Missing your garden this winter? Try container gardening indoors by tucking several houseplants into the same pot, just like you would do outdoors. If you adapt the same design principles you use outdoors, you can create houseplant combos that look like they were done by a professional. So get creative, beautify your home – or someone else's if you are giving a gift – and enjoy the benefits of indoor plants all year long.
Choosing a Container
Size: Select pot size based on where you will display your container garden. For an end table, choose a smaller container with a diameter no bigger than 8 inches. A container serving as the centerpiece on a dining table or bar may have a diameter up to 10-12 inches. For tabletop gardens, look for shallow containers, such as bulb pans or colored bowls. For floor container gardens, purchase larger pots (up to 14 inches across). Choose containers for your indoor plants that are in scale with interior spaces and furnishings.
Material: Indoors, plant directly into plastic pots. Unglazed terra-cotta containers lose water through their porous sides. In the dry air of a winter home, that extra water loss can create desert conditions for indoor plants. If you plant into nondescript plastic containers, you can slip them into pretty cachepots made of any material.
Drainage: Containers must permit water to drain away. Use a waterproof saucer to catch drainage from watering your houseplants. Even one drop of water on a wood surface can lead to spots or mildew.
Dressing: If soil is visible, cover it with something like moss, sea glass or polished river rock. Soil coverings also can help deter digging pets, preventing damage to your houseplants and indoor gardens.
Mobility: For large floor containers, placing the pot on a plant dolly will make housecleaning easier. On tabletops, protect surfaces from containers by placing saucers or felt bumpers beneath pots.
Care: Choose plants that demand the same light intensity and similar soil moisture. Mixing a cactus with a tropical foliage plant is a recipe for disaster.
Color: Design your container garden to complement a color scheme, or simply select plants you like. Consider variegated or patterned plants to add visual interest to your container garden.
Texture: Mix houseplants with different leaf textures. For instance, a feathery fern looks striking paired with a broad-leaf prayer plant.
Habit: Choose plants with different growth habits to create levels of interest. Follow the same categories as you would when designing an outdoor container garden: thriller (tallest plant), filler (mid-range height) and spiller (plants that spill out of the pot). Click here to learn more about these container gardening design terms.
Indoor Container Garden Combos To Try
For inspiration, you may want to plant one of our custom designs for indoor container gardens. Water these plantings when soil is dry to the touch. Remove dead leaves as they appear. Learn more about caring for houseplants.
Eventually, the plant combination will outgrow the container. At that point you can repot plants in individual containers. If space permits, group the containers to create the look of a container garden. Otherwise, place pots throughout your home or share with friends.
Low-Light Tabletop Garden
This container garden dances with foliage color, patterns and textures.
Thriller: Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Filler: Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-vernis)
Spiller: Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Care tip: Snip spent Peace Lily blooms when they turn green. All of these plants prefer high humidity; planting them together helps raise humidity. Learn techniques to raise indoor humidity. Learn more about Mosaic Plant.
Bright Indirect Light Tabletop Garden
Exotic foliage plants fill this container with lively color.
Thriller: Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii')
Fillers: Aluminum Plant , Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia)
Spiller: Variegated Ivy (Hedera helix 'Ingelise,' or any variegated indoor Ivy)
Care tip: Pinch out growing tips on Aluminum Plant and both types of Ivy to keep plants bushy.
Bright Indirect Light Floor Garden
Fill a bright location on the floor with a living tapestry of leaf texture and color.
Thriller: Fiddleleaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
Filler: Sapphire Suzanne Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum'Sapphire Suzanne')
Spillers: Variegated Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum'Variegatum'), creeping fig (Ficus pumila)
Care tip: Snip Spider Plant stems that bear babies if you don't want to deal with dropped blooms and dangling plantlets.