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.
More container planting ideas
Follow our formula for creating gorgeous containers, that look at their best in November.
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: Phormium 'Yellow Wave'
The vibrant green/yellow foliage and striking form of Phormium 'Yellow Wave' will make a statement in your pot. It is especially useful in autumn and winter, adding interest to your containers in the quieter months of the gardening year.
Thriller: Winter flowering pansies
For a splash of colour in the autumn and winter months, look no further than the pansy. With regular dead-heading, they will flower throughout the winter in all but the very harshest conditions. They come in a wide range of colours, so choose pansies that will complement the other plants in your pot.
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Thriller: Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'
Add a striking vertical accent t0 your pot with Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra', and enjoy the bold red spikes that fade to bright green at the base. Plant with lower-growing plants in complementary shades to make an impactful container display.
Thriller: Solanum capsicastrum
For an instant shot of colour, Solanum capsicastrum makes an excellent choice. It will produce bright orange berries for weeks on end, however take care as they are poisonous. You might like to pair with orange winter-flowering pansies for a pot bursting with autumn colour.
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: Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood'
This sedum, with its green and wine-red leaves, is an excellent filler choice. Its small-leaved foliage will reach no more than 10cm in height and it's a useful ground-cover choice. The autumnal tones will work really well with bronze grasses and copper-coloured violas.
Filler: Photinia x fraseri 'Little Red Robin'
This compact, evergreen shrub will work well as a filler in your container. With bright red leaves that turn dark green as they age, plant it in a container with other rich autumnal tones for an impactful display.
Heucheras work really well in autumn and winter pot displays, providing interesting foliage in a range of colours. Choose a foliage colour that will complement the other plants in your pot, to achieve your desired effect.
Filler: Asplenium scolopendrium
Hart's tongue fern, or Asplenium scolopendium, grows wild in shaded areas and woodland but it will also grow well in pots. It adds a welcome burst of vibrant green in the cooler months.
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: Carex comans 'Bronze Form'
If you're looking for an autumnal-toned grass, Carex comans 'Bronze Form' makes a great choice. It will grow well in a pot and, as well as providing interest in autumn and winter, it will also look effective with spring bulbs in the new year.
Spiller: Dryopteris erythrosora
For a spiller that could also be a show stopper take a look at Dryopteris erythrosora. The triangular shape of the fronds will contrast well with other plants in your container. The new growth has a copper tint, and as the fronds mature they turn a shade of dark green.
Spiller: Hedera helix ‘Cavendishii’
Hedera helix ‘Cavendishii’ is a slow growing ivy, it has medium sized green leaves with a cream margin. Young plants will spill over the sides of your container to great effect.
Spiller: Hylotelephium cauticola
Hylotelephium cauticola is a versatile sedum that can be grown in a range of locations, and it will make a useful addition to your container, as it spills over the side. It makes a striking feature in late summer and autumn, when masses of deep-pink flowerheads appear, but also provides year-round interest with its blue/green foliage.
Next month: Recipe for beautiful December pots
Exclusively for subscribers, we’ll bring you the best plants to create containers that look gorgeous in December, using our ‘Thriller, Filler, Spiller’ formula.
And using the same formula, find our pick of the best plants for: