Ideas & Inspiration

Container Gardening with Thrillers

Cordylines
Cordylines

Cordyline, or ti plant, is doubly thrilling, with burgundy or chartreuse foliage sometimes edged in pink. The narrow-leaved cordylines are commonly called spikes, but the name also includes tropical stunners like Red Sister. Pair cordyline with complementary petunias in red (top), or contrast with green foliage plants (above).

Rio Dipladenias
Rio Dipladenias

Rio dipladenia or mandevilla on a trellis, makes a stunning thriller. Glossy leaves add season-spanning interest, and the bright tropical bursts of blooms on twining stems are always a treat. Both can handle the heat, and a little bit of drought. Mandevilla may flag in the dog days of summer, but keep it watered and expect a final flurry of blooms before the first frost.

Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are a natural thriller in containers. The swaying fronds add texture and interest when the wind blows. Purple fountain grass is a popular warm-weather choice, and Fireworks pennisetum is another. At just 15 inches high, Little Bunny dwarf fountain grass is sized just right for containers.

Caladiums
Caladiums

Caladiums offer height, texture and bold shape, with the added bonus of enviable pink-burgundy-and-green color schemes. Purchase caladium bulbs in spring and tuck directly into potting mix in a container. Place in a sunny location and keep watered. Fill in the container with impatiens, begonias, petunias, and trailing Sunpatiens or creeping jenny. If you miss the bulbs, not to worry, the Garden Center is filled with fully grown caladiums in the summer months.

Majesty Palms
Majesty Palms

Majesty palms make fine thrillers in tropical containers. Be sure to keep Majesty Palm in low light, and if you live outside of a tropical zone, bring them inside for the winter months. Along the same lines, conifers, small shrubs and trees can all be used as thrillers in containers.