"Thriller," "Filler," "Spiller!"

Patio pots brimming with colorful annuals are the perfect summer accent for any patio, porch or backyard. But there's more to planting great pots than throwing together a bunch of flowers. Here's a great design scheme that's used by professional planters and amateurs alike - and all you need to remember are three words - "Thriller," "Filler" and "Spille!"

Preparing Your Pot First, of course, you’ll need to pick out a good pot. Any size or material is fine as long as there are drainage holes on the bottom. Fill the pot up with potting mix so that your plants still sit below the lip. When you’re done, you want the soil line to by about ½” below the lip of the plant to avoid water run off. Once you’ve got your soil poured in, sprinkle in a handful of Bio-Tone Starter. Layout We always recommend placing the plastic pots in your container first so you can get an idea of how everything will look and shift them around if you need to. Here’s the basic layout we’ll use for this pot:

Thriller The first thing to start with is your “thriller.” A thriller can be anything that’s tall and flashy to catch the eye. A traditional “thriller” is often a foliage plant, like purple fountain grass or spikes like cordyline or dracaena, but you can try or even geraniums. For our pot, we’ve picked a nice purple cordyline spike to center everything around.

Spiller With your thriller in place, it’s time to move on the “Spillers.” Spillers are any trailing or vine-y plants that will cascade down the side of the pot. This gives the pot a full, lush look. Spillers can either be foliage plants like Sweet Potato Vine or trailing flowers like supertunias, calibrachoas or bacopa. Or you can mix them, like we did. For our spillers, we’ve got a Sweet Georgia Heartlight Green Sweet potato vine, a “Premier Pink” calibrachoa and a “Bidy Gonzales” bidens for our spillers.

Filler As the name implies, “Fillers” will fill up the rest of the space in the pot. You want these to be shorter than the thriller, with a kind of mounding habit, ideally with tons of beautiful flowers. Petunias are the classic choice, but other annual favorites like snapdragons, marigolds and pansies (especially in early spring or fall) also make excellent fillers. For our pot we’ve gone with all petunias. “Potunias” to be precise – a variety of petunia specially grown for a rounded, compact, well branched shape covered with an abundance of blooms. In other words, the perfect “Fillers!”

Planting Once you're happy with your layout, start from the back and, one-by one, take the plants out of their pots and tease the roots at the bottom. Place the flowers back in their places and fill in the gasp with potting mix. Once everything is all set, give the pot a good, heavy watering. New potting soil is often pretty dry and can suck up water away from the roots of the plants so, at least to start, give the pot a lot of water to get it going. And of course, don't forget the Magic!

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