Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers Part 2

By Hattie Ryan 

Welcome back for the last step in creating a stunning planting container! To get a full scope of this process refer to step 1 and 2 which are covered in part 1 of this series. 

The final step is finding the right spillers for your container. These plants fill the space along the lip of the container and cascade or drape over the edge as they grow. The spilling effect adds drama and interest to the pot and fills in the edges. Spillers play a key role in complementing the fillers and thrillers by creating a cohesive piece of art by drawing the eye away from the more vertically inclined fillers and spillers. Beautiful examples of spillers include dichondra “silver falls,” creeping jenny, sweet potato vine, and alternantheras.

“Sedona Sunset” Coleus is used as a filler with fuchsia hanging down as the spiller for this shade container

Add another layer of interest to your container by growing edible flowers and plants. If you have never used edible flowers, nasturtiums are an excellent choice and a great place to start! Add nasturtium flowers or leaves to any cocktail or on a salad to add color and depth to your dinner party. Bachelor button, lavender, dill, squash blossoms, calendula, sunflowers, and hollyhocks are some plants with edible flowers that can be added to any container.


Nasturtium flowers and leaves used in a cocktail

Now let’s put all of the pieces together by deconstructing a container I created to highlight TLC’s new business venture of fabricating steel planters. The dimensions of this steel planter are 2′ x 3′ and the talented TLC crew filled most of the planter with rock to minimize the amount of soil needed towards the top. The thriller plants in the middle are canna lilies that will continue to push vibrant red blooms throughout the summer. The filler plants include dark purple “Stained Glassworks Molten Lava” coleus and Salvia “Fashion Cherry” (Salvia x Buchananii) which are placed around the canna lilies. The spiller plants include Dichondra “Emerald Falls” in the corners and Lotus Vine Parrot’s Beak hanging over the sides. This planter is a lovely example of how to put the three categories together in a creative and colorful arrangement.

TLC Gardens’ Gallagher Farm project in Boulder, Colorado.


This steel planter is located at our Gallagher Farm project in Boulder, Colorado. If you are interested in seeing more of this project make sure to check out the website in the next months for a complete description and project photographs. Also, make sure to follow us on Instagram @tlc_gardens to see on going progress of our projects. 

As you peruse all the luxurious plant varieties out there keep the “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” phrase in mind to whip up a creative and gorgeous container planter. It is a great place to start but keep in mind that  rules are meant to be broken! Don’t hold back if you feel inspired to put several varieties of thrillers together and nix the spillers and fillers. Have fun and follow your intuition and creativity wherever it takes you!