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How to Give Your Summer Planter Pots Pizazz!

Three easy floral elements to create a beautiful display.

Summer planter

Here’s a positive summer image for you: a big vibrant planter that dazzles with different textures, colors and heights among its plants. Taking in a beautiful display in all its summer glory might inspire you and motivate you at the same time. 

Fear not, a lush and stunning summer planter really only requires us to choose three distinct elements, each of which grows differently yet works in harmony with its neighbor plants. These elements are the delightfully rhyme-y “thriller,” “spiller,” and “filler.”

This is the “ta-da” element of your planter. It should be tall, bold and ready for its close-up. I like to use grasses as thrillers; this year I’m trying out a red grass that goes curly at its long, skinny ends. Another beautiful thriller is a climbing, flowering plant like a clematis or morning glory that can ascend to the top of a wooden or wrought iron form. Your thriller will bring height, dimension and excitement to your patio or stoop.

The most beautiful planters are the ones that aren’t afraid to color outside the lines. A “spiller” plant is one that loves to tumble over the edge of the pot and let its beautiful, colorful locks gently blow in the breeze. Your spiller softens the look of your pot, making it look like a more organic creation that might even start to look like one single plant rooted in place. Plants like nasturtium, creeping Jenny or sweet potato vine are excellent spillers.

One might be tempted to dismiss the humble “filler” as an afterthought, the element that does what none of the more exciting pieces could accomplish. But quite the contrary—your fillers will tell the story of your planter, and that story can be fullness, told by interesting variegated greens that add mass to the pot. It can be color, told by bloomers like heliotrope or trailing petunias. And if you find a new-to-you flower at the nursery that you’re just yearning to experiment with, using them as a filler is a great way to get to know a new floral friend.

How do you choose what to put in your garden pots?

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