Favorite Container Combos

A classic thriller, filler, spiller arrangement in a fabulous container.

The traditional advice about ornamental containers is you need a thriller, a filler and a spiller. So you should look for a plant that’s tall — a spiky grass, for instance. Then, combine it with something full — maybe a huechera for shade or a coleus or begonia — and then a spiller, such as creeping jenny, calibrachoa or the very traditional sweet potato vine.

You can make a really striking container combo following this formula, but some times it’s fun to veer off the beaten path and try some other ideas.

How about a single plant in each container arranged creatively? Or a set of succulents side-by-side? Or maybe a container planting in which the container is the star of the show? Here are several containers we’ve seen over the years that show all the different ways you can combine plants and containers in beautifully.

If you have a container you love in your garden (or in your house), how about entering the MSHS Potted Plant Show, which runs the first two days of the Minnesota State Fair. It’s a great way to show off your containers and see other people’s plant creations. It’s easy to enter the MSHS Potted Plant Show, and you can find all the instructions on our website. Check it out! We’d love to see your containers!

coleus in metal buckets

Three rustic containers filled with the same variety of coleus. You could not find an easier or prettier combination!

brown container with plants

Here’s another thriller, spiller, filler example. What we like about this one is how the plants match the color of the pot — a rich brown. Cool!

Caladium container combo in metalic container

Go tropical! Caladium is a striking centerpiece of this container combo and the light color contrasts with the dark pot.


succulents in white containers

Three succulents, each in their own simple pot. It’s a soothing combination, perfect for the porch or patio.

face container combo with succulent hair

I’m not always a fan of face containers, but this one is compelling and the succulent hair adds to his charm.

green plants in gray container

One more thriller, spiller and filler. What makes this unique is its varying shades of green. Another great combination for porch or patio.

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