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.

Font
  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends

x

All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.

Refresh

Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail

Success!

A link to %this page% was e-mailed

Potted Plants on Front Porch

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.

Zinnia Combined with FoliageEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-Image courtesy of Susan Morgan
« Previous12

We Recommend...

How to Grow a Watercress Container Garden

How to Grow a Watercress Container Garden

Garnish your food with tasty, shiny watercress leaves — or make a yummy salad with watercress as the main attraction.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants.

How to Make a Window Box Container Garden

How to Make a Window Box Container Garden

Create a beautiful window box that will beautify the outside of your home and add an outdoor touch through the windows from the...

Advertisement

HGTV Outdoors Newsletter

Find out how to make the most of patios, decks and all your outdoor areas, plus tips from master gardeners for beautiful flower beds and bountiful vegetable gardens.