Container Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers

Container Gardening
Butterfly Argyranthemum Thriller

There are many different ways to make your container garden gorgeous. One of the simplest decorating techniques is using the so-called "Thriller, Filler, Spiller" concept. It is one of the easiest ways to make your containers appear rich and full of flowers.

The key to this technique is to use 3 different types of plants to make your container really stand out. It is a great way to make a container colorful and to make it appear rich and full of healthy plants. There are some ways to achieve the best effects but it's important to know that it's ok to mix annuals and perennials.

To make your container stand out using this technique you will need to plant three different types of plants in it: thrillers, fillers and spillers.


Thriller plants add height and a full vertical element to your containers. These are plants that grow thin and tall. You may use foliage plants of flowering plants as thrillers ‐ it depends on your personal choice. Ornamental grasses are also a good choice for thrillers. Butterfly Argyranthemum is one of the best thriller plants.

It's best to put thrillers at the back of the container though some people choose to put them in the center. There is an upside to both of these approaches. If you put them in the back they will be viewed only from one side, so this is the best approach if you wish to put your container near a wall, to be viewed only from the front. If you want the container to be viewed from all sides, it's better to put thrillers in the center of the container.


The next step is choosing a nice filler for your container. Fillers are more rounded or mounted. These are plants that will make your container look full. They will make it look rich and like there are a lot of plants in the container. Petunia varieties make excellent fillers.

Fillers are positioned in relation to thrillers. If you decide to put your thriller at the back, you will plant fillers in front of it. If you placed a thriller in the center, you should plant the fillers around it. It's also possible to plant fillers midway between the edge of the container and the thriller.


Spillers are added at the end. These are trailing plants that will hang over the edge of the container. Therefore, they are always placed close to the edge of the container. If you wish for container to be viewed from all sides, make sure to plant spillers on all sides of the container. In case the container should be viewed only from one side, place spiller in the front of the container. Sweet potato vine makes an excellent spiller.

Photo credit: Serres Fortier

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