Squak Talk Blog

How To Create Dynamic Houseplant Containers

Ready to take your love of houseplants to the next level? Create dynamic containers indoors with these tips from our designers Susan and Alycia!

Notice the light in the spot where you would like your container to live. The “White Paper Test” is a good tool to understand the light that your plants will get during their day. Place a blank, white sheet of paper horizontally at the level where your plant will be. Hover your hand about 12” above the paper and observe the shadow. If you see a sharp, crisp shadow, the light is bright; fuzzy but reasonably clear lines indicate indirect, bright light; a faint shadow with no visible edge is a sign of low light.

Once you understand the light requirements, pick your focal plant. This will help to narrow which plants to select for the rest of the container – the plants you choose to support your focal point will need to have the same water and planting medium requirements. Doing some research into where your focal plant lives naturally will offer some clues as to what care it needs, and what plants would partner well with it.

Next, select your container. It should be just large enough to accommodate all of your chosen plants without too much living space. Your plants will be happiest if they are snugly planted. The type of container matters, too: porous materials such as terra cotta are a great fit for plants that like to be on the dry side. Ceramics hold onto the water near the plant roots for longer, making them a good choice for plants that need extra moisture. Nearly all plants want drainage, so cache pots and baskets are best when used as a “dress” for a plastic pot.

Lastly, mix your planting medium. A well-draining potting mix is a great place to start, and will provide most plants with a happy home. Never use garden soil or compost. – both will hold too much water to keep your houseplant thriving. Succulents and cactus will appreciate added perlite for drainage. Epiphytes plants such as orchids and other tropical plants need added bark mix.

The day before you assemble your container, make sure the plants are watered well and have time to drain.
Here are a few container recipes that we showcased at the 2024 Northwest Flower and Garden Festival:

Bright Light Plants

Highlights Plants

Sansevieria ‘Futura Superba’
Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’
Hoya wayetii ‘Tricolor’
Tillandsia cyanea (Pink Quill)
Peperomia ‘Hope’

Planting medium: Well-draining potting mix
Container: Porous or plastic


Indirect Light Plants

Elegant Silver Bowl Plants

Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’
Adiantum (maidenhair fern)
Ludisia (jewel orchid)
Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead vine)

Planting medium: Potting mix, rice hulls, bark mix
Container: Non-draining bowl


Moss Pole Climber Plants

Epipremnum ‘Albo-variagata

Potting Medium: Well-draining potting mix
Container: Plastic or ceramic


Classic Birkin Plants

Philodendron ‘Birkin’
Asparagus fern
Pilea depressa ‘Chocolate’
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’ (spider plant)

Planting medium: Well-draining potting mix with added perlite
Container: Plastic or ceramic


Pretty Parlor Plants

Chamaedorea elegans (Parlor palm)
Geogenanthus Cillatus
Tradescantia tricolor ‘Pink Princess’
Asplenium ‘Victoria’ (bird’s nest fern)

Planting medium: Well-draining potting mix
Container: Plastic or ceramic

Low Light

‘A Pop of Chartreuse’ Plants

Zamioculcus zamiifolia ‘Super Nova’
Philodendron ‘Aureum’
Parthenoissus (sugarvine)
Pilea depressa ‘Chocolate’
Asparagus fern
Maranta ‘Lemon Lime’

Planting medium: Well-draining potting mix
Container: Plastic or ceramic


Summertime Outdoor Options for Shade

Sansevieria ‘Whale Fin’
Tradescantia tricolor ‘Pink Princess’
Asparagus fern
Maidenhair fern
Hypoestes (polka dot plant)












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