15 Exciting Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers for Eye-Catching Potted Flower Arrangements

The Art of Container Flower Combinations

Designing with flowers in pots is a delightful blend of horticulture and floral design.

Constructing a container flower arrangement is akin to crafting a living floral display. These blossoms evolve and adjust as time marches on. Given the restricted soil space within a container, the magnitude of the plant and the expanse of its roots become critical considerations.

Aim for blossoms that offer consistent blooms throughout the season. Your chosen ensemble should boast a variety of forms and textures that harmonize and juxtapose well. Consider the ambiance you aim to evoke – is it gentle and enchanting or lively and striking? Or perhaps a unique blend of both?


While spontaneous choices can sometimes result in captivating pairings, the most memorable arrangements are those that are deliberate, symmetrical, and purposeful. This entails meticulous plant selection and an eye for color harmony. Expand your horizons beyond just flowers: incorporate herbs for both aesthetic and culinary value.

With a plethora of suitable plants available at garden centers and nurseries, the permutation of possible combinations is vast.

The Trio Technique: Thriller, Filler, and Spiller

To streamline your choices, familiarize yourself with the time-tested trio technique: thriller, filler, and spiller.


Adhere to this simple principle for consistently breathtaking floral mixes.

Center Stage with Thrillers

Commanding, elegant, and unmissable, thrillers are the anchors of your arrangement. Typically towering above their counterparts, these plants command attention and establish the mood for the surrounding ensemble.

Though many plants can take on the role of a thriller, the real game-changers possess standout attributes, be it dazzling hues, striking leaves, or intriguing silhouettes.

1. Tropical Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia)

While the classic snapdragon takes a backseat during the hot summer months, the tropical snapdragon bravely stands out, flaunting its blooms from the late spring through early autumn.

Originating from the warm terrains of Mexico, this sun-loving gem exhibits great resilience against heat and drought. Its aromatic blooms, offered in a spectrum from whites to deep purples, beautifully grace the upright spikes and rejuvenate without the need for constant pruning.

Reaching heights of 12 to 24 inches and a width of up to 12 inches, consider placing it as a centerpiece in your container garden.

Ideal Light: Direct sunlight

Flowering Time: May through September

2. Tropical Jasmine Vine (Mandevilla spp.)

Mandevilla vines offer an upward flourish, presenting aromatic and attention-grabbing blossoms throughout the summer and into autumn.

Growing up to 10 feet in-ground, in pots, the mandevilla becomes more compact, stretching up to 3 to 5 feet. Support its growth with a trellis and trim excess growth for a neat appearance. Its blooms, large and funnel-like, display in stunning shades of pink, white, and red.

Ideal Light: Full sun to dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: June till the first frost

3. Night-Blooming Jasmine (Nicotiana alata)

For those tranquil summer evenings, the night-blooming jasmine enchants with its aromatic, trumpet-shaped blossoms. The flowers, in shades ranging from white to deep red, are set atop a foundation of dark green leaves. They magically open as twilight descends, releasing an intoxicating scent.

Ideally placed in spacious pots, it can reach up to 5 feet in height and spread 2 feet across. Periodic pruning can maintain its compact appearance.

Ideal Light: Full sun to dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: June till the first frost

4. Fiery Plumes (Celosia argenta)

Celosias are captivating plants that command attention. Their distinct forms range from the vibrant feathered spires of the Plumosa Group to the more subdued shades and shapes of the Spicata Group. The Cristata Group stands out with its wavy, brain-like blooms in bright hues.

These versatile plants are adaptable to various container sizes, with some reaching 3 feet in height and others staying petite at just a foot.

Ideal Light: Direct sunlight

Flowering Time: June through frost

5. Heavenly Foliage (Caladium bicolor)

While the angel wings might have discreet blossoms, it’s the magnificently colored and shaped leaves that steal the show. With a plethora of cultivars, these plants display leaves with a mix of reds, pinks, whites, and greens in mesmerizing patterns.

From smaller varieties perfect for tabletop pots to those that stretch 3 feet tall, they can be the focal point in any container garden.

Ideal Light: Dappled to full shade

6. Tropical Iris (Canna spp.)

Making a statement from mid-summer to fall, the Tropical Iris showcases flowers reminiscent of its namesake. Flaunting a palette from fiery reds to serene creams and even dual-toned varieties, these blooms are true summer delights.

But even after the blossoms retreat, its arresting foliage captures the eye. With leaves shaped like broad paddles and hues ranging from fresh greens to fiery oranges, each variety brings its own flair. These plants, especially majestic in the sunlight, can grow up to an imposing 6 feet, making them perfect for large containers.

Ideal Light: Direct sunlight

Flowering Time: July through September

Container Companions: The Fillers

Adding volume to your container gardens, fillers embrace the main attraction, the thriller. They can be lush foliage or flowering plants, each offering a layer of depth with diverse textures and colors. Remember to choose fillers that harmonize with the size of your main plant.

7. Misty Blooms (Ageratum houstonianum)

From the arrival of spring, this plant is adorned with soft, cloud-like flowers available in an array of colors. Depending on the cultivar, its height varies, making it a versatile addition to various pot sizes. Periodic deadheading can boost its blooming frequency.

Ideal Light: Full sun to dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: June until the first frost

8. Garden Star (Petunia spp.)

Petunias have long held a special place in gardeners’ hearts, and it’s easy to see why. With countless hybrid varieties and a sprawling habit, they bring charm to any space. Their vibrant colors, combined with a delightful aroma, make them an inviting choice for many.

Ideal Light: Full sun to dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: May through frost

9. Diverse Beauty (Begonia spp.)

Boasting a massive collection of species, begonias are container favorites, celebrated either for their blossoms or their vibrant leaves. From the large-bloomed tuberous begonias to the compact wax begonias with a profusion of smaller flowers, each type offers unique beauty. And for those shady spots, the rex begonia showcases its striking heart-shaped leaves.

Ideal Light: Dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: June till the first frost

10. Cheerful Charms (Gerbera jamesonii)

With its foundation of deep green leaves, the Gerbera daisy presents its radiant blooms atop slender, bare stems. The daisies, up to 5 inches wide, come in a spectrum of joyful hues. Known to flower freely during warmer months, their most abundant blooms grace early summer and late autumn gardens.

Ideal Light: Full sun to dappled sunlight

Flowering Time: May to October

11. Blue Cascade Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)

With a spread that can either flow or mound, the Blue Cascade Lobelia boasts countless blooms that often conceal its foliage. These tiny tubular blossoms exhibit a trio of striking lower petals available in shades from serene blue to passionate pink.

Flourishing best in the milder temperatures of spring and fall, in intense summer heat, it thrives under morning sunlight and afternoon shade. If it starts to look weary in heat, a light trimming can revitalize its bloom.

Growing between 4 and 9 inches, lobelia adds a splash of color to hanging decorations, boxes, and other containers.

Optimal Light: Morning sun to dappled afternoon shade

Flowering Span: April until first frost

The Draping Spillers: Adding Flow and Grace

Elevate your container’s aesthetics by incorporating spillers – plants that cascade beautifully over edges, lending texture and depth. They flawlessly complement the boldness of the thriller and the volume of the filler.

12. Tiny Trumpets (Calibrachoa spp.)

A gardener’s delight, Tiny Trumpets churn out countless miniature, petunia-esque blossoms all growing season long. These vibrant blooms range from cool violets to warm oranges, ensuring a harmonious blend. With a modest height and wide-reaching stems, it’s a hassle-free plant that remains ever-blooming without the need for deadheading.

Optimal Light: Direct sunlight

Flowering Span: June until first frost

13. Golden Veil (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)

Though invasive when unleashed in gardens, the Golden Veil can be enjoyed without restraint in containers. With its elegant draping stems and coin-shaped leaves that alter hues based on sunlight exposure, it adds contrast to any botanical ensemble. Come early summer, it is adorned with cheerful yellow blossoms.

Optimal Light: Direct to dappled sunlight

Flowering Span: June

14. Feathery Cascade (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’)

Desiring a different texture? The Feathery Cascade, with its arching stems and soft, needle-like foliage, provides the desired contrast. Come late spring, it showers itself in tiny fragrant blossoms, later turning into vibrant red berries.

While it’s a beloved houseplant in zones 9 to 11 and invasive in specific areas, it can be safely cultivated outside in colder regions. When winter nears, move it indoors to relish its graceful presence year-round.

Optimal Light: Dappled sunlight

Flowering Span: May to June

15. Desert Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)

A sun-loving sprawler, the Desert Rose is equipped for heat and arid conditions. Perfect for any container, it stretches out gracefully while reaching a modest height. Its succulent nature ensures resilience against the sun, and its rosette-like blossoms, which close during cloudy days, add a touch of the tropics.

Optimal Light: Direct sunlight

Flowering Span: June until first frost

Container Garden Mastery: Tips & Tricks

The aforementioned 15 plants for container gardening are just a starting point; the botanical world brims with choices! To ace your container designs, keep these points in mind:

  • Simplicity is Key: Especially for small containers, limit to three plant types. Bigger ones can host up to seven varieties.
  • Tone it Down: While a vibrant mix can be tempting, a restrained color palette of 3 to 5 hues often works best.
  • Experiment & Enjoy: While the thriller-filler-spiller method is tried-and-true, don’t hesitate to venture out. Sometimes, breaking the mold can yield stunning results. Remember, container designs can be revamped each season, allowing endless creativity!
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