I love containers gardens. I don't think I have ever seen a container planted that I didn't like. I like to think of containers as little yards that are self contained. As long as you follow a few simple rules you can have beautiful, successful containers year after year!
1 Make sure you pick plants that need the same amount of water. An example is that you wouldn't want to put a new Guinea impatience with a portulaca. Portulaca's love to be dry and New Guinea have been affectionately called "little drunkards". I think you get the picture.
2. Make sure that your plants have the same sun requirements. If you are planting a sun container don't add in an impatience plant.
3. VERY IMPORTANT is that there is a drainage hole and that there is stone on the bottom. Good potting soil is key to healthy plants. If you want to save money fill part of the bottom of a pot with stone, a pot or packing peanuts.
4. Try to put the tallest plants in the center of the pots. Different heights are fine, just don't choke out another plant. Different colors and textures make the pot more interesting.
5. You don't have to having hanging ivy or flowers in every pot. You can make some plants hang a little more by planting them on a slant so they already are spilling out a bit.
6. Herbs are great for planters, just don't over crowd. Remember read the tags.
7. Keep your pots well watered and they do need more fertilizer than plants that are in the ground.
8. Last but not least purchase quality plants so you have a good head start.
A suggestion about planters. Don't put a lot of different flowers in a busy pattern planter. If you have a Mosaic planter don't put a lot of different color flowers. Let the planter be the focal point with the flowers as an accent.
Do not clump together a lot of different planters. Clumping planters looks great but it looks too busy when you have a lot of different flowers together. Consider just doing one or two types in different pots.