Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is more. While three pots can make a corner of a deck look fabulous, a dozen can be stunning too. It depends on your space and budget. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when grouping pots (although the first rule of thumb is that there are no rules except to do what pleases you).
Odd Numbers Look Right
When grouping together multiple pots, use an odd number of pots: three pots just looks better than a pair. An odd number enables you to create a central focal point for eyes to rest upon and then move from pot to pot. Designing with odd numbers just seems to look better.
However, when flanking a doorway or entrance to your garden, a pair of identical pots on either side is quite suitable to create a visually appealing and balanced look.
Use of Color
Keeping one element the same —either color, size or shape—creates a harmonious design. Using all terracotta pots of different sizes and shapes is a sure-fire way to achieve a unified design.
While the pots in the following photo are different in color, they are similar in style and the colors compliment each other. Also, the wrought iron plant stands helps unify the arrangement.
Mix Pot Sizes and Shapes
Instead of a creating a hodgepodge of the same sized pots, use a few different pot heights diameters, and shapes to create visual interest. For example, in a five-pot grouping, you might choose two urn-shaped pots of the same height (16 to 18 inches tall), two more of a different height and shape (12 inches tall), and one more smaller pot that complements the other four. To create a grouping that looks well thought-out, pot colors and materials should blend well with each other to provide a homogeneous look.
Even if all of your pots are the same size and shape, which might look too one-note, you can elevate a few pots on plant stands or set them on top of inverted pots to create various heights.
Creative Pot Designs at Longwood Gardens
If you ever get the chance to visit, the pots and plant combinations at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, are some of the most extraordinary we've ever seen. Notice how they used different kinds of pots and used plants that are a salmon color as well as a deep wine color. The textures in all pots are quite different, but the color echoing creates a coherent design.
Identical Pots and Plant Arrangements
Some of the most successful and formal groupings of pots are achieved by designing identical planters with the same type of pot planted with the same kind of plants. The visual impact can be stunning, and depending on the pots and the plants growing in them, the effect you achieve can be modern or more traditional. The effect of repeating identical planters up staircases, on top of walls, or to line a pathway or driveway can look amazing.