Container Gardens: Thriller, Spiller & Filler Plant Options

Starting a container garden is easy and a great way to add a flourish of vibrant colour to any landscape - especially smaller ones. Think of your container garden as a miniature flower garden or floral arrangement. The selected plants should give your container both width and height. To create a well-rounded, appealing container garden that stands out, utilize the "thrillers, spillers, and fillers" plant selection technique.

The Thrillers

Thrillers are tall plants that add height to a container. The vertical accent provides scale with the pot and surrounding environment. Thrillers can be flowering or foliage plants such as ornamental grasses, variegated bamboo, canna lily, elephant ears, and spikes. Thrillers are placed in the center of the container, when viewed from all sides, or the back of the container, when viewed from one side, and should grow to be about twice as tall as the container. Edibles also work as thrillers. Swiss chard, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes raise sightlines while also yielding some delicious bounty.

The Spillers

Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the container. Trailing plants can also help keep container plantings in scale. Trailing vines and flowering plants help connect the plantings to the container while hiding and softening its edges. If viewed from all sides, spillers are placed all around the container. If viewed from one side, spillers are placed primarily in the front. Examples of spillers include sweet potato vine, vinca vine, ivy, wave petunias, lantana, calibrachoa (million bell petunia), and bacopa.

The Fillers

Fillers are rounded or mounded plants that fill in the middle area of the container. These plants bridge the tall thrillers and trailing spillers, add lots of interest, and showcase the focal points of the arrangement. Examples of fillers include geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, coleus, begonia, caladium, ornamental pepper, herbs, and smaller ornamental grasses.