Container Gardening For Shady Areas

The Thriller, Filler, Spiller container planting method has been around for quite a while now.  It’s a handy little guideline for designing containers.  For a quick explanation:

  • The ‘Thriller’ is a plant that is tall and stately, drawing your eye up and giving the container height.
  • The ‘Filler’ is a medium sized plant that literally fills in the middle portion of the container
  • The ‘Spiller’ is a plant that cascades over the edge of the container. It extends and lengthens the container planting.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas that fill all of those categories when planning a container.  We have developed this chart below specifically for shady areas to give you a start.

You can mix & match the Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers as they work for what you would like to plant.  With this chart you can combine heights, textures and colours.  Let you creative juices flow.

Have fun with this! And if you need any help or have questions, feel free to contact us via our website or call us at 780.467.3091.

Thriller, Filler, Spiller Ideas For Shady Areas


Tall Height:

  • Canna
  • Draceana
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Ornamental Millet
  • (sheltered)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)

Medium Height:

  • Astilbe
  • Begonias – Tuberous – Dragon Wing – American bulb
  • Brunnera
  • Coleus – Kong
  • Fuchsia – upright
  • Heuchera
  • Hostas
  • Pulmonaria
  • Tiarella


Tall / Medium Height:

  • Abutilon
  • Begonia – Tuberous or Fibrous
  • Browallia
  • Coleus
  • Fuchsia – upright
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Mimulus
  • Pansies/Violas
  • Schizanthus


Tall / Medium Height:

  • Asparagus Fern
  • Begonia – Tuberous –Illumination Mix
  • Dichondra
  • Euphorbis
  • Fuchsia
  • Kennelworth Ivy
  • Lamium
  • Lysmachia
  • Mezoo
  • Nepeta
  • Potato Vine
  • Scaevola (Fan Flower)
  • Silver Nettle Vine
  • Spider Plant
  • Sweet Potato Vine
  • Torenia
  • Vinca

About The Author

Wallish Greenhouses
Tucked just outside the northern boundary of Sherwood Park on Clover Bar Road, we are known in the greenhouse world as a grower-retailer agribusiness. We specialize in growing annuals and perennials. Presently, Wallish Greenhouses is operated by Glenn & Louise Wallish, and Dan & Sharon (Wallish) Murphy, now a 3rd generation business.