The Greenhouse

Ferry-Morse Home Gardening Blog & Growing Resource Center

Ferry-Morse Home Gardening Blog — May 13, 2021

Creating Statement Containers for Your Garden, Yard or Patio
Using Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers

An adult Ferry-Morse gardener showing a young gardener how they're going to put together a statement hanging basket.

A Ferry-Morse gardener explaining the layout of a statement hanging basket using Plantlings™ to a young gardener.

eady to be the talk of the neighborhood this season thanks to your thoughtfully crafted container garden? This blog is going to cover how you can put together your own statement piece(s) using the thriller, filler and spiller method in containers of all kinds — be it window boxes, hanging baskets or planters.

STEP I. Choose your thriller flowers and/or plants.

The focal point of your container will consist of what we call our thrillers. These bold, eye-catching flowers and ornamental plants are often located towards the center of your container and, as they mature, will continue to grow upwards. If you plan on placing your container against a wall, keep your thrillers centered and towards the back. Depending on the size of your container, you can transplant one or several plant starts as thrillers.

Circular image of a statement container with beautiful blooming zinnias as the

Ornamental grasses are also commonly used in thriller, filler and spiller container pieces. *In the photo above, the gardener is using a colorful assortment of zinnias as their thrillers.

QUICK TIP: When you're choosing your thrillers, be sure to take into consideration whether or not the plant will thrive in a container & what kind of spacing is needed to mature — avoid overcrowding at all costs. Overcrowding may stunt plant growth and flowering plants may not bloom.

Some great thriller options include salvia, verbena, zinnia and rosemary.

STEP II. Select your filler flowers and/or plants.

Fillers are exactly what their name implies, they add girth to your container to help fluff-up and fill-out whatever arrangement you choose. Fillers can either grow around/with the base of your thrillers or you can plant fillers on either the left or right of whatever spiller you choose (we'll cover spillers next).

Circular image of a statement container with beautiful blooming geraniums as the

When looking for plants that are going to add mass to your containers, you can always look beyond your standard flower options. The image depicting our fillers example contains beautiful geraniums in full blooming glory.

But! Did you know you could use an herb like basil as your filler, too? Not only would basil make a great addition to your container because it's easy to grow, but you could harvest fresh basil leaves all season long on top of it!

Other great filler examples include cosmos, marigold and coleus.

Gardener using marigolds as a filler piece and soon transplanting sweet potato vine seedlings as the spiller piece of a white container.

A gardener preparing to add some spillers (sweet potato vine) around their fillers (marigolds) using Plantlings™ in a small white container.

STEP III. Bring it all together with your spillers!

Circular image of a statement container with beautiful blooming petunias the

The parts of your statement container that are going to cascade over the edges — grounding your piece to the earth that produced it. That. That's your spiller. Plant your spillers around the edges of your container with enough space to grow. Soon these plants will be tumbling over the sides and bringing that final touch to your creation.

Your spiller options are going to include plants such as sweet potato vine, thunbergia, lobelia, petunias and vinca major — to name a few. But really your options are endless and open to any plant with a trailing habit, which should work just fine for the look you're going for.

An adult and child gardener filling a hanging basket with some salvia as their thrillers and some white petunias as their spillers.

An adult and child gardener adding some spillers (white petunia & sweet potato vine plantlings) in a hanging basket.

There you have it!

Creating statement pieces using the thriller, filler and spiller method is simple and enjoyable. It can be done by yourself or with family and friends as a bonding experience. Test different combinations of flowers and other plants each season to see what you love the most.

Think outside of the box, your statement containers don't only have to contain flowers and ornamentals. Your statement piece doesn't even have to include all three parts: break it up and choose a thriller and a spiller, leaving out the thriller. You can use herbs and vegetable plants as well. Oh, on the plus side, when you use herb and veggies in your statement containers, you get to snip some for use in your drinks and food dishes, too!

Have you created your own statement container in the past?
Drop us a comment below and let us know what mixture of plants you love seeing together!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published