A Recipe For Success: Mixed Sun & Shade Planter

Creating planters is one of my favourite ways to play with colour and be express my creativity. Using plants you can challenge the typical colour pairings in unlikely ways, go with tried and true colour schemes or go monochromatic - it really is an opportunity to express yourself and personality.

In this weeks A Recipe For Success planter we are focusing on creating a planter which thrives in that liminal space of part sun and part shade. These spaces can be difficult to find the perfect plants for as many annuals thrive in the sun. This planter uses a mixture of annuals and perennials to create longevity and textural interest in addition to colour. The colour palate we are using is a tried and true pairing: lime greens and purples. This high contrast is eye-catching from a distance and is sophisticated and modern feeling.

Plant highlights

Green Upright Grass
Northern Sea Oats

I just wanted to take a moment to showcase several plants that we are using in this planter which have the texture and colour we were looking for. The first is the Chasmanthium latifolium 'Northern Sea Oats' which has a fantastically modern bamboo-like growing habit. This is due to the interesting way their lime green leaves are spaced along their stocks. At the end of the season it will produce purple-pink seed heads which will add to the colour profile. This grass is perennial USDA zones 5 to 8 and will grow to 3-5 feet, so be aware that eventually this gorgeous grass will want to be planted in a larger pot or in your garden. It's bamboo like growth makes it an excellent choice for privacy screening in pots or in the garden without being as invasive or leggy as bamboo can be.

Another plant that is worth discussing is the unique Hardy Holly Fern. This woodland fern has lovely leathery leaves which are very different looking. Like the Northern Sea Oats, this fern is a perennial zones 6-9 and will reach the maximum size of 2 feet tall. I suggest that you over winter it in a pot and use it as the 'thriller' in a shade planter next year!

Shopping List:

  • 2 - 4" Northern Sea Oats

  • 1 - 4" Upright Fuchsia - we used Delta Sarah

  • 1 - 4" Oxalis

  • 1 - 4" Purple Ipomoea Sweet Potato Vine

  • 1 - 4" Hardy Holly Fern

  • 1 - 16" Planter

  • 1 Bag of MySoil Container Mix

  • 1 Bag of Moss * Optional


This planter is based on balance but not symmetry because we are not duplicating plants throughout. It is a planter that is designed to be seen 360 degrees, so there is visual interest all the way around the planter. It is also designed in a way that allows the lime green and purple foliage to contrast from one another. For easy visualization I created a simple diagram for planting.

  1. Fill your planter completely with MySoil Container mix.

  2. Start by creating a triangle planting of the Fuchsia and Northern Sea Oats in the centre of the planter. The purple, pink and white flowers really pop against the tall lime green grasses. I placed the side of the Fuchsia with the most flowers facing away from the grasses.

  3. Next plant the Hrady Holly Fern centred between the two grasses. This creates another visual triangle and the lime green grasses contrast against the dark green leathery fern leaves.

  4. Now flank the Fuchsia with the Oxalis and Ipomoea. When choosing the Ipomoea I was sure to choose a plant that had a balanced growth pattern. This is because I wanted it to drape towards both the Fuchsia and the fern. When choosing the Oxalis I made sure I chose one with blooms and buds so its white flowers would contrast against its striking purple foliage.

  5. This step is optional, however I do like the way moss finishes off a planter and provides additional moisture retention properties for the soil. Pull off chunks of moss from the bag and place it on areas of exposed soil - repeat throughout the planter.

There is the finished product! A high contrasting planter which is excellent in part sun and shade. The Northern Sea Oats provides excellent height while the Fuchsia adds a playful feel to the planter.

Tip: To keep your Fuchsia blooming throughout the summer pinch back about 1/4 the spent flowering branches. This will keep it from getting leggy and will encourage it to continue to bloom. Don't forget to use a flowering fertilizer throughout the summer as well.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and we will see you in the store! Cheers!

Heather Youl - Digital Media Content Creator & Social Media Marketing Manager