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Connecticut Garden Journal: One Pot Thriller, Filler, And Spiller Gardening

May 25, 2017

It's Memorial Day weekend. Time to get planting. When you're selecting flowers for containers, it can get overwhelming. When you walk into a garden center, the flower choices and colors can bowl you over. Where to start? 

The simplest method is to plant one type of flower in each container. My mom used to always plant red and white geraniums in her pots on her front steps. It's simple and effective. You can mix and match colors by adding more containers.

But if you want to combine different flowers together in one pot use the thriller, filler, and spiller technique. This technique will maximize the amount of space filled with flowers above and below the container rim.

Here's how it works. Use a 14- to 16-inch diameter container to accommodate about seven plants. Select a tall, narrow growing plant for the thriller and place it in the center of the container. Some examples would be purple fountain grass, angelonia, and dracena.

Next, plant three filler plants around the base. Choose annual flowers that stand about one foot tall such as profusion zinnias, salvia, and dwarf marigolds.

Finally, plant three spiller plants in between the filler plants, along the pot's edge. Some examples are petunias, calibrachoa, and sweet potato vine. They will cascade over the container's rim and provide color to the ground.

Keep the scale of the plants proportional. The tall thriller shouldn't be more than twice the height of the filler plants. Keep the pot well watered and fertilized every other week and this one container will become a showpiece on your deck or patio all summer. 

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about lavender. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.