We discussed spillers in March and fillers in April and the final article on how to build a great looking container is on the “thrillers”. Thrillers are the “drama queens” of a container. They are plants with height and they beg to be the center of attention. They add not only alluring color with their blooms but can also add a textural contrast with their leaves. That’s right, thrillers can not only be flowers but foliage plants or even ornamental grasses as well.

These plants are placed either in the center of the container if they will be visible from all sides or in the back of the pot if the container is going to be up against a wall and visible from only one direction. There are of course a multitude of potential candidates for you to choose from but these are 5 of our favorites:

Cannas-The canna is a bulb/tuber that is native to Asia. It is a tropical plant that is sensitive to cold so it needs to be planted when all danger of frost has past. The Tropicanna series of this plant are particularly well suited for containers. The blooms are beautiful and while you wait for them the striped leaves are equally as attractive.

Purple Fountain Grass-This is an ornamental grass that grows 2 to 3 feet tall. Its leaves have a maroon to burgundy color and later in the season they are joined by soft, fuzzy plumes with a similar hue that wave in the summer breeze. It is easy to grow and drought-tolerant. The only drawback is that unless you live in really warm garden zones such as 9 or higher you have to treat it like as an annual. It is so beautiful though that this seems like a small price to pay. Here’s a hint; if you can find this plant in 6” or 8” pots you can take a sharp knife and divide the grass into 3 or 4 clumps. You now have 3 or 4 plants from 1 purchase!

Elephant Ears-Talk about a drama queen! As the name implies the leaves on this bulb are big and there is no way that you can’t be drawn to them. However, it isn’t just their size that grabs your attention. Mayan Mask has a green leaf with a white vein running through it and Diamond Head has a purplish, black leaf. Even without the size of these leaves you wouldn’t miss these plants! Elephant Ears do require moist soil so you’ll need to make sure you keep the container watered.

Coleus-This is another plant whose foliage is its claim to fame. Most varieties do get a small stem of purple flowers but they are so uninspiring that I usually just remove them. The last several years has seen the introduction of some really stunning color combinations of this plant and whether your container is going to be in sun or shade there is a coleus for your container. Coleus is not fussy but it will need to be watered regularly during hot, dry spells and you shouldn’t fertilize it more than once a month or the colors will actually fade a little.

Dahlia-While the first thought might go to 5-foot plants with flowers as big as a dinner plate the Dark Angel series of dahlias are ideal container plants. Dracula and Star Wars are two such varieties that will bloom all summer long and they both have pretty burgundy foliage to go along with their eye-catching blooms.

The Thriller, Filler, Spiller concept is designed to help you create upscale looking containers. Please share your beautiful containers on our Facebook page so we can all celebrate and enjoy your accomplishment!

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