<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P46CBCM" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe>
Skip to main content
Trillers fillers and spillers


Looking for stunning displays every time you plant a container? Simply follow this easy guide which covers the thrillers, fillers and spillers planting technique   

Thrillers, fillers and spillers - these are the three key ingredients you need whenever you’re getting ready to plant up a new container. You may have heard of this technique before, but don’t worry if you haven’t - it’s extremely easy to follow, even if it’s your first time  

The thrillers, fillers and spillers planting technique simply means choosing three plants that have different heights and planting them in one planter to add colour, depth and texture to your garden. It’s a guaranteed way to create instantly gorgeous pots every single time you plant  

Planting up your own container is an excellent, cost-effective way to create an eye-catching display in your garden, using the other beautiful blooms in your beds and borders as a backdrop. There are countless combinations of plants and colours to choose from, meaning that each new time you want to plant a container you can customise and create something new. Maybe you choose colours that complement or match the rest of your garden plants and decor the first time, and the next time you decide to use a riot of contrasting colours – the possibilities are almost endless!  

Whether you’re looking to create a garden centrepiece or simply bring immediate colour to a dull corner outdoors, all you have to do is think thriller, spiller and filler whenever you’re choosing plants to add in your containers – keep reading to find out more about each type of plant, plus how to correctly plant up your container for the ultimate showstopping display 

Trillers fillers and spillers


Simply put, thrillers, fillers and spillers are plants you can put in a container that have different heights and textures. Using a mixture of these three plants creates a fuller looking container that has everything you’re looking for in a garden display, which is dimension, height and colour  

When choosing your plants, make sure you pick colours that suit your container and other flower displays. The colours you choose entirely depends on your personal tastes, but usually one or two shades of complementary colours looks best – for example, purple and pink 

Trillers fillers and spillers


These are your tallest, most impressive plants that go at the back of your container. These are usually flowers, but in larger pots could also be trees or shrubs. Examples of thriller plants are:  

  • Hydrangea  

  • Geranium  

  • Snapdragon  

  • Canna lillies 



Fillers are your bushy and bright plants used to close or fill any gaps in your container where soil is still showing. Planted in the middle, these will have the most colour and texture. Fillers should complement your thriller plants and pull the look together. Some good filler plants to include in your planters are:   

  • Hostas  

  • Petunia  

  • Cosmos  

  • Eucalyptus 



As the name suggests, spillers are plants that hang over the sides on the container, or ‘spill’ over the edge. Their purpose is to add gorgeous cascading foliage and texture, as well as colour and visual interest, to the overall look of the pot. Spiller plants can be:  

  • Ivy  

  • Fern  

  • Creeping jenny  

  • Dichondra ‘silver falls’


Our gardening expert’s top tip: When choosing the plants for your container make sure they have similar care requirements, like the amount of water and sunlight they need, so they’ll all work well together when planted  

Trillers fillers and spillers


Planting a container using the thrillers, fillers and spillers method is super quick and easy, with almost immediate payoff  

To plant a container, you will need:   

  • A large container  

  • Compost  

  • Trowel  

  • Gloves  

  • Your choice of thriller, filler and spiller plants  

In our container, we've chosen Hydrangea as our thriller because it’s our plant of the month, and we love the large, showy flowers and how it comes in various colours. We’ve also picked Heuchera as our filler and mini ivy for the spiller since it creates a lovely trail - but remember you can pick anything that suits your personal style 



Step 1: Fill half container with peat free multi-purpose compost   

Step 2: Start with your thrillers. Plant these in the back or centre of your planter  

Step 3: Next, plant your fillers around your thrillers, making sure all bare spots are filled  

Step 4: Finish off by adding spillers at the front of the pot so they trail over the side, giving the display a softer edge