Gardening 101: Container gardening – thriller, filler, and spiller

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM)  Not everyone has a backyard. The DFW Metroplex has one of the highest rates of property rentals in the entire county among households (this does include home rentals, but the bulk of this is apartment rentals).

For those who would like to exercise their green thumb and, hopefully, have at least a porch or patio, container gardening is about their only option other than a fine display of indoor plants.

I traveled to Calloway’s Nursery on Hulen St. in Fort Worth to pay a visit with Jennifer Hatalski, the marketing director for the company. She is a firm champion of the container gardening culture and is an absolute fountain of ideas. 

The best advice I took away from our talk? Thriller, filler, spiller.

The “thriller” is the star of the show, usually a flowering plant that is both tall and bright. If you are using a perennial for this task and have a backyard, think of this as a “trial garden” where you can grow your thriller out some before you replant it outdoors when you change over your container to another seasonal theme. 

The “filler” is meant to compliment the main plant. What Jennifer means by that is it either displays a contrasting or complimentary color or offers up a leaf structure that contrasts with the show plant. 

It is difficult to be too busy with your design since the space is so limited. In our example, Jennifer used two different filler plants – peppers and pansies – to offer a slew of color and texture differences.

The “spiller” is a plant that can grow down over the lip of your container. This fills out the space a little more, bringing more plant volume into the limited space.

Themes for container plantings can revolve around the seasons or their purposes, like an herb garden for example. 

And since the space is small, you usually don’t end up spending a lot of money getting your container filled up. They are only limited by what grows here and your imagination.

Jennifer inspired me to utilize a container I have sitting out back unused. I’m going to do a fall planting with some cold season plants and put it by the front door. 

Green is good and using containers is an easy way to spread it around the best you can.

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