If you want to create seasonal flower pots that look like they were professionally planted, commit these three words to memory:
thrill, fill and spill. 

Planting your warm-weather flower pots doesn’t take much thought. Dig holes, plop in the plants and add water. Pretty simple, right? Except, when was the last time anyone told you how amazing your planters look? In fact, when did they really excite you? Well, there’s a simple design approach gardening pros often use to give containers the look and love they deserve. And here’s the good news: It isn’t any more complicated than thrill, fill and spill.

The practice involves positioning an upright plant that “thrills” in the center of the container. Then, mid-sized plantings are positioned to “fill” the area around the vertical plant with complementary color and texture. Finally, trailing plants are added to “spill” over the edges of the container, softening the composition and draping greenery and blooms down the planter’s sides.

THRILL  Center a tall, upright plant and center it in the container as a primary focal point. Choose a specimen with dramatic form, foliage and/or flowers. 
Plants to consider: dracaena, canna lilies, flax, ornamental grasses, dwarf spruce and tall flowering plants like hydrangea, tall phlox, snapdragons, diplandenia and butterfly bushes. 
FILL Surround the upright plant with mid-level plants that fill the area around the centered specimen while delivering color, texture and volume. Select foliage and flowers that add color and texture without overwhelming the “thrill” plant. 
Plants to consider: petunias, geraniums, marigolds, coleus, sage, African daisies, small zinnia and begonias.
SPILL  Plant trailing flora that grow beyond the rim of the container and cascade over its sides, visually softening the arrangement and the planter’s edge. 
Plants to consider: sweet potato vine, trailing lobelia, lantana, ivy, verbena, creeping Jenny and cascading petunias.

Get more gardening advice from our local pros here.

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.