Thrillers, fillers, and spillers

Do you plant containers? Here are three reasons why they are perfect for your garden. They are versatile, they can be moved to different spots in your garden or patio to change up your view, and the plantings are limited only by your imagination.

My love for containers is no secret to anyone who follows this column. I have two large patios and, over the years, have collected containers of all shapes and sizes, mostly large ones because they are the easiest to care for especially during long, hot summers. I plant perennials in many of them so that come spring I can fill in with a few annuals.

While there are a few guidelines for the best, most striking containers, the Garden Police will not give you a ticket if you don’t follow them. Probably the most important “rule” for container plantings is using a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. That will give you various heights and widths and take the eyes up and down and all around in admiring your efforts. Another idea is to incorporate plant stands of varying heights into your container groupings.

Playing the odds

One of the other “rules” I tend to follow is planting in odd numbers, either three, five, or seven plants depending on the size of the container. I’ve been doing that so long I’m not even sure where I learned that bit of advice but it seems to work well.

A thriller, filler, and spiller. Red Ivy Leaf Geranium, Raspberry Angelonia, and trailing purple moon torenia from Mitzi’s garden.

Also, if you are grouping planters, say in a corner of your yard, beds, or patio, the odd numbers are also eye-appealing.

Spinning the color wheel

The centerpiece of the purple grouping features purple Angelonia, lavender New Guinea impatiens, and amethyst trailing torenia.

What’s your favorite color? Plant that. Again, no rules. I personally like to try new things…new plants, new color groupings, and new monochromatic plantings. Some of the containers on my back patio get a little more shade than in other areas. Also, I have a fountain on the patio wall which is very soothing. This year, I did a grouping of three pots which varying shades of purple to match the peacefulness of that space.

Other containers and urns feature a variety of colors which I love, groupings in the same color family, or a riot of colors that are opposites on the color wheel. Again, plant the colors you like, after all, you are the one who will be enjoying them!

Perennials in containers

Don’t be afraid to experiment with perennials in your container groupings. First, it will give you a jumpstart for spring planting. Your thriller is already in place. Then you can select your annual fillers and spillers.

I have two very large fairly low, round bowl-shaped containers. They are both home to some Stella D’oro reblooming daylilies. Each year, I change up the annuals to plant with them. Some of my favorites include Ivy Leaf Geraniums, verbena, torenia, creeping jenny, million bells, and purslane. This year I chose some hot pink verbena to offset the brilliant yellow of the daylilies. Of course, if my container is large enough, I love to place one of my cherub statues in the grouping:)

Next week, we’ll explore some good potting mix and mulch options to keep your containers thriving in the months ahead. Happy planting!

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