THRILLERS … FILLERS … SPILLERS!
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s start with the basics!
We are creating a container garden, which means we need to start with a container, right?! Be sure the container you choose has drainage! Most containers today have predrilled drainage holes, plugs that can be removed to create drainage holes, or allow you the ability to drill your own drainage holes, but there are still some containers out there for water gardens and water features that do not have drainage holes. This is important because the last thing you want is for your plants to have wet feet! If the container you absolutely love and have your heart set on does not have drainage holes, don’t worry! You can fill the bottom with stone, empty plastic water bottles or packing peanuts (just make sure they are not the biodegradable ones, or your planter will start to sink throughout the season!).
Choosing a potting mix with good moisture retention, but that is also well-draining, and one that includes slow release fertilizer will ensure proper feeding throughout the season!
Now to think… Where will your container garden sit? Will it be getting full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) or maybe full shade (less than 4 hours of direct sunlight)? How much do I want to be watering my planter? The amount of watering will change seasonally with the change in weather, but the pot size also dictates how often you water! The smaller the pot, the more often you will have to water because there will be less soil to hold in the moisture. Also consider just how high maintenance you would, or would not, like your container garden to be! Do you enjoy deadheading (believe it or not, some people do! It is like a therapy to us!) or trimming your plants? Once you have taken all of this into consideration, and you feel you are ready…it is time to dive into…
THRILLERS … FILLERS … SPILLERS!
What is a THRILLER?
A thriller plant is the drama queen, the attention getter! This is the plant that adds height and color to the container! Thriller plants can include grasses, salvia, angelonia, and argyranthemum.
What is a FILLER?
A filler plant does exactly what its name says! It fills in the space in-between the thriller and spiller plants! The filler plant will give you shape and lots of color and texture! Try using euphorbia, calibrachoa, or petunias as your filler plant.
What is a SPILLER?
A spiller plant SPILLS out over the container! It is a trailing plant that will add interest to your container garden, and over the edge of your container garden! You can use plants such as sweet potato vines or vinca vines to add texture, or try using bacopa or lobularia to add color.
There are a few other things to consider. As a good rule of thumb, it is said that the mature plant height should be no more than one and a half times the height of your container. You also have to consider where your container garden will be setting to make sure your container and plants are not too tall or too wide. Will your container garden sit flush against a wall, or will it be seen from all sides? If it is flush against a wall or structure, you can create a “backside” to your planter, where your thriller will start, and working your way front with the fillers and spillers. If the container garden can be seen from all sides, then it is best to put the thriller plant in the middle, and work evenly around the container with the filler and spiller plants. Be sure to pack on lots of colors and textures, and not just in flowers! There are a lot of great plants out there that are considered foliage, but can provide an array of colors and textures! Try sweet potato vines, rex begonias, coleus, and helichrysum (Licorice plant).
Finally? The fun part! Plant! Get those hands dirty, play in the soil! And when you are finished, water your container, step back, and take it in! It is your masterpiece! Sit back and enjoy it all summer long!