How to Arrange the Perfect Planter

Michelle Prouty of Fairhope’s Corner Copia Gardens takes the mystery out of creating the perfect planter for every outdoor setting.

Michelle Prouty // Cotton dress by Saloni, $395; Hoop earrings by Mary K Kendig, $58 from The Holiday // Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Master gardener and Baldwin County resident, Michelle Prouty, is one of those lucky souls indulging her life’s passions — growing and tending to the healthiest plants she can find and educating fellow gardeners through dynamic presentations and informative classes. Also high on her list of priorities is managing her own nursery and garden center, Corner Copia Gardens, in Fairhope.

“I come from a gardening family,” Michelle says, remembering her grandmother’s picturesque Southern garden filled with flowers and vegetables. “My parents also had gardens, so I come by it naturally. But I ended up studying marketing and statistics at Auburn, not horticulture. It just didn’t occur to me at the time to make a living from horticulture.”

Making a living from horticulture is now her life’s work. Michelle began designing beautiful custom planters and traffic-stopping gardens a few years back, which led her to start her own small, but quick-growing nursery, Corner Copia, then located in Silverhill. The cottage nursery and scattered greenhouses began bursting at the seams with both plants and people. More space was needed, and Michelle took over the former Wilsey’s Nursery on Highway 181 in Fairhope. “We have so much more space here on this beautiful property, “ she says.

More plants, more space for educational facilities and classes, walking trails, and even promises of a wedding and party venue are on the horizon.

- Sponsors -

Even though Michelle is deeply involved in all aspects of running her blooming nursery business, at the end of the day, it is the love of gardening and helping people that sustains her dedication.

 “I am truly living my dream. I work seven days a week, but I love it.”

Michelle Prouty

Succulent Bowl

Succulent planter
“The trailing Senecio succulent adds striking color and texture wherever you put it.” – Michelle Prouty

Michelle has combined a striking mother-in-law tongue, or snake plant, with lemon ball Sedum and angel wing Senecio to produce a dramatic, good-looking succulent trio. “The shades of green in this bowl,” she says, “paired with the lemon yellow of the Sedum and brilliant white toothy leaves of the Senecio produce a striking, easy care arrangement.”

About Succulents
These days, succulents are quite popular, with good reason. There is a wide variety of succulents based on leaf shapes and heights and whether the succulent flowers or not. They are all easy to care for and look terrific grouped in a planter or scattered around on a sunny patio. Succulents need about six or so hours of sunlight each day, and it doesn’t take much time to keep them watered. Just make sure the container has good drainage as succulents do not like wet feet. 

Mother-In-Law Tongue
The dependable snake plant, with its very interesting sword-like leaves, is the center of attention here. It is a succulent of stamina that can survive indoors in low light conditions, drought and with some neglect. The beneficial leaves will help clear the air by filtering toxins.

Lemon-Ball Sedum
Sansevieria trifasciata is a chartreuse green succulent that cascades over the bowl in a nice trail. Like most succulents, Sedum likes well-drained soil and thrives in heat and sun. 

Angel Wing Senecio
The attention-grabbing angel with its toothy, silvery white and velvety leaves creates a bold backdrop to the green and yellow of this setting. Senecio is prized for its fast growth rate, and it also likes a sunny location and does well in succulent containers and gardens. 

Planter Glazed low bowl 22” x 11” • $98

Classically Romantic

Two topiaries
“I like these rather formal planters at entryways or porches. Topiary Eugenia is relatively slow-growing, so it needs trimming only occasionally to keep its ball shape.”

Topiaries add a formal touch to the front door. This planter does best in indirect or filtered sunlight.

Topiary Eugenia
This evergreen shrub can be sheared into almost any shape, such as cones, spirals or balls. If used indoors, it needs plenty of light, and if used outdoors, it should be brought inside when frost threatens. The soil should not be allowed to dry out completely, as the leaves will wilt dramatically.      

Pink Begonias
The soft pink flowers add a pop of color in this rather formal planter. “Begonias are so versatile, they are very well suited for growing in planters,” Michelle says. “They grow and spread easily in containers and will last for months.”

White Hypoestes
Also known as a polka-dot plant, this beauty adds a touch of polka-dotty fun when placed in just the right spot. Michelle says, “The brightly spotted leaves of this lovely little plant stand out well against the greens and muted pink begonias.”

Variegated Ivy
The variegated ivy blends in well in this topiary arrangement, but remember that its leaves will burn if placed in direct sunlight. “The ivy is planted at the base of the topiary so that it can sprawl over the edges of the pot,” Michelle says. 

Lavastone Urn, 14.5” x 13.5” • $80

Tropical Drama

Tropical planter
“This large, dramatic planter will go all summer with proper care. It likes and needs plenty of water. As the months go by, if a plant does die out in the heat, just replace it with another with the same soil and light needs.”

This planter is all about texture — spiky and fuzzy leaves complement one another.

Red Angel-Wing Begonia
The exotic-looking begonia likes humidity, sunny places, and lots of water and will grow and spread all summer long. It is a fast grower and can be pruned to the desired foliage shape. The extraordinary name originates from its angel wing-shaped leaves. 

White Hip-Hop Euphorbia 
This ornamental euphorbia produces multiple small white flowers on a dense mass of green foliage. It is very heat and drought tolerant, and its mounding habits make it an ideal addition to hanging baskets. Michelle likes to use it as a substitute for baby’s breath in arrangements.

Lavender Purple Petunias
The large lush blooms add a dramatic color pop in this planter.      

Elephant’s Ear
The impressive center in this showy planter is the well-known Alocasia. It is a tender perennial with enormous ruffled green leaves borne on strong purple stems. The leaves are arrow-shaped at their base and stand upright. Michelle chose it because it can be a pure tropical expression to lend a lush and breezy feel to the arrangement. 

White Angelonia
This mounding plant and compact grower will remain about a foot tall and is covered with white blooms that can grow large and resemble small snapdragons. This pretty little plant loves the heat and will flower most of the summer.

Creeping Jenny
This elegant, sweeping plant will hang over the side of the pot, making it an ideal spiller plant that won’t smother the surrounding plants. Creeping Jenny’s yellow-green foliage contrasts nicely with the dark greens and brightly colored flowers.

Steel Cube planter 26.75” x 26.75” • $600

Planter Pointers

There is an almost unlimited selection of container choices. baskets or pots made in a myriad of materials like Terra cotta, wood and metal — even tree trunks— make attractive and eye-catching options. 

• Use a good quality soil that will provide adequate drainage and necessary plant nutrients, like a good potting soil. 

• Make sure your planter has drainage holes on the bottom so that excess moisture won’t build up in the soil. 

• Watering long and deep will keep most container-grown plantings perfectly happy. 

• Group sun-lovers together, and give shade-loving plants their own container.

Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox

Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more!