Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Flowering Thrillers

Learn about plants that make great thrillers in combination planters.

Gardening in containers is ubiquitous and for good reason. We can all find a spot to place a planter of some kind. When creating patio planters having a tall "thriller" in the middle or back of your planter is one of the best ways to add drama and height. It is also a great way to get the height needed to really balance out the container that holds the plants. Thrillers are sometimes almost an afterthought in combination planters, but they deserve to have the spotlight all to themselves too. This season we are introducing 10 awesome new thrillers to the market. Not only do these plants thrive in containers, they are great in landscapes as well. I think you're going to love them!

First up are the Angelface® Angelonia. We have added one upgraded color - Angelface® Perfectly Pink. This plant has large flowers, dense branching and a raspberry-pink color with dark buds and new stems. The color is like nothing I've ever seen on an Angelonia and the blooms are larger than what you are used to seeing too. Angelface® are heat tolerant, low water use, tough plants that are well suited to most gardens. In addition to being great thrillers they are wonderful in landscapes, which is probably my favorite use for them. From left to right, below: BreathtakingAngelface® Perfectly Pink and One in a Million.

In addition to our regular Angelface®, I want to introduce you to our Angelface® Super plants. These new plants were created to be used as cut flowers and they do make great cutflower bouquets. But that doesn't mean they aren't also great landscape plants and wonderful thrillers for combinations. They top out around 3 1/2 feet tall, whereas our regular Angelface® are about 2 feet, max - which is already taller than most Angelonia. So if you are looking for something tall, tough and willowy, this is the plant for you. They come in three colors - blue, pink and white.


I know the songs say "diamonds are a girl's best friend," but I say daisies are a girl's best friend. For decades now Butterfly has been the best, most heat tolerant Argyranthemum on the market. The large, butter yellow daisy flowers are a delight in the landscape or containers. While we have searched the world over - really, literally, the world - and repeatedly struck out, until now - we finally have a white version of our favorite daisy called Pure White Butterfly. This is the original Butterfly, but with the much coveted white flowers. At one and a half to three feet tall, they are great as thrillers in containers, but are awesome in the landscape as well. Since Pure White Butterfly is brand new I don't have a lot of photos of it, but I have included some of Butterfly as well to give you a good idea of what it will look like in combinations and landscapes.

The tropical look is still popular everywhere, no matter where you live. Canna Lilies have long been a stalwart in gardens all over. They are sturdy plants with bright colors and a tropical feel. The bonus? Hummingbirds adore them! They grow quickly and are a great summer plant where the hotter it is, the happier they are. Most Cannas are 5 feet or taller, and our new Toucan® Canna series is relatively compact, with a final height around 4 feet, which means you can grow them in landscapes and very large container combinations. I tend to use them in containers by themselves, but grouped with other planters to give the effect of a combination planter, and this approach gives the Canna plenty of elbow room.  They can tolerate some dry soils and will do well with wet soils as well. This new collection comes in four colors (from left to right, below) Toucan® Dark OrangeToucan® Rose, Toucan® Scarlet and Toucan® Yellow.

When it comes to thrillers, Graceful Grasses® King Tut® Cyperus is hard to beat. This variety reaches 5 or more feet tall in one season, and looks like a plant Dr. Seuss would have created - it is an awesome plant. But sometimes King Tut® is just too much plant, yet you need something just as cool, but a whole lot smaller. Well, we have the plant for you - Graceful Grasses® Prince Tutwhich tops out at about 30 inches tall. Prince Tut is short and sturdy and works in the landscape, in containers by itself or in very large combination planters. It can take normal soil conditions, but will also happily grow in water gardens. In fact, I usually grow the Tuts in containers with no drainage holes and treat them as if they are their own mini-water gardens. This plant has something for everyone. The two photos below show the difference in height between Prince Tuton the left, and King Tut® on the right.

Graceful Grasses® Prince Tut is also a great container plant, of course, as these photos show. From left to right, the combination Dream BigPrince Tut in a mono and on the right, the Follow Your Dream Combo.

Additonal articles you might enjoy:

How to create a container garden with the Thriller, Filler, Spiller concept.

A quick video on Thriller, Filler, Spiller.

For even more ideas, visit us on Pinterest.

How to use thriller plants in the landscape:  Layered Landscapes.

Close to 100 more combination ideas: Container Garden Recipes.

Patent info:  Angelface® Perfectly Pink Angelonia hybrid USPPAF, Can PBRAF; Angelface® Super Blue Angelonia hybrid USPPAF, Can PBRAF; Angelface® Super White Angelonia hybrid USPPAF, Can PBRAF; Angelface® Super Pink Angelonia hybrid USPPAF, Can PBRAF; Pure White Butterfly Argyranthemum frutescens 'G14420' USPPAF, Can PBRAF

Back to Top

Find plants you love and create idea boards for all your projects.

To create an idea board, sign in or create an account.