Creating beautiful container plantings is easy if you understand the concept of using thrillers, fillers, and spillers.
I’m not sure my container plantings are always gorgeous, but they usually turn out pretty nice because years ago I learned to use at least one “thriller”, “filler”, and “spiller” when planting the container.
And if you’ve got room, throw in a “chiller” to make it exciting. I read about the concept long ago, but every year as I’m picking out plants for containers, it seems someone asks how I go about planning a beautiful container planting.
How To Create Beautiful Container Plantings Using Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers
These photos show a container that’s just been planted, and that demonstrates the concept. The planting needs to grow out to attain its full beauty, but you can see how it’s done.
The “thriller” in this case is a Spike Dracena. The thriller is always a tall plant which gives the container the visual element of height.
The “fillers” (I used two for this planting), are the Diamond Frost Euphorbia and Laguna Sky Blue Lobelia. Fillers should be as wide as they are tall and fill up the width of the container.
The “spiller” here is a Sweet Potato Vine. The spiller always spills over the edge of the container.
And finally, the “chiller” here is Dusty Miller. It’s a “cool” plant that will draw attention to the planting.
This is a young grouping that needs to fill out; however, I think it’ll be quite beautiful once it’s more mature. There are other things to consider when putting together a beautiful container planting (colors, container, soil, site, etc.); but, this is the one thing that most helps me put together successful-looking containers year after year.
For any blooming plants (as opposed to those being used for foliage), it’s also helpful to choose varieties that bloom from “planting to frost”.
The table below gives some ideas for plants that can be used in the different categories for sun or shade; but, there are hundreds of more possibilities.
|Thriller||Cannas, Cleome, Geranium, Hibiscus, Ornamental Grasses||Astilbe, Coleus, Foxglove|
|Filler||Euphorbia (Diamond Frost), Lantana, Lobelia||Begonia, Browallia, Hosta, Impatiens|
|Spiller||Calibrachoa, Petunia, Sweet Potato Vine, Verbena||Coral Bells, Fuchsia, Ivy|
|Chiller||Coleus, Dusty Miller, Geranium||Bleeding Heart, Lobelia, Oxalis|
Check out the beautiful container plantings you come across in your travels. – I bet lots of them use this concept! For ideas on how to build beautiful garden beds, read 3 Steps For Building Beautiful Garden Borders.
Here’s another example of a container planted using the same concept. It’s a little older, so you can see how beautifully the containers become as the plants mature. This one doesn’t include a “chiller”, but I still think it’s beautiful!