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’.
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.
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- What to plant in December
Follow our formula for creating gorgeous containers, that look at their best in December.
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: Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana
Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana is a compact, evergreen shrub that will give your pot a boost with its vibrant red berries which last into the spring. The dark green leaves complement the striking red of the berries. Pair with red cyclamen for an eye-catching winter display.
Thriller: Winter heather
For a splash of colour, look no further than winter-flowering heathers. There are many heathers to choose from, and with their evergreen foliage, they make the ideal choice for your winter pot.
Thriller: Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'
The leaves are the star of the show on Euphorbia x martini 'Ascot Rainbow', with green foliage that takes on a pink hue in colder weather. Its height and variegated foliage will make a statement in your December pot.
Thriller: Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'
Dogwoods are one of the best plants for providing winter colour with their vibrant stems. Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' has bright red stems, which work well when paired with evergreen foliage.
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.
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Filler: Ajuga reptans
Ajuga reptans will form a low carpet of evergreen, near-black leaves, making it a great choice to fill your pots in December. The dark foliage acts as a stunning backdrop for winter flowers in your containers.
Filler: White ornamental kale
For a snowy addition to your pot, try adding white ornamental kale. Although ornamental kale is edible, it is quite bitter and is best used decoratively in your winter pots.
Filler: Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium (or holly) will be used in wreaths and decorations throughout the festive season, but it also works well in a festive pot. The berries not only add a burst of colour, they also provide a valuable food source for wildlife.
Filler: Heuchera 'Fire Chief'
Heuchera work really well as fillers in your pots, they grow naturally in dense clumps and have brightly coloured foliage. The large, wine-red leaves of Heuchera 'Fire Chief' will be effective in a December pot.
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: Variegated ivy
Many varieties of English ivy have variegated leaves, which means the leaves have more than one colour, adding extra interest to this useful plant. Young plants will make a great addition to your winter pots, spilling over the edges to great effect.
Spiller: Gaultheria procumbens
With vibrant red berries and dark green, red-tinted foliage, Gaultheria procumbens is a great choice for a December pot. It will form a carpet of foliage but will also work well as an edging plant, or for spilling over the sides of a container.
Spiller: Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’
With its silvery-white foliage, Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’ will be effective spilling over the sides of your winter pots, especially when paired with evergreen foliage or winter flowers. It will need protection from frosts.
Spiller: Uncinia rubra
This evergreen sedge provides year-round interest, but the wispy red leaves are particularly useful for spilling over the sides of your winter container. Sedge can be split easily, so don't be afraid to pull it apart to create new plants.
Next month: Recipe for beautiful January pots
Exclusively for subscribers, we’ll bring you the best plants to create containers that look gorgeous in January, using our ‘Thriller, Filler, Spiller’ formula.
And using the same formula, find our pick of the best plants for: