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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The thriller, the filler, & the spiller!

We visited grammy and grampy, my husbands parents, over fathersday weekend. My mother in law, Nancy,  has always had planters sprinkled all over her property, and I have always secretly coveted the craft to container garden like her. Don't tell her...for I shall delete the prrof and never admit to the envy! I'm just no good at keeping things alive in planters!

I learned a few tricks from her, and I couldn't wait to test out her method on my naked planters that live on my front porch for the spiders to make their homes upon.

I must admit that I'm still no completely sold that I will not kill these things, kind of like when Marie leaves out or swuitches up a secret ingredient to a recipe on Everybody love Raymond, and Debra can never seem to duplicate her recipe. We'll see...may have to do a follow up blog to show how they thrive...or die.

This is what I've been staring at for over a year now. :(

So, she tells me that the secret to full, voluptuous (is it okay to refer to plantlife as voluptuous? IDK, sounds good to me) is to use the thriller, the filler, and the spiller.

She said your thriller should be the center focal point to the planter. It should be a tall plant, grass, etc.
I decided to use some spike grass for my "thriller".

Next you need some filler. A plant with nice color, and one that stays small/short but spreads wide is best. I used some Laguna sky blue and wedding white for the "filler".

Lastly you need some spiller to cascade out of the planter. She suggested some ivy, or other vining type plant. I used 3 vinca vines for the "spiller".

The spillers, and thrillers were $1 per pot at my local super store garden center. The fillers were $3.50 per pot. The cost per planter was about $13.50 with expensive dirt included. The store sold simlar sized planters for $30 each, and their planters are not as pretty as mine. Just sayin'.

I started by dumping out last years potting soil. A great gardener told me that reusing potting soil was a bad idea unless you can sterilize it...and I don't know nuttin' about all of that! I used the old soil to fill in holes the dogs had dug around the property. *sigh*

I dumped about a quart of rocks in the planter for good drainage, and this saved me on cost by using old rocks we had from an old pond we had recently dug out.

I topped the rocks with Miracle Grow Moisture control potting mix. I admit that my lack of success in container gardening i the past has likely been a lack of watering, and the nice lady on the commercial seemed to have fallen the same fate as I before she tried this dirt, so I'm going to try it out this year. It was $5 a bag, and 1 bag filled 2 planters. Not too terribly bad...I still hate the paying for dirt thing. What a racket!

Don't fill the planter all the way to the rim. Leave it to the level of the base of your plants roots. You can fill in around them with a hand shovel, and why fill the planter and turn around and have to dig out the holes for the plants, right?

I placed the thriller in the center.

I ended up moving it back a few inches because of how the planters sit on my porch and how much of the back would be seen. None.

Next I placed the fillers. I'm told this stuff will fill in around the thriller. We'll see. I'm excited to see how this works out!

Lastly I added in the spillers, and back filled the holes surrounding all plants with the MG Moisture soild stuff.

I think they look nice. I''m hoping they survive me, and thrive! If this doesn't work I am going to assume that planters just aren't my thing and fill them with tacky plastic grasses. Ha ha!

Have fun in your garden, no matter the size. I've always said gardening is my therapy. It's rewarding to watch things grow, and to learn how to make them grow better over time.

Here's to me being a container gardener. If you see my porch urns oncraigslist next'll know why! ;D


  1. I did something similar- by accident- with my strawberry pot. The top section is gerbera daisies- which takes care of both thriller and filler. The strawberries come out the side pockets as the spiller.


  2. Oh Liz, that is an excellent idea! I scored lots of clearance plants today at Kroger and Wal-mart. I've been having fun in the dirt off and on all day! I have strawberry starts to plant (from MIL). I'm out of beds to plant. Maybe I'll try a container too!