Containers planted with a single species—rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis
) or a bold variegated ornamental grass, for example—can be stunning garden accents. Containers planted with a mix of plants are fun to create and offer almost unlimited possibilities of combinations. The best combinations depend on plants that feature handsome foliage and flowers produced over a long bloom season. One easy guideline for choosing the plants to combine in a container is to include "a thriller, a spiller, and a filler." That translates to at least one focal-point plant (the thriller), such as coleus or a geranium with multicolored leaves, for example, combined with several plants that spill over the edge of the pots—such as petunias, bacopa (Bacopa
spp.), creeping zinnias (Sanvitallia procumbens
), or ornamental sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas
'Blackie'). Finally, add the fillers, which are plants with smaller leaves and flowers that add color and fill in the arrangement all season long. Good fillers include salvias (Salvia
spp.), verbenas (Verbena
spp.), ornamental peppers (Capsicum
spp.), and wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens
) as well as foliage plants like parsley or licorice plants (Helichrysum
spp.). You may also want to include a plant for height, such as an ornamental grass like purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Purpureum'
). Add a trellis or pillar to a container and you can use a vine to add height to the composition. You'll need a total of five or six plants for an 18- or 24-inch container, for example.