Windsor Greenhouse container gardens at front door

Container Garden University: How to Design an Arrangement

When you design your own container garden, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and bring your ideas to life! However, if you’re new to container garden design, you might be nervous about how the results will look. How do you get them to look like a professional created them instead of a newbie who’s totally winging it? We have the answer here!

Windsor Greenhouse container gardens designs

The Basic Design Idea Behind Container Gardens

There are three main components to container garden designs: Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers.

Thrillers are tall plants with major pizazz. They tend to take center stage in your container garden designs.

Fillers are mounded plants that are lush and thick, maintaining a fairly consistent shape to fill in the gaps around your Thrillers. 

Spillers are trailing garden plants that grow long vines that spill down the edges of your container.

The ideal layout of your container garden depends on where you plan on placing it. If you’ve got it up against a wall or fence, you’ll want the Thrillers to be in the very back. If you want to maintain 360° sightlines all around your container garden, then those Thrillers should go smack dab in the center of the pot. 

From there, surround your Thrillers with your Filler plants, but leave enough room around the edge to plant your Spillers so they can trail down that edge. 

Container Garden Design Pro Tip #1: When planting your selections in your mixed arrangement, leave some space between the plants and don’t pack them in too tightly. Remember, they’re going to grow all summer, so they’ll need some breathing room to allow them to spread out a bit. Before you know it, you’ll have a lush, voluminous planter that’s bursting with colour and life! Take a before and after photo to see your progress—you’ll be amazed! 

Windsor Greenhouse thriller plant canna lily

The Best Thriller Plants for Container Gardens

Thrillers are tall, showy, and bursting with colour! Here are some of our favourite plants and flowers with all the necessary wow-factor:

Windsor Greenhouse filler plants in container garden

Our Favourite Fillers for Container Gardens

Fillers are the unsung heroes of container gardens. They help maintain balance and prevent unsightly bare spots—plus, there are so many vibrant varieties to choose from! Here are some of our go-to Fillers for DIY planter arrangements:

  • Coleus
  • Heuchera
  • Impatiens
  • Geraniums
  • Pansies
  • Begonias
Windsor Greenhouse ipomoea plant

Beautiful Spillers for Container Gardens

There’s something magical about trailing vines—they add so much drama and visual impact that we can’t help but swoon over them. Here are the best trailing Spiller plants to complete your arrangement:

  • Sweet Potato Vines
  • Petunias
  • Calibrachoas
  • Lobelia
  • Ivy
  • Creeping Jenny

Container Garden Design Pro Tip #2: To ensure your container garden is successful, try to pick plants with similar care requirements. For example, if you pick a Thriller that loves the sun and is super drought-tolerant and a Filler that prefers shade and wants consistently moist soil, it will be impossible to keep them both happy. Double-check the needs of all your chosen plants to ensure they’ll make good housemates in their planter. 

Windsor Greenhouse planting a flower pot

Are you in need of a little inspiration to spark ideas for your container design in Abbotsford? Visit Windsor Greenhouse and take a stroll through our plant displays—those creative juices will instantly start flowing! If you need any help picking compatible plants that will suit your outdoor space, don’t hesitate to ask any of our staff for some tips. We’re seasoned pros at putting together beautiful mixed arrangements!