When choosing plants for nursery pots, keep the following in mind: Is there a lot of development at the bottom? Is the condition of the leaves good, with no spots or pests? Will the plant’s size, as specified on the tag, meet your needs? Is the plant’s growing requirements compatible with the container’s location—are you putting it in full sun, shade, or part sun and shade?

Consider the concepts of thrill, fill, and spill. Place one plant in the center to “thrill” the eye and draw attention, one or two plants to “spill” over the sides to soften the appearance, and one or two plants to “fill” the planter with an accenting color. Gardeners love the spike dracaena as a “thrill” plant. My favorite is red fountain grass, but you could also try snapdragons, salvia, coleus, or dahlias. Filling plants include African daisies (Osteospermum sp.), million bells (Calibrachoa sp.), zinnias, and geraniums. Plants that “spill” include wave petunias, sweet potato vine, alyssum, and lobelia.

You can make four-season nursery pots by completely changing out some pots or simply changing out a few plants each season. In the spring, plant bulbs, pansies, dianthus, primulas, lobelias, and snapdragons. Try tropical plants like cannas or miniature sunflowers in the summer. Autumn colors for my summer containers include oranges, deep golds, and deep reds. Don’t be afraid to include some perennials in your planters. Planters can be grouped by varying their heights, such as by standing some on bricks.

Use large, eye-catching containers in the garden. In a flower or shrub border, use them as specimens or as sculptural accents.

Cover the hole in the bottom of the planter with a rock or a piece of landscape fabric and fill it with media to keep the soil from clogging it. Fill the planter halfway to three-quarters of the way. Insert your transplants into the mixture, then add potting media to one inch below the rim and lightly press. Plant seeds and transplants according to the depth and spacing instructions on the seed packet or tag. Place your nursery pots in a location where they will receive enough sunlight.

The soil in containers dries out quickly, so check at least once a day and water as needed. Allow the medium to dry but not completely. Water should be applied until it runs out of the bottom hole.

Fertilize every couple of weeks with the fish emulsion at the recommended dilution. You won’t have to do this for another eight to ten weeks if you bought a soil mix with added fertilizer.