porch pot

Break the porch pot planting rules! Here’s what to do instead of ‘thriller, spiller, filler’

Every summer doorstep should be flanked by pretty porch pots.

A pretty flower pot completes your spring and summer porch. While we are familiar with the classic “thriller, spiller, filler” formula, it’s not the only way to fill a planter with pretty blooms.

Horticultural manager at Thanksgiving Point, Jessica Berrett, shared textures and plant combinations that might be different than what you’ve planted before.


Breaking the Mold

The traditional trio of thriller (tall, eye-catching plants), spiller (plants that cascade over the edge), and filler (plants that fill in the space) can be mixed in any number of ways. “There are plenty of designs that have all of one type, or, a lot of one type and just one of another.,” Jessica said.

Choosing the Right Plants

When selecting plants, it’s important to consider their mature size and care requirements. “They’re all going to get bigger, so check the tags. You’re looking for something in the 18 to 24 inch range generally,” Jessica advised.

She likes asparagus fern and dwarf canna. “You’ll want to look for a smaller variety of canna because they can be absolutely gigantic in a yard. The dwarf varieties don’t get as large,” Jessica said.

She also recommended the gaura, a perennial with a tall, airy texture. “If you wanted to move this to your garden later, you could, and it would survive over the winter,” Jessica said. She also likes the butterfly weed, which a tropical plant that is just fun to look at.

Sunlight and Shade

Plant tags are your best friends—Jessica usually follows their guidelines for sun requirements pretty closely. “If you want a basket that is full of flowers, you’re going to need plants that are full sun and you need to give them that full sun,” she emphasized. For shaded areas, focus on plants with interesting leaf textures and colors to create interest without relying on blooms.

Potting Techniques

Jessica said that plants can be placed closer together in pots than you think, “I’ve got these pots pretty much as tight as I can get them because I want them to look pretty full from the get go,” she said.

She pointed out that the trade off, however, is that some plants may outgrow others. “Over time some of them may fade into the background or even disappear altogether, but the others are a little bigger, so the design might shift a little bit,” she emphasized.

Jessica also recommended using six-packs of plants as a cost-effective way to get a full planter without breaking the bank.

Care and Maintenance

Jessica introduced us to E-Z Wet, a product that helps water reach the roots. “You’ll put water on top of the dirt and it will run around the edges and out the bottom, and you’ll think you did a great job watering it. But actually, the middle is still dry,” she described. ” What this product does is it helps the dirt absorb water throughout the whole.”

Jessica advised watering daily and fertilizing once or twice a week. rotating fertilizers to provide a range of nutrients.

Cheater Trick: If planting a full pot is going to be too much, buying a pre-planted hanging basket and transferring it to a pot is a totally viable option.

Find more gardening advice from Jessica on Instagram, @plant.geek.

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