One of the best pot planting tricks is the ‘thriller, filler, spiller’ concept. “This works on the principle of the ‘thriller’ being the feature plant – a plant that is big, bold, textural or unique,” says Lyndall Keating, landscape designer, horticulturist and director of Garden Society. “The ‘fillers’ complement but don’t overwhelm the feature plant, and finally, the ‘spiller’ is added to tumble or overhang the planter to help to soften the edges.”
Use this principle to guide your choices, but also consider plant colour and texture to create a balanced design. Group plants that share the same needs – for example, preference to full sun or shade, or those that have similar watering requirements. Let the container size determine the type of plants you grow, suggests horticulturist and Northcote Pottery brand ambassador Melissa King. “Squat bowls and shallow planters are ideal for displaying succulents, annuals, lettuces and herbs, whereas big barrels or tubs are perfect for showcasing larger plants like dwarf fruit trees,” she says.
When potting up, always use a premium potting mix. “They contain nutrients, fertilisers and wetting agents to give plants the best opportunity to flourish,” says Lyndall. If planting succulents or cacti, look for a free-draining cacti and succulent mix. Water regularly, especially in hot weather, as pots tend to dry out faster than garden beds. To help promote the life of your display, feed often. “Liquid feed potted plants every two to three weeks – you can also water in diluted seaweed between feeds to help promote stronger, healthier plants,” says Melissa.
Here are some of our favourite combos: