Saturday, May 4, 2013

Beyond That Greenhouse Hanging Basket

2010 Olbrich Gardens Hanging Basket
What makes this basket goes beyond the concept of "thriller, spiller, filler" touted so often by designers.

First, this basket is large, at least 14". This was a "whole basket" planting, meaning  slit were cut in the moss basket liner to plant additional plant.  To help retain moisture, the woven basket most likely has 10" circle of plastic lining the very bottom and the soil mix has either perlite or vermiculite included to retain moisture for the plants.

When choosing plants, the gardener did not limit the choice to annuals, but included a summer bulb and a perennial, and a temperperennial begonia with a dark purpley-red under leaf.  The filler/spillers chosen were chosen for their colorful foliage.  For this particular basket, a dark, thin leafed sweet potato and sweet potato "Margarita' were both used.  Also, a pink and green caladium bulb and a blue hosta were used.  These more upright and larger-leaved inclusions were planted in the top and center of the` basket, while spillers and fillers were planted toward the outside and down the sides in the slits. While a commercial basket this size might include  up to three different type of annual plugs with 3-5 of the flowering filler, 1-3 of the spiller and 1 plug of the thriller; this basket often uses a single plant.  I think eight different plant were used for a total of nine or ten plugs in all.  I think three of the petunia were used.  This petunia  with a lime green picotee edge and a dark eye zone is where the color theme for this basket comes from; lime green, pink, dark purple.  


  1. I've wondered if thriller, spiller, filler is really the definitive formula for all containers. I think you can have an effective container with just two plants, say Pentas and Calibrachoa or sweet potato vine. Many plants can do double duty as thrillers/fillers or fillers/spillers and there's something to be said for massing even in a container.

  2. I don't think thriller, spiller, filler is really the definitive formula for all containers. Actually, I think it pretty mindless! You need to watch upright height obviously, and massing out a sole plant can be great or just combining two-- dragon wing begonia and diamond frost euphobia for example. Light and water requirement need to be similar. It is also nice if their growth rates are even.