Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers

"Thriller, Filler, Spiller" is a common scheme for planning show-stopping patio pots by incorporating plants with complementary growth habits. Put one large "thriller" in the center, surrounding it with one or more "fillers" and a spiller which will grow downward, anchoring your container.

Thrillers are your "stars"... usually tall, upright plants with especially dramatic flowers, colorful foliage or a unique shape that lasts all season long. Examples of some good thrillers: Canna, Spikes, and ornamental grasses. For a smaller, more subtle container, Coleus or Angelonia may be thrilling enough!

Fillers tend to be mounded plants which add texture, color, and mass while hiding the base of the thriller. If your container is large enough you don't have to choose just one! You can opt to go with leafy fillers (Coleus, Dusty Miller, Persian Shield, Rex Begonias, Plectranthus) or fillers bursting with flower power (Angelonia, Cuphea, Lantana, Pentas).

Spillers tumble out of your container, softening its appearance. Spillers can be be leafy (Alternanthera, Creeping Jenny, Ivies, Sweet Potato Vines) or very floral (Bacopa, Nasturtium, trailing Petunias and Calibrachoa). Spillers often look great in hanging baskets!

Next-Level Container Strategy

Variety of texture and form: The fillers and spillers can echo the thriller to get a monochromatic effect, or stretch into adjacent or complementary colors on the color wheel. You can go with several plants of these colors which have different flower shapes, forms or sizes. Adding some interesting texture (for instance, frilly coral sedum) or something in a neutral white (like a small-flowered Euphorbia) or near black (ornamental sweet potato, Coleus) doesn't hurt, either.

Matching size and requirements: Things will eventually go wrong if all of the plants in your container don't enjoy the same amount of sun and water (specifically, the amount of sun and water your container actually gets!). While you're still planning, make sure all of your plants will still fit in the pot you've given them in a couple of months -- Thrillers love to get big! Also, containers tend to look tidier if everything is proportional... fillers 1/3-2/3 the height of the thriller is a good rule of thumb.

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Limited Availability

We try very hard to source exactly what you’d like, but sometimes growers run out of plants! While this variety is a great deal at the price shown, we know that it has limited availability. If you want the plant even if it might be more expensive, or in a different size or quantity -- after you place your order, just send us a quick note at Then, we’ll try to get you some version of this from one of our growers. And if we can’t get it from anywhere, of course, we’ll send a refund!

Field-Grown vs. Greenhouse-Grown Plants

Plants which are well-adapted to our local climate are most often field-grown (outside). Field-grown plants are generally cheaper and have the advantage of already somewhat acclimated to our cold winters, but that means they’re not artificially far along in the spring and tend to bloom at the normal time in our area.

Spring annuals and tender perennials are typically grown in Greenhouses so they can be ready and luxurious exactly when customers want them. Some perennials are also “forced” into early bloom in greenhouses. In May, there can be a very big difference between field-grown and greenhouse-grown plants of the same type. The latter typically look good right away (so they’re a great choice where that’s important), but we typically pay a premium for it.

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  • The best plants… from the same sources the pros use, but at near wholesale prices
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About Ordering From The Plant Club

To secure the best prices for club members and make sure we know the current plants available from each nursery, we take orders only a couple of times a month.

Shoot us an email at, and we'll be happy to talk about plants or let you know when it's time to buy them!