Container gardening is all the rage these days because houses are getting bigger and lot sizes are shrinking. Containers are also easy to care for and that works with today’s busy lifestyles.  

But choosing plants for containers that look good together and make good pot mates can be overwhelming. So Proven Winners has developed a huge selection of container combos to   work with any color scheme, and the good news is there are dozens and dozens of recipes online.  To do a container recipe search,  go to

Another good source for container combinations is

Container gardens don’t have to be limited to annuals – trees, small shrubs and perennials can all be included in the mix.

The only hitch to using these plants is they must not be left out in pots and exposed to the elements in winter, so your options are to move them to a protected area after they have gone dormant or remove them from the container. If they are zone hardy to where you live, you can overwinter them in the ground in a holding area.

Many folks choose to do this in a bed close to west side of the house foundation. Most of my friends haul them into an unheated attached garage or tool shed.  A covered porch that is protected from winter sun, wind and rain will also work.

Here are a couple of Proven Winner Color Choice shrub selections that have stolen my heart. 

‘Jazz Hand’s Dwarf Pink,' called Mini, with its rich purple leaves and bright pink flowers that emerge mid spring, is a stunner in a container. Rising from 12 to 16 inches in height, it’s a thriller whether planted by itself or mixed with other plants in a large container combo. It’s big brother, Variegated ‘Jazz Hands’ is a knockout with deep purple mature foliage.  But the new growth splashed with white and bright pink is a showstopper in my opinion. Left to its own devices. In a container it can rise to 48 inches or more.  

These shrubs do best in full to part sun in consistently moist soil. Hardy only to Zone 7, you can grow them as an annual or overwinter them in an unheated garage where they will not freeze. The best news is they are touted as deer resistant.

When growing shrubs in containers, remember bigger is better when it comes to pots. For more tips, seach the internet for “can I grow shrubs in containers.”

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at




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