Annual Containers – More than just Annuals

By: A Super Awesome Planted Earth Employee

Vibrant, overflowing containers of flowers can elevate an outdoor space from simply “nice” to amazing! Annual flowers are planted to showcase a rainbow of color from spring through fall. With thousands of varieties to choose from, there is a flower combination that will please an infinite range of tastes and styles.

However, there are some containers that go above and beyond the norm. They raise the bar from amazing to stunning. Oftentimes these stunning containers have more than just annuals. They contain perennials, shrubs, tropical plants and even artificials to enhance the container’s color and texture. The following are some examples of ways to incorporate these less commonly used elements into your containers.

“Winter Container 2008” by daryl mitchell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The center of the annual container is called the “thriller.” The thriller is the tall or full center element that stands out above the rest (literally and figuratively) and is the first thing to catch your eye. In traditional annual pots, the thriller is often a grass or a dracaena spike. However, evergreen shrubs, shrubs with high seasonal interest; seasonal grasses, vines and even twigs and branches can be striking thrillers. Specific examples include forsythia, red- or yellow-twigged dogwood, curly willow, pussy willow, winterberry, and white birch logs.

“An autumn window box, West 9th Street, Greenwich Village, New York City” by Spencer Means is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The “filler” makes up the bulk of the annual planter. Fillers are full, colorful plants that don’t stand out individually, but when combined in a container they provide most of the color in the arrangement. Fillers tend to be annuals, but leafy perennials such as hellebores and heuchera can be used, as well as leafy herbs and vegetables like swiss chard, rumex and lettuce.

Sedum Planter by Renee Godfrey Quillin

The most interesting annual planters have plants overflowing and trailing down the sides of the pot. These trailing plants are called “spillers.” Spillers can be vines, flowers or perennials like sedum or mosses. Spillers can also be herbs like mint or thyme. Spillers make the planters appear to be bursting with interest.

By thinking out of the traditional annual box and utilizing a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and textures via perennials, shrubs, tropical plants and artificials, the possibilities for creativity and amazing results are endless.

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