Learn How to Use the Thrill, Fill, and Spill Container Gardening Method - Dengarden - Home and Garden
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Learn How to Use the Thrill, Fill, and Spill Container Gardening Method

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher. She earned a master's degree at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA.

This article will provide information on the "thrill, fill, and spill" method of container gardening made famous by "Better Homes and Gardens."

This article will provide information on the "thrill, fill, and spill" method of container gardening made famous by "Better Homes and Gardens."

In the spring of 2010, Better Homes and Gardens magazine introduced the "thrill, fill, and spill" method of creating a container garden in one of their issues. Since then, the design has been the mainstay of container gardens everywhere.

At homes, squares, and malls, you are likely to see container gardens on every corner. Think about the container gardens you see all around the neighborhoods and towns. You will see that the design for these container gardens fit the thrill, fill, and spill bill.

This article will explain how the method works and provide plenty of information and suggestions for how you can use it to create your own wonderful container gardens.

Steps to Create a Thrill, Fill, and Spill Container Garden

The thrill, spill, and thrill container garden method creates an aesthetically visual effect. The design’s roots may lie in a sort of structure popular in the thrill, fill, and fill floral design.

The first step is obvious. Choose plants that will have the same growing needs in the way of light, water, and fertilization. Pick something for the thrill, the fill, and the spill.

Pick something stunning, some floral “eye candy” so to speak, to be your focal point. Cone-shaped evergreens and climbers such as clematis are good choices.

How to Choose What to Plant

After the eye candy or focal point, concentrate on fill-ins that will complement your choice as the thrill. In this arrangement, Dusty Miller makes a great silvery fill-in that will complement the delicate pink clematis blossom. It grows up to 12 inches tall and gets really bushy. Sometimes two or three different fill plants may be nice, but I think the Dusty Miller will be enough here.

For the spill, choose plants that tend to cascade and spread like vines and groundcovers. For my spill, the little petunia-like blossoms of calibrachoa will grow and cascade down the container. It's sort of romantic, isn’t it?

The charts below give a few ideas for flowering plants to use in container gardening. Choose plants that will need about the same type of care. Have fun and pick what you think would look good together.

Clematis provides the thrill for this container garden.

Clematis provides the thrill for this container garden.

The Thrill

My eye candy, or thrill, is a saucy pink clematis growing up a trellis. This vine plant, with its delicate pink flower, needs full sunlight. It is an easy-to-grow vine plant that loves to climb trellises and posts.

Plants for the Thrill

Plant Maintenance Description

Asiatic Lily

Full sun, at least 6–8 hours

Looks similar to day lilies, grows up to 3′

Caladium

Partial sun, keep soil moist

Colorful foliage, red, green, white variegated leaves, 2 or more ” in diameter, can grow 1′ to 2′ high

Celosia

Full sun, easy to care for

Flame-like spikes of brilliant reds and pinks, grows 6″ to 8″

Hibiscus

Full sun, tolerates wet soil, tropical

Showy pink blooms the size of a baby’s head, grows 4′ to 10′

Mexican Feathergrass

Full sun, water regularly

Beige-colored cascading ornamental grass, grows 1′ to 2′ high

Angelonia

Full sun, hardy in both hot and cold extreme temps, grows 6″ to 10″

Clusters of deep, rose-colored flowers with black throats

Rosemary

Needs 6–8 hours sun, somewhat sandy soil, good drainage

An herbal bush, may rarely have pink or blue flowers, grows 1″ to 6″

Geranium

Full sun, tolerates heat and dryness

Pink or red flower clusters, fuzzy leaves, grows 1′ to 2′ tall

Clematis

Full sun, moist soil, regular feeding, needs something to climb

Bright, gold-colored double carnation-type flowers, grows 6″ to 4′ tall

Climbing plants are good choices for the thrill.

Climbing plants are good choices for the thrill.

The Fill

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) is a silvery, fern-like plant commonly grown in landscaping and container gardens. It too requires full sunlight. It's easy to grow and very hardy. It bushes out, making it great for the fill of this container garden.

Plants for the Fill

Aster

Full to partial sun, loamy soil, keep moist

Pink, white, purple, red, daisy-like flowers, grows 8″ to 8′ depending on variety

Dusty Miller

6 or more hours of full sun, water once weekly, fertilizer every 2 weeks

Silvery, fern-like plant, grows 8″ to 12″ tall

Marigold

Full sun, easy to grow

Bright, gold-colored double carnation-type flowers, grows 6″ to 4′ tall

Petunia

Full sun, but some shade when very hot

Morning glory-like pink, white, red, or purple blooms, grows 6″ to 4′ tall

Star zinnia

Full sun, loamy, well-drained soil

White, yellow, orange, daisy-like flowers, grows 1′ tall

Coleus

Shade to full sun, depending on variety

Very colorful leaves, many varieties grow 1′ to 6′

Impatiens

Shade plants, keep moist, doesn’t tolerate heat well

Small, colorful red, pink, white, orange flowers, grows 6″ to 8″ tall

Splash

Prefers indirect sunlight, misting

Pink, purple, or creamy splashes of color, grows 12″ tall

Dusty Miller is the fill for this container garden.

Dusty Miller is the fill for this container garden.

The Spill

Calibrachoa is the perfect spill for my container garden. These tiny, petunia-like flowers grow quickly when fertilized and will cascade over the planter in an enchanting way.

Plants for the Spill

PlantMaintenanceDescription

Creeping Fig

Full to partial sun, needs minimum watering

Green leafy vine, grows 25' to 30' long

Needlepoint Ivy

Full sun, tolerates some shade, loamy, moist soil

Ivy vine; pointy leaves, grows 6″ high then spreads

Lobelia

Easy to grow, prefers full sun, moist soil

Usually blue flowers, some pink, white, or red, compact in height, cascades

Trailing Geranium

Full to partial sun, don’t over-water

Pink, white, red blooms, grows up to 2′ long

Vinca Minor

Full to partial sun, don’t over-water

Blue or lavender small blooms, spreads out 1.5'

Purple Jew

Very hardy, full to partial sun

Purplish leaves with occasional 3-petaled pink flower, spreads to 2′ long

Swedish Ivy

Full to partial sun, keep moist but not soggy

Vine; scalloped, veined leaves, occasional small, white bloom, grows to 3′

Sweet Alyssum

Full to partial sun, moist soil

White, pale pink, lavender blooms, hairy gray-green leaves, low in height, cascades down

Moss Rose

Full sun, sandy soil, good drainage

Succulent plant with tiny flowers in variety of colors, grows 3-8″ tall and 1′ wide

Sweet Potato Vine

Full to partial sun, moderate watering

Light green vine, grows out up to 6′

Calibrachoa

Full sun, ample water and fertilizer

Tiny, petunia-like flowers in deep red, coral, purple, cream, grows 5″ to 10″ tall and 12″ wide

Calibrachoa will cascade as it grows and provide the spill.

Calibrachoa will cascade as it grows and provide the spill.

Other Thrill, Fill, and Spill Container Gardens

Thrill, fill, and spill container gardens don’t have to be limited to flowering plants only. Flowers and veggies alike can come together in an awesome thrill, fill, and spill container garden design. Tomato and pepper plants are often used as the thrill while a mixture of herbs and flowers provides the fill. Sweet potato vine is perfect for the spill.

Look for It All Around the Town

Growing flowers with the thrill, spill, and fill method is widely used. Stroll around the square with me and get inspired to make a container garden. These are all freshly planted and will grow and fill out over the summer. I'll be checking back to see their growth.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 28, 2020:

I like your container gardening ideas and suggestions. I have great interest in gardening, and would follow your detailed information. I wasn’t aware of this gardening method. Thrill, spill and fill container gardening sounds interesting.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on June 02, 2020:

I love this thrill, spill and fill container gardening article. You have chosen those beautiful plants. Thanks for sharing. Well done.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 01, 2020:

Oh, thanks! Glad you liked it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 31, 2020:

You have some beautiful examples and detail exactly how to achieve the effect. The tables are also very helpful. Very nicely done!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 26, 2020:

Thank you Rajan!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 26, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy! I'll bet yours pretty.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 26, 2020:

Glad to hear that! Thanks, Genna!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 26, 2020:

Thanks, Beth! Happy gardening!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 26, 2020:

This is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing details on which plants would do best for each type of gardening. Lovely photos.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2020:

Containers filled with these types of plants are so much fun to see in commercial as well as home gardens. I have a couple of them on our patio. Thanks for suggesting all of the plants that can be a part of these thrill, spill, and fill containers.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on May 24, 2020:

Rebecca, you have no idea how much I loved this hub. I am a container gal...Spill, Thrill and Fill is so appropriate. I have made mistakes with my container growing, which is why I find this hub so helpful. Thank you!

Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 24, 2020:

Lovely plants! I have a couple of these containers and enjoy them very much.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 23, 2020:

Thanks, Linda. I hope the ideas were useful, and thanks for commenting.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 23, 2020:

Hi Pam. Living in Florida, you have so many options for container gardening. All year! Thanks for commenting.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on May 23, 2020:

Rebecca, these are gorgeous full plants and flowers in large containers. The lists are my favorite choices. They are colorful summer container gardens that fill and spill over the edge.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 23, 2020:

Containers filled with beautiful flowers are lovely to see. I like your article and I think this is a great way to get your flowers at least started or to keep them in a container in warm weather.