-scale endeavor. Some of the loveliest gardens are finely curated arrangements that can be moved from place to place and cared for easily. This weekend, refresh your garden with a variety of Labor Day containers that offer the best of the season.
Some benefits of container gardening are the absence of weeds, ease of care, and their space-saving elements. A little late-season planting is worth the effort- you can bring container arrangements indoors to enjoy for the cold months ahead.
Building a container arrangement is not difficult, but we have a few tips to streamline the process. With these recommendations, creating a stunning container arrangement for Labor Day is a smooth and painless process.
Elements of a Container Arrangement
When designing a container arrangement, there are some general guidelines that you can follow to help create balance and beauty. Consider color, texture, fragrance, and variety. When selecting plants, choose a thriller, filler, and spiller for maximum appeal.
When deciding on plants for your container arrangement, envision the color palette you want to work within. Often, it is easiest to choose one plant you feel drawn to and work around it in a color family that complements that special plant. A monochromatic arrangement can be just as stunning as one that is colorful.
I love a warm autumnal color palette for Labor Day containers. Warm red, yellow, and orange shades coordinate well with other holiday décor. Shades of green and white mixed together also make a delicate and beautiful combination.
Use the right vessel for a container arrangement that you love. You can be as traditional or unconventional as you like here. Consider where you are creating this masterpiece when considering size, shape, color, and style.
My advice is always to go a little larger than your initial instinct. Give your plants some space to grow and fill in. Allow their roots the room to get established without competing for nutrients and space.
For a traditional look, concrete pedestal planters are always a stunning choice. Terracotta pots are a classic with an earthy feeling, and they can be aged or treated to increase their beauty with a unique patina.
Don’t feel limited to conventional containers. An old wheelbarrow, a wine barrel, or a narrow raised bed can feel interesting and fun in the garden. Unconventional materials can create an exciting vibe in the garden.
Growing up, my mother had an antique potty chair that she converted into a planter. Unconventional for certain, but it certainly was a conversation piece!
Use a variety of plants for your Labor Day containers. When selecting your plants, consider color, texture, size, and growth habits. Add accents with broad, bolder leaves if your focal point is tall and wispy. Look to plants with fuzzy leaves to soften and temper plants with a spiky or angular appearance.
Fragrance is important as well. Adding plants with fragrant flowers or aromatic foliage brings a new element to your arrangement. Use your senses to create a combination that looks, feels, and smells complementary.
Your thriller is the focal point of your arrangement. This element should be the largest plant in your arrangement, and it should make a bold statement. Ornamental grasses and large tropical plants like elephant ear, ginger, or cannas make excellent thrillers.
This is the central plant in your arrangement, and its placement will depend upon the placement of the container itself. If your container will be viewed from the front, the thriller should be placed at the back of the container. If your container will be viewed from all sides, place your thriller in the center and fill in the space around it.
The filler does what it says: it fills empty space in the arrangement. For Labor Day containers, pick a filler that will bloom until frost.
Look for plants with a mounding or rounded growth habit that will quickly fill in the space. You can use one type of plant or a combination in your design.
Plants like calibrachoa, petunia, and coleus don’t produce especially noteworthy flowers, but the foliage is stunning and provides long-lasting color to an arrangement.
These plants should be placed halfway between your thriller and the edges of the container. This is a great place to use herbs that grow well in containers, like thyme and ornamental basil.
The final piece to creating an attractive and multi-dimensional arrangement is the spiller. This is the element that grows over the side of the container and toward the ground. Your spiller can also act as a filler depending on its growth habit, but it should have a trailing form that will cause it to overflow the container as it grows.
The placement of your container or pot will determine how much of this plant and where it is placed. For a container that will be viewed from all sides, add this plant to more than one spot or all the way around for a uniform appearance. If your pot is against a wall, place the spiller plants around the exposed sides.
Spillers can be flowering or non-flowering plants, depending on the look you want to go for. Some great flowering spillers for your Labor Day containers include trailing begonia, sweet alyssum, and creeping zinnia. If you prefer more foliage, look to plants like ivy, licorice plant, or sweet potato vine.
Autumn Color Magic
I am drawn to warm colors as we head into the fall season. There is a coziness to these colors that tempers and complements the cooling weather soon to come.
A tall, wispy grass, like purple fountain grass, makes a stunning foundation. This texture is reminiscent of a dried flower arrangement, which always has an autumnal feel to me.
Chrysanthemums like to be planted in fall and are wonderful for festive color. Strawflowers make amazing dried flowers and, along with marigolds, scream that autumn has arrived.
Spice Things Up with Herbs
Add some flowering herbs to your containers for planters in high-traffic or outdoor living areas. Start with something tall, like lemongrass or scallions planted in the center of your container. Lemongrass makes a great thriller and is unappealing to mosquitoes- always a win.
Fill around your focal point with herbs like basil, rosemary, and mint for a beautiful and fragrant arrangement. Add a plant with small flowers for a pop of color to brighten up your arrangement. A trailing herb variety will tie everything together.
I’m always looking for a way to draw more pollinators to my garden. More pollinators equals more flowers, more fruits, and more vegetables. Choose something with some height as your focal point. Salvia, ‘African Blue’ basil, or anise hyssop are tall plants that are very appealing to pollinators.
Bees love blue flowers, while butterflies and hummingbirds favor red. Keep that in mind as you select your filler and spiller. This is your opportunity to create a very colorful container with lots of nectar and pollen-rich flowers. Sweet Alyssum makes a great spiller with its stunning simplicity and appeal to pollinating insects.
Does your covered porch or entryway need some sprucing up? An abundance of shade-tolerant plants perform beautifully in a container arrangement. Coleus is colorful, fast-growing, and prefers some shelter from the hot sun. Shades of red, purple, and chartreuse are lovely in an autumn arrangement.
Begonias love partial shade and produce lovely flowers and attractive foliage. Adding some purple oxalis to your arrangement will add movement and color. Creeping Jenny makes an excellent spiller for your shade container arrangement and looks wonderful with coleus.
Playing with textures always makes for an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. I love the look of a delicate fern mingled with some colorful caladiums. The juxtaposition of the large-scale leaves with the small ones makes this an intriguing combination.
Tie your textural combination together with some scarlet geraniums or creeping ivy. Both plants commonly have variegated leaves in interesting and unique shapes. Zebrina is another great plant that melds well with these partial shade lovers with interesting patterns and textures.
Keep it Classy
You can’t go wrong with roses as the ultimate in classic beauty. ‘Autumn Damask’ roses bloom in the fall and are delightfully fragrant. Try bright-colored varieties in orange, yellow, or red to bring in the warm tones of the season. Place this container arrangement near a seating area to best enjoy the perfume of your focal point.
Mix in some small flowering plants like lavender or baby’s breath for texture. These plants are both great companions for roses. Sweet alyssum is another good companion that makes a perfect spiller. I love roses combined with berries. A blackberry or raspberry bush looks stunning with roses in a large container.
Evergreen Focal Point
With cool weather ahead, looking at evergreen plants for your container arrangements makes sense. Boxwood looks excellent in a container or combined with other evergreen plants. Small varieties of juniper also look incredible all year in a container.
You may have some difficulty finding smaller-scale evergreens, but that makes this type of container a great place to mix in annual flowering plants with your evergreen focal point. Your annuals will die off in winter, but the evergreen will remain. This allows you to change up your arrangement with each season.
Bring the Drama
If big, bold, colorful containers are your passion, I say go big or go bigger. This can take a lot of different shapes. Choosing a colorful or unique container can draw extra attention to your statement piece. Look to the unexpected, like a unique material, bold color choice, or fun repurposed container.
Focus on a fun thriller like bright lantanas for big, bold drama in the flower department. Tropical plants do a good job of this. Cannas are always a dramatic choice. A small fruit tree makes a big statement as well. Choose a variety of colorful plants with different textures and growth habits to boost the drama.
You don’t have to stop with one container here to go even further. Think about a grouping of containers of different sizes. This is a statement-maker as well.
Piggybacking off the dramatic arrangement, you can create a special drama with tropical plants. Elephant ears or an ornamental banana tree make excellent thrillers. Their large, distinctive leaves shout tropical paradise.
Zebrina makes a stunning spiller in a tropical arrangement with its lovely variegation. For fillers, look to flowering tropicals like begonia, clivia, anthurium, and bromeliads or air plants for extra variation and texture.
Consider adding a variety of ginger to your tropical arrangement. There are so many beautiful flowering varieties that appeal to pollinators and smell wonderfully spicy.
A hanging container arrangement can involve one container or several placed nearby. Think about layers when you create a hanging arrangement, as your spiller will likely be the star of the show. This will be the most visible element, so look for something with interesting foliage or flowers.
Petunias are great for hanging containers, as are zebrina, portulaca, and chenille plants. Build upwards from your spiller using other plants with a trailing or mounding habit, depending on the look you want and the placement of the container.
Consider an arrangement of succulent varieties for a wonderfully low-maintenance Labor Day container that will last a long time with little to no fertilizer or attention.
Succulents typically have similar needs, but those needs differ from most other plants. Mixing them with herbaceous plants can quickly lead to root rot, so they thrive better when grouped together with other succulents.
Burrow Tail makes an interesting and fun spiller. Hoyas, string plants, and ice plants also make great spillers in a succulent garden, and many will flower if given the proper conditions. These plants can be delicate, so handle them carefully when working with multiple plants in one container.
There are also some great choices for thrillers in the succulent world. Aloe or Agave makes a bold statement with tall, pointed leaves. Sansevieria, or snake plant, looks great and has some height, as do many kalanchoe varieties. Kalanchoe also flowers, and some varieties are breathtaking in bloom.
Cottage Garden Capsule
Cottage gardens have a special charm created by mingling plants that look somewhat unplanned yet meticulously curated. Combining perennial plants with herbs and other edibles gives a cottage garden its signature appearance of being slightly wild and undone while simultaneously deliberate and useful.
Lavender makes a wonderful foundation for a cottage garden container. A climbing plant is another type that makes a great thriller in a cottage garden, and trellises are very much in keeping with this gardening style.
Add some sprawling herbs like oregano as a spiller, and fill your arrangement with other flowering plants or ornamental vegetables.
If you’re looking for flowers, there are many options for an all-flowering container arrangement. Large geraniums make an excellent cool-weather thriller. Agapanthus or a hydrangea adds height to your arrangement while bringing maximum flower power.
There are almost too many plants to use in an all-flowering arrangement, but some wonderful fillers include petunias, begonias, calibrachoa, and petunias. Some of these plants act as spillers as well. Lobelia makes a wonderful spiller, and you can’t go wrong with nasturtium. When it comes to flower container arranging, the sky is the limit!
Container gardening is a fabulous way to create an easy-care, portable garden. One of the great things about a Labor Day container arrangement is that you can move it indoors in cold weather, so planting things that aren’t necessarily hardy in your zone is perfectly acceptable.
Whether you take a classic, traditional route or do something more artistic and avant-garde, containers are a great way to create a small, manageable garden. They have all the elements of a conventional, large garden wrapped up in a pretty, manageable package!