Just as with traditional gardens, beautiful container gardens begin with a just-right blend of plants. This is true whether you’re designing a vegetable container garden or combination herb planter. Of course, the success of any container garden depends on filling pots with quality potting mix.
Here are some combinations you can try:
Pizza Garden (22-inch or larger pot – a half whiskey barrel works well): determinate (bush) tomato, oregano, chives, basil
Lemonade Garden (20-inch or larger pot): Stevia, lemon balm, lemon mint, lemon basil
Bouquet Garni Herb Garden (20-inch or larger pot): rosemary, thyme, sage, small bay laurel
Mexican Herb Garden (16-inch or larger pot): Cilantro, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint (Mint spreads easily, so plant it first in a smaller pot, then plant that pot in the larger container)
Ice Cream Herb Garden (16-inch or larger pot): Lemon verbena, anise hyssop, rose geranium; or mint, thyme, lemon verbena.
Some container gardens feature plants that help each other to grow better. These plant combos are known as companion garden plants. The thought behind companion plants is that one may have a scent or color that repels or helps disguise its partner from pests. In other cases, a companion garden plant may attract beneficial insects, which eat any problem pests that arrive.
Container vegetable gardens that feature companion garden plants often include herbs or flowers. For instance, plant cabbage, broccoli or Chinese cabbage with mint, which helps to deter pesky cabbage moths. These combinations can look beautiful, too. Try planting white and green variegated pineapple mint alongside red cabbage, or Artwork Stir-Fry Broccoli with lemon mint. Use an 18-inch or larger pot for either of these combinations.
A few more combinations…
Try planting bush beans with marigolds, a natural Mexican bean beetle deterrent, in a 14-inch pot. If you want cucumbers, plant a 16-inch pot with a bush cucumber (with trellis) encircled by yellow nasturtiums, edible flowers with a peppery bite that will also lure aphids away from your cucumbers and deter cucumber beetles. Dill partners well with bush cucumbers and scallions in an 18-inch or larger pot, as its flowers attract hover flies and predatory wasps, which feed on other insect pests.
A small 10-inch bowl-type planter provides an easy home for leaf lettuce and chives, which deter aphids. Or go for a classic combination of companion garden plants: tomato and basil, which repels flies, thrips, and mosquitoes. (Many gardeners will tell you the basil makes the tomatoes taste better, too.) Plant a determinate (bush) tomato and basil in an 18-inch or larger pot. Choose purple basil to add another layer of color to your container garden.