How To Build a Summer Annual Planter!

Living in Canada means we have many stages of seasonal changes from Winter into Summer. There is “first Spring” - the week that gives you hope it is all over with and we have successfully made it through the cold weather. “Second winter” - the reminder that we are not quite there yet, and it could be warm and sunny one day and snowing the next. “True spring” - when the relief and trust in Mother Nature comes back and the Lilac and Forsythia officially start to bloom. Finally, my favorite; Spring into Summer - where we see consistent warm temperatures and have confidence that the final frost is behind us. This brings me right into my favorite gardening project, creating summer annual planters!

May’s planter preparation brings me so much joy. Lush foliage and beautiful colors all combined in a perfect little planter such as our 12” Urbana Cube Planter to bring delight to anyone whose eye it catches. Summer annuals are a great way to bring texture and color to your front doorstep, porch relaxation area, or windowsill. Understanding how to build a planter is just the beginning; The fun part is shopping at your local greenhouse or home renovation store and finding the combinations that suit your personality best! With this month’s blog I want to share with you my favorite method of building an annual planter: the thriller, filler, and spiller method!

Now you may have heard of this method before, it certainly is not one that I have created myself, but I believe it is the simplest for any level of gardener to follow. I have chosen some summer annuals to plant with to help break down this method and inspire you to create a thriller, filler, spiller planter yourself!

Thrillers: These are typically the first plants you put in the planter, usually in the center or at the very back depending on the vessel you are working with. You want your thrillers to be dramatic and taller than the rest of the plants you chose to work with. In this planter I have chosen a Dwarf King Tut Grass. I love the way they stand up tall and lush out with a “firework” effect.

Fillers: Fillers are your textured foliage plants, and endless colorful flower possibilities. This is where the fun of mixing and matching unique color pallets comes into play. For my fillers I chose a beautiful and funky Rex Begonia because I love the colors and textures of the leaves. A light pink Dipladenia flower which has a tropical vibe, and finally a magenta purple Osteospermum (also known as an African Daisy.) I think these color combos all play amusingly off the Rex Begonia which was the first plant I knew I wanted in my planter. A good tip to keep in mind is to pick plants that have similar growing needs so you know they will all develop nicely together as the season goes on.

Spillers: The final touches that bring your planter together by filling any gaps and giving it that organic feel. Spillers are the plants that will flow through and out of your planter softening the overall look and connecting it to the area in which your planter is placed. The spillers I chose are what I consider to be a staple – Potato Vine as I love how quickly it grows and how luxurious it looks and Diamond Frost Euphorbia, which is a pretty and delicate white flower that bushes out and spills slightly.

My final guidelines for building a planter: Be sure to understand the care requirements for the annuals you chose and place them in the right environment such as in sun or in shade. Use a good patio soil mix to guarantee healthy growth for your plant’s roots, and ensure you water your planter consistently. Don’t forget about the benefits of using fertilizer - Next month’s blog will have more details on using fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants.

As always, have fun with it! Gardening is about getting your hands dirty, learning through your experiences, and finding what works best for you.