The Best Filler Plants for Container Gardens

Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue)
aimintang / Getty Images

To get a balanced looking container garden, consider following the old garden adage: Thrillers, spillers, fillers. After selecting your tall, eye-catching "thriller" plants, and your trailing "spiller" plants, fill in the gaps with shorter filler plants. Your fillers will help to create a full, pleasing arrangement without taking away from the showier blooms. 

  • 01 of 16

    Agastache (Hyssop)

    Giant Hyssop (Agastache rugosa)
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    Agastache is a great plant for making the bulk of your container lush and colorful, The long blooming, spiky flowers offset a rounded or weeping focal point.

  • 02 of 16


    Growing Fresh Basil
    Marie Iannotti

    Herbs are nice filler choices. You will have them handy for harvesting and the more you pinch them, the fuller the plants will get. Basil gives you the choice of rich green or many shades of burgundy and purple.

  • 03 of 16


    Caladium Foliage
    Marie Iannotti

    Caladium plants add color without the worry of flowers and deadheading. They always look their best. The heart-shaped leaves will soften a spikier focal point. Caladium ​makes a great houseplant, or you can simply store the tubers for winter.

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    Marie Iannotti

    Celosia adds a burst of uproarious color. These annuals bloom virtually nonstop, looking good all season. Since they are annuals, their root system won't need excessive space in the container.

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  • 05 of 16


    Coleus Plants
    Marie Iannotti

    Coleus offers an almost limitless choice of leaf form and
    color choices. You can even find varieties that prefer either sun or shade. Periodically pinching them back will develop full, bushy plants.

  • 06 of 16

    Euphorbia marginata (Snow-on-the-mountain)

    Euphorbia marginata in greenhouse
    Oleg1824i / Getty Images

    For a soothing, cool feel to your container, try the icy white and green combination of Snow-on-the-mountain. This is an annual plant that grows quickly from seed. It looks cool but can handle heat well.

  • 07 of 16

    Firecracker Plant (Cuphea cyanea)

    Firecracker Plant (Cuphea cyanea)
    Joshua McCullough / Getty Images

    The unusual flowers of Cuphea have been likened to firecrackers and cigars. This is a small dense plant that flowers profusely all summer, especially if you are willing to deadhead it. Cuphea prefers some shade, on hot days.

  • 08 of 16

    Flowering Maple (Abutilon)

    Flowering Maple (Abutilon)
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    The flowering or parlor maple, isn't a maple at all, so do not worry that you'll have a tall tree on your hands. The lovely crepe-paper like flowers comes in brilliant red and an assortment of pastels. They bloom continually and are favorites of hummingbirds.

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  • 09 of 16

    Lantana (Lantana camara)

    Lantana Flowers (Lantana camara)
    Marie Iannotti

    In warmer climates, lantana will be a perennial that can grow quite large and can even be trained into a standard. It is often sold as an annual plant with exuberant blooms, often in festive tri-color combinations.

  • 10 of 16

    Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

    Ornamental Kale
    Masahiro Makino / Getty Images

    Flowering cabbage and kale are perfect for fall containers. The colorful leaves are not affected by frost or even light snow. Most offer some combination of purple-pink and green. Removing browning leaves is the only maintenance required.

  • 11 of 16

    Perilla frutescens (Shiso)

    Perilla frutescens (Shiso)
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    Perilla often gets confused with basil, probably because they are both in the mint family. Perilla is an annual and won't spread as quickly as mint, but it does self-sow profusely. In a container, it adds lush green or purple color and a spicy scent.

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    Dinodia Photos / Getty Images

    Fuzzy leaves and subtle variegation and patterns make Plectranthus a popular choice for containers. They will fill your container with texture and color, with no effort on your part, other than planting them.

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  • 13 of 16

    Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue)

    Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue)
    aimintang / Getty Images

    Salpiglossis is a wonderful upright annual plant with an abundance of trumpet-shaped flowers that come in shades ranging from mahogany through purple, pink, and yellow. They also make great cut flowers.

  • 14 of 16

    Senecio cineraria (Dusty Miller)

    Dusty Miller (Senecio)
    Nancy Nehring / Getty Images

    That old standby, Dusty Miller, is an excellent choice for containers. The silvery-blue, lacy leaves are the perfect frame for all kinds of tall, focal points. They can handle dry conditions and some shade.

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    Strobilanthes dyeranus (Persian shield)

    Persian Shield - Strobilanthes dyerianus
    Marie Iannotti

    Persian shield is a tropical perennial. With its iridescent purple leaves, it is often grown as a houseplant, but it also makes a great annual outdoor plant and using it in containers gives you the best of both worlds. Enjoy it outdoors and bring it in, when the weather changes.

  • 16 of 16

    Swiss Chard

    Swiss Chard
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    You know how beautiful chard is in the vegetable garden, especially when the sun shines through it. You can also use it as a foliage plant, in containers. Harvesting the outer leaves will keep it attractive and full. Watch out for groundhogs, who love chard as much as you do.