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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Follow our formula for creating gorgeous containers, that look their best in October.
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.
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Thriller: Japanese anemones
For a spectacle in your October pot, look no further than Japanese anemones. They produce white or pink flowers that shoot up above attractive foliage, and will grow well in containers. Anemone hupehensis ‘Splendens’ will flower into October, adding a welcome splash of bright pink flowers, while Anemone 'Wild Swan' will flower right through until November.
Thriller: Pyracantha 'Soleil d'Or'
Pyracantha 'Soleil d'Or' makes a striking addition to your autumnal pot, with large clusters of bright yellow berries. Pyracantha is tolerant of a wide range of conditions. You can also cut the berries for use in festive wreaths later in the year.
Alstroemeria is a hardy perennial and, with vividly coloured blooms, it's a great addition to your October container. It will flower into mid-autumn. It is hardy and easy to grow, plus the flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.
Thriller: Skimmia japonica 'Rubella'
Although Skimmia japonica 'Rubella' won't flower until spring, dark red flower buds form in the autumn and remain in place throughout the winter. This additional interest makes it a great thriller option for an autumnal pot.
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.
Cyclamen are an excellent choice for an autumn pot, their foliage works really well as a filler and provides colour when there's not much else flowering in the garden. In the right conditions they will flower throughout autumn and winter.
Filler: Hylotelephium cauticola
Hylotelephium cauticola will make a striking addition in your October container. In late summer and autumn it produces flat, deep-pink flower heads on sprawling stems, which will work well as a filler. The flowers are attractive to late-flying butterflies and bees.
Filler: Calocephalus brownii
Also known as cushion bush, Calocephalus brownii is a great filler option for your pot. It provides interest throughout the autumn and winter with its silvery foliage, but must be kept frost-free.
Filler: Heuchera 'Sugar Plum'
Heuchera 'Sugar Plum' has spectacular veined foliage, and works well as a filler. Its foliage appears to have a layer of frost, with its silvery sheen, and the muted tones will complement any October colour in your container.
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: Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ bears striking purple-green leaves that will turn jet black when grown in full sun and well-drained soil. It can get lost in a border as it is quite small, but works particularly well in a container. Its foliage will spill over the side of your pot to great effect.
Spiller: Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’
Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ is an evergreen sedge that produces striking long golden leaves, with deep green margins. It suits being grown in a container, as a foil for brightly coloured flowers or as a feature in itself. It will spill over the sides of a tub, softening the edges.
Spiller: Hedera helix
English ivy, Hedera helix, is a versatile plant with many uses around the garden. Young plants will work really well in containers, and will spill over the sides. It's also a valuable plant for wildlife, providing a late source of nectar and pollen for insects, and berries for birds in winter.
Spiller: Erigeron karvinskianus
Mexican fleabane, or Erigeron karvinskianus, will look really effective spilling over the side of your container. Its small daisy-like flowers will last for months on end.
Next month: Recipe for beautiful November pots
Exclusively for subscribers, we’ll bring you the best plants to create containers that look gorgeous in October, using our ‘Thriller, Filler, Spiller’ formula.
And using the same formula, find our pick of the best plants for: