Thriller, Filler, Spiller Technique

As we eagerly anticipate the long summer days ahead, envisioning lush cascading planters is a delightful way to prepare for the season.

Now is the perfect time to start planning and planting your outdoor oasis! One of the secrets to a successful planter design is mastering the "Thriller, Filler, and Spiller" technique. This approach involves combining plants of different heights and textures to create a stunning and balanced arrangement.



Understanding the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller 


The thriller plant is the centerpiece of your planter, adding height, drama, and a touch of excitement. This is the plant that catches the eye and draws attention to your arrangement.

  • Examples of thriller plants:
    • Cordyline (Cordyline fruticosa): With its striking, sword-shaped leaves in shades of green, pink, or red, Cordyline adds a tropical flair to your planter.
    • Dracaena (Dracaena marginata): This elegant plant features slender, arching leaves that add a vertical accent to your arrangement.
    • Ornamental Grasses: These grasses provide graceful movement and texture, with burgundy-red foliage that stands out.
    • Salvia (Salvia splendens): Known for its vibrant spikes of red, purple, or white flowers, Salvia brings a burst of colour and attracts pollinators.
    • Geranium (Pelargonium spp.): Geraniums offer a classic choice with their colourful blooms and aromatic foliage, perfect for adding height and charm.




Filler plants play a supporting role, adding volume and substance to the planter. These plants create a lush backdrop that complements the thriller and fills in the space.

  • Examples of filler plants:
    • Petunia (Petunia spp.): Petunias are versatile fillers, available in a wide range of colours and patterns, providing continuous blooms throughout the season.
    • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides): With its colourful and patterned foliage, Coleus adds texture and interest to your planter.
    • Begonia (Begonia spp.): Begonias offer a profusion of flowers in various colours, ideal for adding a splash of brightness to your arrangement.
    • New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri): These shade-loving plants produce large, showy flowers that thrive in containers.
    • Lantana (Lantana camara): Lantana's clusters of tiny flowers in vibrant hues attract butterflies and hummingbirds, making it a lively filler plant.




Spiller plants gracefully spill over the edges of the planter, softening the container's edges and adding a dynamic, cascading effect. They create a sense of movement and visual interest.

  • Examples of spiller plants:
    • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia): This low-growing plant with bright chartreuse foliage trails beautifully over the sides of the planter.
    • Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas): Available in various colours, the trailing stems of Sweet Potato Vine provide a vibrant contrast and texture.
    • Bacopa (Sutera cordata): Bacopa produces delicate, trailing flowers in shades of white, pink, or blue, perfect for adding a soft touch to your arrangement.
    • Ivy (Hedera helix): Ivy's cascading growth habit adds a classic and elegant look to your planter, with evergreen foliage that offers year-round interest.
    • Dichondra (Dichondra spp.): Known for its round, silvery leaves, Dichondra creates a stunning trailing effect, especially in hanging baskets and containers.



Key Things to Keep in Mind When Building a Planter

  1. Choose the Right Container

    • Select a container that complements your plants and suits your outdoor space. Consider the size, material, and style of the container, ensuring it has adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

  2. Consider Sunlight and Water Needs

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Place your planter in a location that receives the appropriate amount of sunlight for your chosen plants. Be mindful of their watering requirements to keep them healthy and thriving.

  3. Mix Textures and Colours

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Create visual interest by combining plants with different textures, leaf shapes, and colours. Experiment with contrasting or complementary hues to achieve a vibrant and harmonious display.

  4. Regular Maintenance

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Keep your planter looking its best by regularly deadheading spent flowers, pruning overgrown plants, and fertilizing as needed. Remove any debris or weeds to promote healthy growth.

  5. Plan for Succession

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the season to ensure your planter remains vibrant and colourful. Consider adding seasonal plants or swapping out plants as needed to refresh your arrangement.



With these tips and the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller technique, you'll be well-equipped to design and build stunning planters that will enhance your outdoor living spaces this spring. Let your creativity flourish as you create your own botanical masterpiece!

Happy gardening!


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