Many container plants thrive in a sunny spot – and for the best effect, it’s best to combine several different plants that complement each other. It’s not easy to get right, so we’ve done the hard work – with nine stunning combinations for you to try.
Some of the plants recommended here are not only suited to a sunny site but also to windy conditions, where compost is prone to drying out. These are useful if you’re battling with an exposed plot, including coastal and higher altitude gardens.
For more plants suited to exposed conditions, take a look at our top 10 plants for windy sites.
Discover beautiful, full-sun planting combinations for dazzling summer displays, below.
Curry plant, catmint and sea holly
The beautiful silver foliage of Helichrysum italicum softens the edge of this wooden planter, while the flowering plants (Eryngium varifolium and Nepeta x faassenii) provide height and interest at the back of the display. This is a tough combo that will withstand the elements.
Salvia, plectranthus and euphorbia
Restricting the colour palette to pink and silver gives this container a country feel with a contemporary twist. We used Salvia ‘Savannah Salmon Rose’, Plectranthus ‘Silver Shield’ and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’. The plants will mingle as the season progresses, putting on a display until the first frosts. A pale terracotta pot completes the look.
Pelargonium, petunia, lobelia and busy Lizzies
This haphazard mix of traditional summer bedding creates a display that will produce flowers for months on end. Aim for a range of shapes, colours and textures, and use a dark-glazed pot to let the blooms stand out. We went for dark red pelargonium, pink and purple petunia, dark pink busy Lizzie, violet trailing lobelia.
Dianthus, verbena and fescue
Perennial blooms of Dianthus ‘Devon Dove’, Verbena rigida and an ornamental grass, Festuca glauca, make the perfect team in a display that’s tough and perfect for an exposed spot.
Bidens, coleus, tulbaghia and euphorbia
A dark terrazzo trough allows the yellow blooms of Bidens aurea and lime foliage of Coleus ‘Lime Wizard’ to really zing. Large leaves will make an impact, and create highlights of colour with a trailing plant that has intense, vibrant blooms. The other plants used are Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’ and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’.
Fleabane, feathergrass and sea holly
Three tough perennials combine to create a pot that will hold its own in hot and windy conditions. Stipa tenuissima provides movement, while Erigeron karvinskianus will flower all summer. All plants can be transferred to the garden. We also used Eryngium variifolium.
Marguerite, feathergrass and pansy
This vibrant colour mix of container plants for full sun has a refreshing feel. Plenty of flowers, including Argyranthemum ‘Madeira’ and yellow pansy give it a pretty edge, and the ornamental grass (Stipa tenuissima) provides a textural backbone to the whole scheme. This display will last all summer, too.
Dahlia, pelargonium and verbena
A compact dahlia (Dahlia ‘Terracotta’) provides a big flower hit in this display and creates the centerpiece of the container. The interesting foliage and complementary blooms of Pelargonium ‘Occold Shield’ and Verbena ‘Peaches ‘n’ Cream’ accompany it, while a traditional terracotta pot completes the look.
Houseleeks, aloe vera, sempervivum and sedum
A contemporary metal container sets the tone for this display. The succulent plants ensure that the scheme needs very little maintenance. Aeonium arboreum ’Atropurpureum’ provides the backbone, with smaller Aloe vera, Sempervivum calcareum, Sedum spurium ‘Tricolour’, Aeonium arboreum and Sedum ‘Ruby Glow’ around it.
Looking to perk up shady spots in the garden? Our feature on container plants for shade is packed with ideas.