A vibrant container display can bring instant colour and impact to your garden. But it can be hard to know which plants will work well together. To help you create gorgeous pots every time, we’ve created a recipe for success, it’s called ‘thriller, filler, spiller’.

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By following this formula, you can be sure you have all the elements to create a beautiful pot, and you can mix and match to suit your taste and the plants you can find. Each month, we’ll bring you a selection of the best plants to grow in pots, using this formula. Simply choose at least one plant from each section, opting for complementary or contrasting colours, for show-stopping pots guaranteed.

More container planting ideas

Follow our formula for creating gorgeous containers, that look their best in August.


Thrillers

This is your star plant, so you’re looking for something that will give your pot colour and impact. Choose something that instantly catches your eye, as it’ll set the tone for your whole container display.


Thriller: Centranthus ruber

Centranthus ruber
Centranthus ruber

Centranthus ruber will create a great focal point in your container, with grey, green leaves and crimson, pink or white flowers from late spring through to autumn. It's really easy to grow and is also a magnet for pollinators.

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Thriller: Eryngium variifolium

Eryngium varifolium
Eryngium variifolium

For a bold statement in your pot, choose Eryngium variifolium, this compact sea holly produces small spiky flowers on sturdy, upright stems from July to September. As well as being a great addition to your container, the flower-heads last well when cut and they can also be dried.


Thriller: Dahlia 'Franz Kafka'

Dahlia 'Franz Kafka'
Dahlia 'Franz Kafka'

Dahlia 'Franz Kafka' bears bright pink pompon flowers that are no more than 5cm in diameter. These intricate blooms will make a subtle statement in your pot, with flowers from midsummer to late-Autumn. They also make great cut flowers.


Thriller: Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'

Rosa 'Getrude Jekyll'
Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'

If you're looking for repeat flowering and fragrance throughout the summer, then look no further than Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'. This hardy English shrub rose produces large, cup-shaped blooms and will make a real impact in your pot.


Fillers

This is likely to be a less showy plant than your thriller, but makes the whole display look fuller and more interesting. For a harmonious display, choose a plant in the same or a similar colour to your thriller, or for a bolder look opt for a contrasting colour.


Filler: Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca
Festuca glauca

The cool blue-grey foliage of Festuca glauca is ideal as a backdrop to brighter coloured thriller plants, reds and oranges will work particularly well. The foliage forms dense, upright tussocks and in the summer, steel blue flower-heads appear.


Filler: Hordeum jubatum

Hordeum jubatum
Hordeum jubatum

Another great choice of grass to fill your container is Hordeum jubatum, also known as foxtail barley. It is usually grown as an annual or short-lived perennial. In summer and early autumn it will produce feathery, pale pink flowers. Hordeum jubatum is a great choice if you live near the sea, as it can tolerate saline conditions.


Filler: Viola cornuta 'Victoria's Blush'

Viola cornuta
Viola cornuta 'Victoria's Blush'

Violas are closely related to pansies, but have much smaller flowers and are more tolerant of summer heat. Viola cornuta 'Victoria's Blush' makes a great ground-cover plant and is very well suited to growing in containers. Deadhead often to prolong flowering.


Filler: Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve'

Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve'
Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve'

Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' could be used as a thriller plant, with its bountiful mauve flowers on tall spikes. But it also works well as a filler, with its mass of dark green foliage. It is a short-lived perennial but can be replaced with young plants raised from cuttings.


Spillers

These plants spill over the edges of the pot, giving the display a softer, more natural look and ensuring there’s no bare compost on show. They’re also useful for filling in any gaps.


Spiller: Lotus 'Fire Vine'

Lotus 'Fire Vine'
Lotus 'Fire Vine'

Lotus 'Fire Vine' makes a spectacular addition to any container, with exotic orange and red flowers against blue-grey foliage. It works particularly well when planted with Festuca glauca. Lotus 'Fire Vine' will make make an impact as it tumbles over the sides of your pot.


Spiller: Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa 'Can-Can Coral Reef'
Calibrachoa 'Can-Can Coral Reef'

Calibrachoa are a great choice for a hanging basket or container. They will spill over the sides of pots and flower for weeks in the summer and into autumn. The flowers are attractive to moths.


Spiller: White bacopa

White bacopa
White bacopa

White bacopa bears delicate white flowers and small green leaves, which will cascade over the side of your pot in abundance. It will flower from June to October. Deadhead wilted flowers.


Spiller: Sanvitalia procumbens

Sanvitalia procumbens
Sanvitalia procumbens

Sanvitalia procumbens, also known as creeping zinnia, makes a great choice for hanging baskets or containers. It will produce small, bright yellow flowers all summer.


Next month: Recipe for beautiful September pots

Exclusively for subscribers, we’ll bring you the best plants to create containers that look gorgeous in September, using our ‘Thriller, Filler, Spiller’ formula.

And using the same formula, find our pick of the best plants for:

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Beautiful July pots
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