In the Dirt by Ray Greenstreet

Get Inspired With Your Summer Planters! We’ll Show You How

(Photos: Greenstreet Gardens)

Alexandria, VA  – The beauty of container gardens is that you can plant wherever you want in them, but the question is: how do you make them stand out? Professionals have a trick called the thriller, spiller, filler design method. Here’s what it’s all about and how to use it at home!

Thrillers: The Centerpiece of a Design 

The most impressive garden planters always have a plant that stands out and grabs your attention; it’s the pop star of your container. There are dancers all around, but it’s the flashy ones stealing the show! In other words, the thriller is a plant that immediately draws you in with impressive features. Tall, flashy plants with big flowers, tall stems, and impressive leaves are the perfect options for thrillers. Try canna lilies, yucca, bromeliads, irises, ferns, or ornamental grasses.

Fillers: The Stage Support

Fillers are all the plants you place around the centerpiece. They’re like the dancers surrounding the leading performer. They’re not as showy as the thriller, but they provide the choreography to make the whole scene impressive. Some make a powerful texture contrast, while others bring a color counterpoint. They don’t just fill up space in your planter but help complete the whole look. Begonias, dusty millers, angelonias, coleus, pansies, and lantanas are all examples of excellent stage support in a container design.

Spillers: Plants Around the Edges  

A good performance is rarely just a singer and the dancers. It also includes lights, mist, fireworks, and other effects to blur the edges around the scene. Spillers play a similar role in a container garden. They spill over the edge, concealing the pot and creating beautiful trailing, weeping, or waterfall effects. These overflowing plants give a sense of abundance, as though the plants were so plentiful that they’re growing beyond the pot. Impressive spillers include nasturtiums, creeping golden Jenny, pansies, petunias, zinnias, sweet alyssum, sweet potato vine, and ivy geraniums.

Other Design Tips 

Choosing the right plants is only part of the equation! When putting your planter together, consider these tips to make your containers stand out and impress:

  • Consider Your Plants’ Needs: remember your plants can only bring their best to the stage if you give them proper care; try to group plants with similar water and sunlight needs. Keeping your planter looking in top shape will be easier if they all get along and are happy with the same care.
  • Use Interesting Containers: don’t forget to consider the stage itself—in other words, the container. You can use a simple pot if you like, but you can also get creative by growing plants in vintage barrels, rustic pots, or anything you can think of if it has proper drainage.
  • Create Themed Designs: whether you want to create containers with color or holiday themes, you can get super creative and have a lot of fun with your designs! You could even get the kids involved in making their own planters to take care of through the summer.
  • Use Colorful Foliage: flowers are the go-to choice for adding color but don’t forget that you can also use colorful leaves. Coleus, caladiums, dusty millers, and begonias are just a few annuals that stand out for their foliage.
  • Combine Planters: it’s satisfying to create a beautiful design for a planter but remember that they don’t have to stand alone. You can combine and incorporate several different planters into your overall garden design.

Have some fun and get creative with your container designs! If you can imagine it, you can design it!

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