Ideas For Thrill Fill Spill Container Gardens

Thrill, Fill, Spill

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, malls and all around the town, you are likely to see thrill, fill and spill 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.

Spill, fill and thrill 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 spill. Sweet potato vine is perfect for the spill.

What is Thrill, Spill, and Fill


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 thrill,fill,spill 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.

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.

The Fill



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





How to Design a Thrill, Spill, Fill Container Garden

After the “eye candy” or focal point, concentrate on fill-ins that will compliment your choice as the “thrill.” In this arrangement,dusty miller makes a great silvery fill-in that will compliment 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 ground covers. For my “spill”, the little “petunia like” blossoms of calibrachoa will grow and cascade down the container. It is sort of romantic, isn’t it?

Choosing Plants for Thrill, Spill, Fill Container Gardens

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.

Another good way to choose your plants is by browsing around a local nursery or gardening center. They usually have little plastic stakes stuck in them giving growing requirements as well as the size they will grow to. It’s always better to purchase plants locally. These nurseries and garden centers only sell plants that will do well in your particular growing zone.

Think about how the flower shapes and colors will go together. Think about how the leaves and vines will look with the flowers you choose. This is what garden design is all about.

Thrill Plants
Asiatic Lily
Full sun, at least 6-8 hours
Looks similar to day lilies, Grows up to 3′
Full sun, easy to care for
Flame-like spikes of brilliant reds and pinks, grows 6″to 8″
Full sun, tolerates wet soil, tropical
Showy pink blooms the size of a baby’s head, grow 4′ to 10′
Mexican Feathergrass
Full sun, water regularly
beige-colored cascading ornamental grass, grows 1′ to 2′ hihg
Full sun, hardy in both hot and cold extreme temps
Clusters of deep rose-colored flowers with black throats, grows 6″ to !0″.
Needs 6-8 hours sun, somewhat sandy soil, good drainage
An herbal bush , may rarely have pink or blue flowers, grows 1″-6″
Partial sun, keep soil moist
colorful foliage, red, green, white variegated leaves , 2 or more ” in diameter, can grow 1′ to 2′ high
Full sun, tolerates heat and dryness
pink or red flower clusters, fuzzy leaves, grows 1′ to 2′ tall
Full sun, moist soil, regular feeding, needs something to climm
climbing vine, large showy blooms, pinks and purples, can grow up to 12′ tall or more
Fill Plants
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
full sun, easy to grow
bright gold-colored double carnation-type flowers, grows 6″ to 4′ tall
full sun, but some shade when very hot
morning glory-like pink, white,red or purple blooms, grows 6″ to 4′ tall
Star zennia
full sun, loamy well-drained soil
white, yellow, orange daisy-like flowers, grows 1′ tall
shade to full sun, depending on variety
very colorful leaves, many varietes grows 1′ to 6′
shade plants, keep moist, doesn’t tolerate heat well
small colorful red, pink, white, orange flowers, grows 6″ to 8″ tall
prefer indirect sunlight, misting
pink, purple or creamy splashes of color, grows 12″ tall
Lemon Balm
sun to partial shade, moist soil
herb; oval, scalloped leaves, light blue or white flowers in summer, grows to 2′ tall
Spill Plants
Creeping fig
full to partial sun, needs minimum watering
green leafy vine, grows 25 to 30 ‘ long
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 not soggy
vine; scalloped,veined leaves, occasional small, white bloom, grows to 3′
Needlepoint ivy
full sun, tolerates some shade, loamy, moist soil
ivy vine; pointy leaves, grow 6″ high then spreads
easy to grow, prefers full sun, moist soil
usually blue flowers, some pink, white or red, compact in height, cascades
Sweet alyssum
full to partial sun, moist soil
white, pale pink, lavender blooms, hairy gray-green leaves, low in height, cascades down
Sweet potato vine
full to partial sun, moderate watering
light green vine, grows out up to 6′
Moss rose
full sun, sandy soil,good drainage
succulent plant with tiny flowers in variety of colors, grows 3-8″ tall and 1′ wide
full sun, ample water and fertilizer
tiny petunia-like flowers in deep red, coral, purple, cream, grows 5″ to 10″ tall and 12″ wide

Thrill, Fill, Spill all Around the Square

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 will be checking back to see their growth.



So, remember, thrill, fill, spill. I hope this stroll around the square has inspired you to create a thrill, spill, fill container garden.

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