Two planters full of flowers

This Easy Pinterest Formula Makes My Container Gardens Look Perfect Every Time

It’s so easy, even a novice gardener like me can do it. 
Jaime Milan
April 15, 2021
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This is Obsessed: my weekly column devoted to sharing all the things I'm loving right now—from unique food and gift ideas to travel destinations and beauty products—plus some tips and tricks for living your best life.

When I was a kid, I checked out the same gardening book from the library every single week. (I got so obsessed with plants that I'd tell people about my favorite flower: a spooned osteospermum. How I had friends is truly beyond me.) All of that to say, I've always loved flowers and knew that when I had my own home I'd plant them everywhere. But as it turns out, gardening is a pretty intense hobby and flowers can require a lot of TLC and patience (which I sorely lack). So I tend to plant low-maintenance perennials in the yard and stick to planters for adding showy blooms and seasonal color.

I've spent a lot more time at home this past year, so I've gotten to nerd out on flowers. Although my favorite flower has since evolved from strangely shaped mums to garden roses, my curiosity about all flowers is in peak swing. I recently went down a Pinterest rabbit hole and found this pin about a foolproof formula to make your potted plant arrangements look perfect. All you have to remember are three rhyming words: thriller, filler and spiller.

"Thriller" can mean a few things, but one thing is for certain: they add major drama. A thriller can be a plant that stands tall (celosia, cordyline, caladium), adds texture (ornamental grasses) or even color (snapdragons or dahlias). If your pot is only going to be viewed from the front, place your thriller in the back. If your pot can be viewed from all sides, place your thriller in the center.

I've started adding flowers to my front porch planter, but I still need to add some thrillers in the back for height and drama.

"Filler" plants are exactly what they sound like—they help fill the space in your container, and are typically rounded or full in shape. They're generally placed in front of or around your thriller plants. Some of my favorite fillers are petunias, calibrachoas, lantana and coleus.

Lastly, you'll add your "spillers" closest to the sides of the pot since they're meant to spill over the sides. My favorite spillers are creeping Jenny and sweet potato vine because they spread quickly and are a beautiful lime green color.

I'm by no means a gardening pro, but this formula has helped me create statement planters on my front porch without spending a lot of time or money. Each season I have so much fun picking out new thrillers, fillers and spillers to add some color to my home. I hope you'll try it out for yourself! (Not into gardening? You could always order this kit that's delivered right to your door and includes a gorgeous combo of thrillers, fillers and spillers!)

Jaime Milan is EatingWell's digital editor for all things newsy and trending. She's always on the hunt for the latest and greatest things to share with EatingWell's readers. In her spare time, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen, tackling home projects with her husband or taking pics of her very photogenic American Eskimo Dog, Grits. Follow her on Instagram at @jaimemmilan