Plants for Garden Urns

Updated July 18, 2017

Add style, colour and fragrance to an outdoor garden, patio or entryway with plants in garden urns. A classic urn is a large vase that usually has a pedestal or feet. Contemporary garden urns can have self-watering features, solar lights in the base to illuminate plants, and can be made of lightweight material, while replicating stone planters. When planting an urn, choose the correct plants for the site, sun and water requirements. It's very important to group plants with complementary needs together.

Combining Plants in Urns

Select plants that are a mixture of three different forms. The focal point should be a vertical plant that is upright and draws the eye to the urn. The upright plant needs to have some height to balance the pedestal base of the planter. A second plant should be a horizontal, bushy type of plant that adds filler. The third type of plant should cascade or trail over the edge of the urn. Conversely, a gardener can choose to place a single plant in an urn, creating a stunning mass of colour or a single focal point.

Full Sun Plants for Urns

Anchor an urn with a white-plumed dwarf pampas grass. This drought-tolerant, sun-loving plant sports white plumes during the summer and fall. Surround the pampas with a smaller, purple fountain grass that will provide filler and colour contrast with burgundy blades and feathery plumes. Surround these grasses with light pink zinnias and white or lavender sweet alyssum. These plants will need water about twice a month in hot months, otherwise rain water will suffice.

Plants for Moderate Sun and Water

Cana grows 2 to 8 foot tall, with spikes of large red flowers. This showy bloom can anchor the urn. Plant coleus in shades of lime green and light red as filler, to weave among the cana. Choose a fragrant nemesia in a complementary shade to tie the design together. Nemesia comes in about every colour except green. These plants do best in moderate sun with regular water.

A Single Plant in an Urn

Consider buying an vibrant orange and green-coloured urn and planting orange zinnia; its flowers resemble miniature sunflowers. The effect is rich colour with summer dazzle. For a contemporary look, plant a split-leaf dwarf maple in an urn. It will adapt to the container. In the summer surround it with yellow-green annuals for a modern look. If the garden is a formal design, a classic dwarf cypress tree will look imposing in an urn.

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About the Author

Nellene Teubner Plouffe is a writer who started her journalism career as a reporter and columnist for the "Orange County Register" newspaper in 1992. In 1995, Teubner Plouffe received a first-place award in column writing from the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.