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Ten Tips for Creating a Colorful Spring Container

It’s finally time to start adding some color to your containers! You can design your own containers that are full of the colors of Spring and beautifully Easter-ready! Whether you have large containers on your patio or are looking to fill a smaller hanging basket or window box, read on for 10 practical tips and design ideas to give your containers the most impact.

Tip #1- Layer for Impact.

When thinking about building out your container, consider creating a beautifully dramatic, textured look by incorporating three layers- a thriller, a filler, and a spiller.

The thriller is just what it sounds like- a taller plant that is the focus of the container, drawing the most attention. The thriller can either be centered or asymmetrically placed toward one side of the container. Thrillers are usually over six to eight inches high in order to visually set themselves apart from the other components of the container. Occasionally they’ll reach several feet high, as in the case of using stems or an evergreen like boxwood.

The filler is a mounding plant, whether an annual or perennial, that adds color and texture. It surrounds the thriller and works as a layer of middle-sized height. Some commonly used fillers like pansies and violas are lower growing, so in order to balance their low height, use a wider bowl as your container, or just choose a thriller that isn’t too tall. It’s all about balance.

Lastly the spiller is a trailing plant that can easily flow over the edge of the container and draw the eye downward. Herbs, vines, or other trailing plants work wonderfully as spillers!

Tip #2- Select plants with similar sun or shade requirements.

How do you go about choosing your thrillers, fillers, and spillers? First think about where your containers will be in your landscape. Will they be in a shady place by the front door? In full sun near the driveway? Or in a hanging basket under the porch? The location of your container will determine if you can select plants for full sun, part shade, or full shade. All of the plants in the container need to have the same exposure requirement in order for your container to stay thriving as long as possible!

For this time of year, the plants you choose must be able to withstand any last cold snaps that Missouri weather might throw your way. Even though plants in containers fare better at this time of the year than they would in the ground, it’s still best to choose plants that you can be confident will withstand the cold and still give you the beautiful spring color you’re looking for!

Here’s a list of some of our favorite early-spring thrillers, fillers, and spillers that can easily withstand any cold snaps. (You can keep many of these in mind for your fall containers, too!)


  • Spike

  • Stems

  • Boxwood

  • Perennial Ornamental Grass


  • Most Spring annuals: Pansies, Violas, Dianthus, Lobelia

  • Spring Bulbs: Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils

  • Perennials: Hostas, Sedum


  • Alyssum

  • Creeping Jenny

  • Trailing Thyme or another cascading herb

We have several more plants available for each of these categories, but these are just some to get you started! If you’re unfamiliar with any of these plants or are very new to container design, we’d love to help you pick the perfect plant combination when you stop by! Let us know the size of your container and location, and we’d be glad to help you find a beautiful arrangement to suit your landscape and style!

Tip #3- Texture is key.

If you want your container to look as full and lush as possible, combine several different textures! Herbs and lettuces especially offer wonderful texture variance! Pair a rough or velvety herb like sage or lavender with soft, colorful pansies and snapdragons to add variety of texture. In addition to herbs or veggies, consider adding plants that have a variegated leaf or a bolder flower face to add impact! Coral Bells are one of our favorite perennials to add for texture, and they also offer a beautiful pop of color!

Tip #4- Surprise with fragrance.

Many veggies, herbs, and flowers add more than just texture- they can have a refreshing fragrance for those who pass by! We suggest combining herbs, pansies, alyssum, violas, and stock as a wonderfully fragrant combo!

Tip #5- A hole for drainage is a MUST.

If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, your plants could get washed out with the first large rainfall. Recovery from root rot is rare, so plan ahead for proper drainage. If your pot doesn’t already have a hole, drill in 2-inch intervals on the bottom of the container. Better yet, if you have a hot awl available, make a sizeable hole right in the middle of the bottom of your container. This will allow rainwater to drain out quickly.

Tip #6- Prioritize soil health for happy plants.

When creating a container, you’re creating a new ecosystem for every plant you put in your container. Whereas in-ground plants have access to far-reaching resources from the soil and perhaps years of compost and other plants being near, containers don’t have any of that outside support. You should choose soil that will provide proper drainage as well as nutrients for your plants.

At Garden Heights, we sell soil especially for containers. Our favorite nutrient-rich soil is Happy Frog. We’ve been suggesting it for years with great success!

We also have a number of fertilizers that will promote soil health when you first plant and when you change out your plants throughout the season.

If your containers are very large, we suggest filling them in the place in your landscape that will be their final destination, as large containers can grow very heavy with soil and watering.

Tip #7- Plant at the proper depth to reduce neck rot.

Plants should be planted no deeper than they were in the original container, and no leaves should be buried below the surface. This prevents a soil line disease called neck rot, where the stems of plants are suffocated by soil or overly saturated with water.

Tip #8- Water immediately after planting.

To help plants acclimate to their new environment, water immediately and deeply after planting your container. Lightly wetting the soil will not allow the water to reach the roots. Use a slow, continuous stream of water until all of the potting soil is very moist. Some potting soils are dryer than others, so you may need to water multiple times in this way to make sure the soil is wet enough for the plants to take root.

Tip #9- Swap out seasonally.

The plants that loved the early-spring cold snaps won’t make it through the summer heat. Plan to swap out as temperatures change and to keep your containers fresh! We’re always here to help when it comes to selecting the right plants for the season for your containers.

Tip #10- Pick a theme to take it to the next level.

We love seeing how people get creative with containers throughout the growing season! Choose accessories like ribbons, small statues, or decorative stakes that accentuate an upcoming holiday. In preparation for Easter, you could complement your container with green moss, bright yellow or brown stems, and pastel-colored accessories. Our store has an abundance of accessories like eggs, bunnies, and faux carrots just in time for Easter!

Additional ideas for a theme might be to make a container full of plants that attract a certain type of pollinator, or choosing a single color of flower to create a more consistent look!

If you’d prefer pre-made containers rather than making one yourself, we currently have pre-made moss baskets that are beautifully Easter-ready!

Stop by today and we’d love to help you find the perfect components to design a container for your patio or landscape! Happy Spring!


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