Friday, February 17, 2012

Container Gardening 2- Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers

Thrillers, chillers and Spillers are the tenants for ornamental containers.  Simply put, thrillers are those plants that have the "WOW" factor.  Fillers are the ones that will fill out the containers, preferably something that will enhance the thriller.  Spillers are the trailing plants at the outer edge to soften the lines of the planting.

Right now I'm in the process if the planning the six sixteen inch pots that separate the paved area of the pool and the lawn.  There is a 2 foot band of white stones that they sit on.

In the above photo the thrillers are 'Fresh Look Red' or 'Fresh Look Yellow' celosia just about to bloom.  The fillers are 'Summer Jewels Red' salvia, 'Moonsong Deep Orange' marigolds and 'Merlin Blue Morn' Petunia.  The spiller is 'Carpet of Snow' alysum.

Right now I'm thinking of 'New Look' celosia for the thriller, 'Peter Pan Gold' and 'Profusion Double Gold' zinnias, 'Janie Gold' Marigold for the filler.  The spiller would be 'Peaches' and 'Carpet of Snow' alysum.

Another idea I'm considering is 'Jams n' Jellies Blackberry' vinca as the thriller, 'Zahara Starlight Rose' zinnia, 'Frillytunia White' petunia and 'Ideal Violet' dianthus as the fillers, 'Rosie O'Day' alyssum as the spiller.

The same principal can also be used with a group of containers, with individual types in each pot.

Above,  a grouping of four pots.  'Floradale Scarlet' zinnia is is the thriller.  'Black Velvet Scarlet' geranium (not visible at this angle), 'Fire Chief' petunia are the fillers.  the spiller is my favorite, 'Carpet of Snow' alyssum.

This year I'm going to try and apply these principles to groupings of edible and ornamental containers.

If you are going to plant some containers give this principle a try.  The results are worth it!


  1. Beautiful! I have three very large planters in my front yard, that usually get planted with flowers. This year I'm going to plant your Mini Gold tomato as my thriller, basil as my filler, and probably alyssum as my spiller. Maybe. I reserve the right to change my mind ;-)

  2. Granny, great idea. If you use purple basil and throw in a yellow marigold or two, you'll have one of the combinations I'm thinking about.

  3. Ed your container pots are beautiful. Looks like we grow some similar flowers for the containers. I love using alyssum as a spiller too and always use it in the containers where I pot up a few Dahlias. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Lona, thanks! It only took years fro me to figure it out! I love alyssum as a spiller and the fragrance that wafts at you as near it.

  5. Your landscaping is first class. Very nice looking and inspiring.

  6. Kris, thanks! Now if only my edibles grew that well.