How To Design a Container Garden
Follow this simple design concept, and boost the impact of your container gardens with plants of various sizes, textures and color combinations.
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Gardening with containers allows you the opportunity to experiment with color combinations and plant choices before committing to those plants in the garden. There are many ways to plant containers, and that can be quite intimidating, especially for beginners.
Combine Various Plants
The easiest way to begin is to combine these categories of plants: thriller, filler and spiller.
"You want to have a bold, upright, architectural plant; that's the thriller," says garden designer Steve Silk. "It really gets your attention."
The filler is the plant with medium height in the pot, or the next step down from the thriller. The spiller tumbles out of the edge of the container and falls toward the ground.
When considering plants to use as your thrillers, fillers and spillers, think about their texture, fragrance and color combinations. Individually, each plant conveys color, texture, shape, and dazzle. Yet when combined in one container or a grouping of pots, examine how the plants interact with each other. Do certain colors in one plant bring out subtle complementary colors in another? How do the various leaf shapes, sizes and textures carry through the container plantings? Is there an underlying theme that connects all the plants together?
Choose a Thriller
So how do you combine form and function into a fabulous container? Start with your focal point, or thriller. This is the plant that provides architectural structure in the pot. "Thrillers are the big, bold element, so look for shapes that are strong and pronounced," says Steve. Good options for thrillers are bananas, elephant ears, cannas and ornamental grasses.
Choose a Filler
Fillers are the plants in the middle that connect the thrillers to the spillers. "Fillers are mounding, billowy plants that I like to put around the thriller. They disguise the base of the thriller and fill up the pot with neat shapes," says Steve. Consider using plants of moderate size, such as coleus, pentas and lantana.
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