Are you ready to give your garden a boost with some spring flowers? This list of the best spring flowers for pots is full of great ideas and tips to inspire you.
We all tend to spend less times in our gardens in winter. But when the weather starts to warm up in spring we start using our outdoor spaces more, so it’s only natural to want them to look good and fill us with joy. Add to this the fact that many plants burst into life again at this time of year, and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to growing beautiful spring flowering plants.
In this post you’ll find thirty great spring plants for pots that will provide your garden with a fantastic display of flowers and foliage right through spring. I’ve also included advice on planting containers and caring for your spring flowers, and a quick guide to the tools you need for successful spring container gardening.
The benefits of growing spring flowers in pots
If your outdoor space is limited, growing spring flowers in pots is a simple and accessible way to create a floral display. Hanging baskets and pots can green up even the smallest of spaces. There are some clever stackable designs on the market too, so you can easily make the most of vertical space.
Growing plants in containers is also ideal if you’re short on time or budget, as it allows you to concentrate your efforts on a small area of the garden. Place your pots in a spot where you can see them regularly for maximum impact. Visible from the kitchen window, near your outdoor furniture, or next to the front door are all good options.
The portability of pots is another great reason to embrace container gardening. You can move things around if you fancy a change, and it’s easy to take your plants with you if you’re renting or planning a house move.
Container gardening is also a great way to introduce children to gardening and nature play. You can keep things on a small scale, giving kids their own pot to take care of and maybe even decorate. That small scale is actually perfect for beginner gardeners of any age; you can start with something that feels manageable, and move onto larger displays as you learn and feel more confident.
When can I start planting flowers for spring?
The weather can be chilly in early spring, and there’s still a chance of frost, so you might be a little unsure about the best time to start planting spring flowers.
Spring flowering bulbs should be planted the previous autumn. They will be happy underground over winter and will start to grow and flower in spring.
Is it too early to plant potted flowers?
It’s fine to plant hardy spring plants for pots at any point in spring. If you’ve chosen more tender varieties that can’t cope with frost and cold weather, you should wait until the weather has warmed up and all frost risk has passed.
As a general guide, if the plants are under cover at the garden centre it’s probably too soon to be putting them in the ground. You should of course be guided by the conditions in your own garden; for example, if you’ve got a sheltered spot that you know is always frost-free then you could get a head start on planting outdoor pots.
When should you plant spring containers?
Treat your spring container planting the same way as you would approach planting in the garden. This means being guided by the specific weather conditions where you live, and paying attention to the conditions your plants need.
Do bear in mind that spring plants grown in container planters are more exposed to cold conditions (via the surface area of the pot) than plants grown in the ground.
Where to put your spring containers
When it comes to finding the perfect spot for your spring planters, we’ve already talked about choosing somewhere you can see regularly and thinking about frost risk. The other major factor you need to think about is the concept of ‘right plant, right place’.
‘Right plant, right place’ is a popular garden design approach, and for good reason. It’s a simple principle that will help give your plants the best chance of thriving.
Every type of plant has a set of conditions that it will grow well in. These include amount of light, type of soil, temperature, space required, and tolerance of pollution and extreme weather.
These conditions are relevant to growing the plant in the ground, or in a pot. Position your spring pots somewhere that naturally provides the right conditions for the plants, and you’re well on the way to a gorgeous display.
On the flip side, if you put your spring pots somewhere that has conditions the plants don’t like, you’ll restrict how well the plants can grow.
If you’re buying a plant for your spring pots, check the care label. This usually includes information on ideal conditions. If there isn’t a label, or you’re dealing with a plant you already have, you can look it up online or use a plant identification app.
When you’ve worked out what your plant needs, you can find the right place to grow it. And if you don’t have the right place in your garden, choose a different plant. It’s that simple!
Perennial and annual plants for spring outdoor pots: what’s the difference?
Before you start buying any plants for your spring pots, take a little time to understand the difference between perennial plants and annual plants.
Annual plants grow, flower, and die back in one growing season. They don’t usually survive to flower again a second year. Annuals are often labelled as ‘bedding plants’ and are a popular choice for spring flowers in pots. They’re not the cheapest option though, as you have to replace them on a regular basis.
Perennial plants grow year after year, so they don’t need to be replaced very often. Many perennials have a dormant phase over winter when they die back, but they will then grow and flower again in spring and summer. Evergreen perennials will provide you with foliage all year round.
For a more detailed explanation, head over to my post on annual vs. perennial plants.
Annual plants and perennial plants are both ideal for growing in pots, and you can combine the two very effectively. Doing this keeps costs down and allows you to easily refresh your pots with seasonal plants when you need to perk things up. Just make sure you choose plants that are the right size for the pot; remember they will get bigger!
The best spring flowers for pots and hanging baskets
Are you raring to go with your spring planting, but wondering “what can I plant in pots in spring”? Here’s a guide to the best flowers for hanging baskets, pots and window boxes to help you produce a gorgeous spring container garden.
I’ve included spring flowering plants, spring bulbs, spring foliage plants and spring flowering shrubs – take your pick from thirty varieties of spring planter ideas.
Spring flowering plants for pots
If it’s outdoor flowering plants for spring pots that you’d like to focus on, you’ve got lots of choice. Here are some lovely spring flowers for pots and spring hanging baskets.
Pansies & Violas
Pansies and violas are a reliable option for early annual spring flowers for pots. They’re tough plants, and can cope with frosts and cold weather. I like to combine them with spring flowering bulbs to create a display that looks good right through winter and into the warmer months.
Another favourite for early spring flowers, primroses will fill your garden with colour before many other flowering spring plants in pots get going. Low-cost and low maintenance plants, they’re always a popular choice if you’re gardening with kids.
Good old petunias. Available in lots of colours, easy plants to grow and with plentiful flowers, it’s no wonder the garden centres are full of them in spring and summer. There are some gorgeous double-flowered and speckled varieties available too. Deadhead them regularly for months of colour.
Perfect for filling out a container, lobelias are low maintenance outdoor plants that keep on flowering. They’re delicate plants, with tiny purple, blue or white flowers, and are usually available as standard or trailing varieties. I love using trailing lobelia in spring hanging baskets.
The annual variety of verbena that is sold as spring bedding plants is another good choice for spring flower pots. It’s a compact plant, so works well in smaller containers. Use white varieties for a cool effect, or go big on impact with bolder shades of reds and purples.
Ornamental cabbage & kale
The leaves of ornamental cabbage and kale can be beautifully patterned, and definitely flower-like. They look great in a spring container with pink and white flowering plants.
Aquilegias are spring-flowering perennials, so they’re perfect for combining with annual flowers in spring pots. There are lots of different colours to choose from, and they will happily self-seed if you let them – you can let nature do it’s thing, or save seeds in autumn.
Tiarella are woodland plants, so they’re perfect for spring pots that are in partial shade or full shade. The foliage is pretty and the frothy flower spikes will add height to a container display in late spring and early summer.
If you’re growing spring flowers in a big pot, herbaceous peonies can really deliver on wow factor. Their big, beautiful blooms are perfect for a cottage garden look, and there are plenty of colours to choose from.
Peonies can have large flowers, so you will probably need to provide some *plant support in your container. These perennial plants will eventually outgrow their pot, so be prepared to move them on after a few years.
Nigella (also known as ‘love in a mist’) are really easy flowers to grow from seed. They flower in summer, but I’ve included them in my list of spring flowers for pots because it’s so easy to scatter a few *nigella seeds onto the compost when you’re planting. Doing this will extend the flowering season of your container for hardly any effort.
If you want to keep the container gardening as low maintenance as possible, grow spring wildflowers.
*Wildflowers are ridiculously easy plants to grow. They grow fast, they look fabulous, and they’re a simple way to achieve a more wildlife-friendly garden. You can grow them in a border, but they work just as well in a container; planting them this way is a fun project for kids to try too. My guide to sowing wildflowers shows you how to do it.
You can plant wildflowers seeds in autumn or spring. Autumn-planted seeds will flower a little earlier.
Spring bulbs: ideas for spring outdoor planters
Spring flowering bulbs are a must if you’d like to pack the garden with colour in spring without spending a fortune. Adding them to your spring containers will give you more flowers for very little extra effort or cost.
If you need some help with planting and growing bulbs, take a look at my planting bulbs post for lots of tips. My bulb lasagne post is also a useful resource, as it shows you how to layer up different types of bulbs in the same pot for months of blooms.
These varieties of bulbs will put on a show in early spring planters, and complement your spring flowers in pots really well.
One of earliest spring flowering bulbs, iris reticulata are small but perfectly formed. Their feather-soft flowers have striking markings and bold shades of blue or purple, and work beautifully with other spring bulbs in pots.
Small but impactful, crocuses can add a shot of jewel colours to a spring container. Crocus flowers are also an important source of pollen for bees that emerge from hibernation early in the year.
They look good when combined with other plants, but I also like to fill a shallow pot with just crocuses for a simple display.
You can’t have a list of spring flowers for pots without daffodils. These vibrant flowers can thrive in difficult conditions, and bring a welcome hit of sunny yellow to the garden in early spring.
There are lots of lovely daffodil varieties to choose from; tall ones work well in bigger pots, while the dwarf narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is a firm favourite for smaller containers.
It’s hard to beat hyacinths for spring fragrance. Their impressive flower spikes are heavily scented, and enjoy a sunny spot. Grow them in a pot that you walk past regularly so you can get the most out of the scent.
Another must-have for spring pots, tulips are available in an almost endless array of colours and shapes. Mix up your colours for a bold statement, or stick to paler pastels and whites for a more muted effect.
Snake’s Head Fritillary
Part of the lily family, snake’s head fritillaries are lovely, delicate spring bulbs with unusual patterned petals. They like damp soil and partial shade, so keep them out of direct sunlight.
These cute little blue flowers look a bit like hyacinths, but on a smaller scale. They combine particularly well with yellow flowers such as daffodils or tulips in containers, and are well-suited to pots because they tend to spread a little too easily if not contained.
A good option for late spring flowers, allium bulbs work well in pots. Some varieties are a little too tall for a container display, so choose a shorter variety such as ‘christophii’, ‘oreophilum’ or ‘cowanii’.
Foliage spring container planting ideas
When creating a container display, always think about including some foliage plants. They’re brilliant for adding extra colour, texture and height to your pots, and can also help to bulk things out.
All of these foliage plants work well in combination with spring flowers in pots.
Coleus plants have wonderful foliage. They’re available in quite a wide range of shades, and look great with flowering plants in a mixed pot.
This is one of my favourite foliage plants for containers. Cineraria has silver-grey leaves with a soft, tactile surface, making it a perfect choice for cool colour schemes. It’s a tough plant too, and you may find that it ends up behaving like a perennial if your pots are in a sheltered location.
Another option for silvery tones, calocephalus has more delicate stems and tends to grow in a dome shape. I think it looks a bit like coral, so it’s great for a coastal vibe.
A reliable and cheap trailing plant, ivy is great for softening the edges of a pot or creating a bigger hanging basket display. Growing it in a container also means you can keep it under control.
Like coleus, heucheras are bright and impactful foliage plants. Their colours range from bright greens through to deep purples, so you can easily find one that works well with your other plants. Heucheras are perennials, so you won’t need to replace them every year.
Ferns are a modern choice for a container or hanging basket. Their striking green fronds can provide structure and height, plus bags of tactile texture to explore. Choose a compact variety for best results, and make sure you choose a shadier spot for your container to keep ferns happy.
Like ferns, ornamental grasses are invaluable for adding height and texture to a spring pot display. Grasses can also provide a lovely sense of movement, and even a gentle, soothing noise when the wind blows.
Great ornamental grasses for pots include stipa tennuisima, hakonechloa, carex testacea and phormium.
Loved by instagram gardeners (and if you’re one of those you need my nature hashtags lists), lots of succulents are suitable for growing as outdoor plants in pots. Grow several different varieties in a pot, or stick to one type for a pared-back look.
Succulents work particularly well when you use a layer of gravel on the top of the compost; as well as looking fab this prevents soil making the leaves dirty.
Spring flowering shrubs for containers
We tend to overlook shrubs when choosing plants for containers. But there are plenty of varieties that are compact enough for pots, and can really deliver on flowers or foliage. Here are my favourite shrubs for spring containers.
As well as producing an abundance of beautiful flowers in spring, camellias have gorgeous glossy green foliage too. You need a decent size of pot for these shrubs, and make sure you plant them in *ericaceous compost.
Miniature ornamental cherry
I have one of these in a pot outside the back door, and every spring it’s absolutely covered in delicate, pale pink blossom. As an added bonus, the leaves put on a wonderful show in autumn too. A good variety is prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’, which is available as a shrub or trained into a lollipop-shaped ornamental tree.
Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata’
This lovely flowering shrub produces pale pink flowers and a really strong fragrance in early spring. It can grow as tall as 1.5 metres, so make sure you grow it in a large pot.
Clipped box plants will bring a more formal feel to a spring container. If you’d like to make the entrance to your home look more stylish, box plants in pots make fantastic spring planters for the front door.
Box is a slow-growing plant, so for instant impact you will need to buy an established plant which can be quite costly.
Should you repot plants after buying?
Absolutely. Unless you’ve bought a ready-made display of plants, you should aim to repot your plants when you get them home.
Most plants bought at the garden centre or online will be grown in small pots and should be potted on. Giving them access to more compost and a bigger pot will encourage them to grow and reach their full potential.
The best tools for spring container gardening
You don’t need much in the way of gardening tools to grow spring flowers in pots. There are however a few basics that will make the job easier and help you take care of your plants.
I think a *hand trowel is a must. Use it for planting, weeding and re-potting.
If you like working with your hands instead, you’ll need some decent *gardening gloves. These are very much a personal choice, but regardless of the type you go for, make sure it’s easy to move your hands while wearing them.
Plants grown in containers are more reliant on us for water than plants grown in the ground, so make sure you’ve got a *watering can. Choose one with a ‘rose’ spout attachment, this will help to slow down the flow of water and prevent your pots getting flooded. If you’ve chosen flowers for small pots you might like to opt for a *mini watering can instead.
Last but not least, you will need some pots and hanging baskets!
Choosing pots for spring planters
The containers you choose for your spring flowers are definitely a matter of personal preference. You could buy them, or upcycle an everyday household object to make a unique plant pot. Old wellies, chimney pots, sinks, old watering cans and colanders all work well.
Do make sure you choose a container that has drainage holes, so that your plants don’t get waterlogged. If there aren’t any holes, you could make your own with a hammer and nail, or use an inner plant pot with drainage holes.
Think carefully about the size of your pot too. Is it big enough for all the plants you want to put in it? Remember they will grow!
The best compost for spring flowers in pots
It’s important to give container-grown plants access to good compost. Our best compost for pots guide will help you get this right.
Unlike plants that are grown in the ground, they can’t spread out indefinitely into the soil around them to find the nutrients they need. This means they will inevitably use up all the nutrients in their compost, after which point they will find it harder to grow and stay healthy.
You should aim to use a good quality *peat-free compost for spring flowers in pots. A general-purpose compost is fine for most plants, but there are some varieties that need a specific type of compost so check your plant labels.
You can also go for a compost specifically designed for containers and hanging baskets. This usually has added fertiliser and sometimes also water-retaining crystals. It’s a good insurance policy if you’re likely to neglect your pots a little, or just like the idea of cutting down on the maintenance.
How do you plant spring flowers in pots?
So you’ve chosen your plants, found the perfect pot, and have your tools. Now it’s time to get planting!
Use this quick guide to planting flowers in pots to get it right first time.
- Add small stones or broken piece of terracotta pot to the base of your container. This helps with drainage.
- Fill your pot with compost, stopping when it’s nearly full.
- Remove each plant from the pot carefully, to keep the roots intact.
- Place your plants on the surface of the compost. Play around with their positions until you get the best layout; taller plants look good at the back, while trailing plants should be close to the edge so they can tumble over.
- Add more compost to fill in any gaps.
- Water your pot throughly.
Care tips for spring planters
One of the beauties of growing spring flowers in pots is that it’s really low maintenance. You do need to keep an eye on a few areas though.
Feeding spring flowers in pots
Spring flowering plants are working hard to produce foliage and flowers, so they will quickly exhaust their compost. To keep them looking good, you can use a general purpose plant food to feed them regularly.
Plant food is available in a number of different formats. The most common is *concentrated liquid, which has to be diluted before use then applied with a watering can. *Granule plant food can be added to the compost when planting, or raked into the surface at any point. *Ready-to-use liquid feed is poured straight from the bottle into the container. All work well, so go for a format that suits you best.
You can also make your own plant food, this is usually made from comfrey leaves or nettle leaves. If you’re gardening on a budget or want to practice sustainable gardening this is an ideal choice. This video shows you how to do it.
Watering spring flowers in pots
Limited compost and warmer temperatures above ground makes container-grown plants dry out more quickly than those grown in the ground. Add in the often warm temperatures of spring, and it’s important to make sure your spring flowers in pots are kept moist.
Check your containers every couple of days. If the surface of the compost feels dry, it’s time to water your plants.
How important is drainage for spring flowers in pots?
Yes, it’s important to water regularly. But it’s also important to avoid soggy containers.
Most plants really don’t like sitting in a puddle. Too much water can rot the roots and quickly kill the plant. If the weather is cooler (as it often is in spring) water won’t evaporate as quickly either.
To keep the right balance, concentrate on providing your spring container plants with good drainage.
Doing this starts with a pot that has holes in the bottom, which we’ve already talked about. Those stones or broken bits of pot at the bottom of the compost will help too.
Another way to improve drainage is to loosen up the compost with some grit or *perlite.
You can also use *pot feet or bricks to raise your containers off the ground. This simple action will help excess water drain away.
How to make sure your spring flowers in pots keep flowering
We all want maximum blooms from our plants, don’t we? Deadheading regularly will help you achieve just that.
Deadheading is quick and easy – the sort of garden job you can do in a couple of minutes. All you do is remove any flowers that look droopy or dead, plus any seed heads that have started to form. Doing this stops the plant setting seed, and encourages it to produce more flowers instead.
And there you have it – all you need to know about growing and caring for spring flowers in pots. I hope you’re feeling inspired to get out there and plant some amazing spring containers and hanging baskets 🙂
More container gardening tips and resources
If container gardens are your thing, here are some more resources.
My low maintenance plants for outdoor pots and evergreen pot plants posts have even more ideas for the best plants for pots which are low-effort but high-impact. I’ve also got a handy list of the best trailing plants for hanging baskets and pots, plus a guide to growing wow factor hanging flower baskets.
Grow your own is perfectly suited to containers too. My post on easy vegetables to grow in pots lists the best veggies for containers and includes planting and growing tips.
If you like growing seeds in pots, I’ve also got a whole post on easy flowers to grow from seed which is full of ideas.
And if you’re looking for winter container garden tips, head over to my posts on winter plants for pots and plants for winter hanging baskets. I’ve also got a list of great summer plants for pots, and a selection of fall flowers for pots to fill your autumn garden with colour.
Even more floral inspiration
How about some flower-themed quotes to carry on the floral celebration?
I’ve got lovely lists of flower quotes, sunflower quotes, nature quotes, spring quotes and garden quotes to inspire you, plus family-friendly spring jokes, flower jokes , plant puns and garden jokes to get you giggling.
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