What can I add to make this Pool Planter "Pop"?

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

I keep adding to it and it just looks kind of "blah". So far I have liriope, some kind of small philodendrum, Croton and just added a bunch of Artillery fern (Love that Plant!). It's under the pool screen so it's a little cooler than out in the yard, but it's still going to get pretty hot here! I need to plant something that keeps it's shape and doesn't drop a lot of leaves/petals into the pool. Something that doesn't grow to high, so not to obstruct the view. Probably a plant that's light in color or a complimentary colorful contrast. (talk about picky! hehe). Annuals would be fine as I don't mind replacing them...but perennials would be better!

Any suggestions?


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Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Here's a closer photo...

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Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

I cannot recommend plants for you. In general I like the plants that you have there. The thing that I don't like is the repetition and spacing. It looks like you picked one plant, purchased 6 of them and then spaced each plant 4' apart. Then you did the same thing with another plant and another plant. Nothing stands out because they are all mixed together. I think you would be better of planting a drift of one plant that flows into a drift of another plant. I might also be tempted to add one of those nice looking pots into the planting bed.

Good luck! It looks like a fabulous pool with a great view.

- Brent

Phoenix, AZ

It is quite good looking. Clean and sharp. Its about the pool not the planter. And its about the view. Don't think you want to obstruct that nice view.
But, my take is you need a "theme". Plant, region, color, texture or even style. Modern, Cottage, Contemp, wild. That would be something that comes from within you.

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thank-you Brent and Aguane...

Brent, I think you are absolutely right about the spacing! You've got my number...as that's exactly what was done - 6 of this, 6 of that - add in 20 artillery fern - evenly spaced!

Aguane - It does look really clean and sharp and I do like that. Like you said, I need to get personal about it and figure out a theme or something I really like.

From both your suggestions, I'm thinking a few nice low planted pots placed randomly in there. I hate to disrupt what's there now as it's growing so well.

Thank-you so much!

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Kat: I think what's missing is me swimming laps (LOL)
But seriously....I think your choice of colors and plants is a marvelous backdrop. What I see missing is the drama. I think you need to be braver about textures and colors and spacing. This is a fantastic "stage", and I think it needs to be a totally overblown! Your layout is very formal---you might think about researching tropical plants. You could still use shorter plants so you don't obstruct that gorgeous view. I saw one indoor pool that had the perimeter packed with ferns, and it was quite spectacular. Most of the leaves you have are fairly fine-textured, so you might consider putting something tall and big-leafed in the corner---maybe a banana? And what about some New Guinea impatiens for bloom? They're fairly tidy, if you put a few clumps in an odd arrangement with some ferns, or gingers, or dwarf cannas...maybe that might perk things up!

Novato, CA

The planting is too metered for my eye and lacks tropical drama.
Big bold foliage juxtaposed against some short pygmy date palms and some cascading foliage to soften the edge of the pool would warm up and loosen up this composition.

I'd be looking at plants such as Alocasias, Pygmy date Palms, Bromeliads , Cycads, Ginger, Bird of Paradise and orchids.

For inspiration look at some of the best landscaped resorts with pools - check out the Grand Hyatt on Kauai , The Four Seasons in Singapore, The Amandari Hotel in Bali or any of the Balinese resort gardens that Made Wijaya designed. ( He has a great website )

Clyde/Fines Creek, NC(Zone 5b)

Brent's suggestion is excellent. You will get more color from the Crotons if they are grouped together and more drama from your textures when they are grouped in drifts not regimented spacing.

What you have in there now if it is happy is gonna get a lot bigger! The dwarf Philodendron bipinnatifidum you have, I forget the cultivar name, can get quite big and will drape over the edge. The Artillery Fern will also drape over the edge as it grows and then it is going to drop a lot of tiny crap into the pool. I would ditch the Artillery fern if you don't want stuff falling in the pool.

I would not plant a major sharp spined Pygmy Date Palm in a narrow bed by a pool next to a screen enclosure.

Bold foliage is a good idea. Think Big Leaves. Bromeliads, Alocasia aka Elephant Ear, Zamia furfuracea. Depending on the shade % of your cover you could do Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema which have many leaf variegations to choose from. Dracaena is also another family to look at for striped foliage with big leaves. Dracaena reflexa is very white in color. The dracaena do get taller and would be better as a single accent plant so as not to block the view.


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i, for one, like the structured look. i think the colors of the leaves and the different textures look very striking. i also think that your idea of placing some pots at random (not small pots) would add interest and drama. as you say, the plants you've put in already are growing well and it would be a shame to disturb them at this point. this coming from someone who constantly moves plants! sometimes the right pots, both in shape and color, are all you really need to add. you could do some with low plants and some with higher, wispy or tropical leafed plans. i love your pool and i think you've done a great job so far.

Mansfield, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow! I had never heard of Made Wijaya until you mentioned him above, Michelle. I Googled and was transported to Bali, India, and other exotic places. What a wonderful landscape designer. Thank you so much for the past hour of enjoyment.

Novato, CA

Glad that you enjoyed Made Wijaya projects and website(s)
He has a new book out on his work and is featured in quite a few tropical landscape and tropical horticulture books.

A group of us who traveled to Bali last October were treated to a fabulous ginger martini slide show and tour of his garden at his home office in Sanur Bali.
We also toured a few of his resort installations around the island.

He is quite a colorful character !

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Thornton, IL

I would add a few split-leafed philodendron and the new dwarf cannas with the white flowers, in the shadier spots. It really is a lovely pool, the tropical paradise theme seems like a natural fit.

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thank-you all so much for such wonderful ideas and constructive critique! I'm going to work on it this week. Will keep you posted!

Thanks again...this is such a great site and you are all so helpful!

Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

Maybe you could get some inspiration from this page project: http://www.ovsla.com/project_temp/jones.htm

As I think about it...maybe you don't want that planter to "pop". It would be hard to complete with the beautiful tile and the view. Maybe your goal should be more to create a transition to the outside view.

- Brent

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

a nice urn right in the corner might be nice with a trailing plant. the outside palm is in back of that spot anyway, so it really wouldn't obsure much view. it would give you some vertical interest without too much plant material.

Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

My first thought was bromeliads and orchids, adding also as suggested, a few larger leafed things for drama and texture, just enough color to add a tropical spa like feel. The indoor glass room reminds me of a conservatory.

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Lake Placid, FL(Zone 9b)

Caladiums would look awesome!!
One of the red or pink varieties would look nice!!

This message was edited Apr 3, 2007 7:55 PM

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks for all your ideas...Things have grown a lot and I've added in a few containers with some Bottle Palms. Still have a couple holes that I'd like to fill, with possibly some ferns...

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Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Another view...

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Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Looking the other way...

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Greentown, IN(Zone 5b)

I think what you have done is amazing. You took everyones suggestions and made them your own. I also think that the palms inside play off the outside ones and almost feel like it is an extension of outside or you brought it inside. Now......to live in a place like that!!!!

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks Dove! It really has turned out to be my own little paradise!

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Pittsburgh, PA(Zone 5b)

Gorgeous!!!!!!!!! looks like a fancy resort pool!

Concord, CA(Zone 9a)

Wow, I want to be there. You have one beautiful place.

Orange, CA

There is a small phormium called Jack Spratt, blackish green, spikey up to 2ft tall, with slender curly upright leaves, very cute, great color. If you want to pop the colors a little more, I would use something bright white, like a new guinea impatiens. That would also give you some punch at night as white shows up really well at night. Good work, I think it looks great the way it is!

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

It's breath-taking Kat.

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

Now that looks fantastic! The mix of low colors, with a pop of height here and there completely changed the look without blocking your fantastic view! I wouldnt do much more to it....(well except admire it while you float!)

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 7b)

one thing I didn't see discussed (altho I confess I read thru everything pretty fast!) is landscape lighting, including floating pool lites possibly-- I personally don't think ANY design is complete w/out a LOT of lighting ---not bright- - accents like uplghters on your palms for starters (be careful of placing to close to leaves , so you don't burn your plants) there are a lot of choices to inspire anyone-- create some enchantment! Good luck! Scordra

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thank-you all for such wonderful comments...I think I'm done (for now...hehe!)

Scordra...Accent lighting is one thing that I really think makes a huge difference. In fact, I just had my guy back yesterday because I now need to add some more to that pool planter, because of adding in the Palms as well as on newly installed arbors. It's one of the best investments I have made with this property. I fooled around with solar lights and systems from Home Depot and finally got fed-up and had a professional install it...and it's been fantastic. Check out my lighting photo's on my Phanfare site...



McLean, VA(Zone 6b)


Do you rent rooms? That looks like a great place to vacation at - inside and outside.

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Pennefeather - I'm not renting out yet...but if I keep this addiction up for extra landscape lighting, continuous container gardening and other enhancements, I might have to! hahaha. I could even give comp's for people who are good at gardening and watering pots! hehe

I had my lighting guy come back today and add some lights on my pool planter. I'm really pleased. Here's a pic of my pool with the changing light colors. Love it! It's pretty cool.

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McLean, VA(Zone 6b)

It is just beautiful.

Greentown, IN(Zone 5b)

Wow...that is so beautiful. I think you have an artists eye for landscape and decorating and it must be like a dream to live that way!!!

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks guys...I think I'm finally getting there!

Fern Park, FL(Zone 9b)

I just found this thread and have enjoyed watching the transformation. You did a really great job! I was just wondering the whole time how you planted all that without falling in!

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Very carefully Passiflora...it's quite a balancing act! hehe

Port Charlotte, FL(Zone 10a)

Thank-you all for your suggestions and ideas...Things are still growing like crazy and here's what I've added for the Holiday season! I wish the very best to you all...


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Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

I'd say you achieved the 'pop' you were after. Looks great with the Christmas additions and the maturing growth.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I with Imapigeon. I need to be swimming laps to give it that "realism" and "pop" you're after!

Merritt Island, FL(Zone 9b)

Kat -- It is GORGEOUS. May I ask, how do you handle the watering? We need to re-do our pool plantings, but I have no irrigation out there, not even a handy hose bib.

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