Top Full Sun Perennial Plants For Container Gardens (Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers)

Container gardens are a great way to enjoy amazing color all year long, especially for those who don’t have a lot of gardening space.  A basic recipe for building a container garden is to use a Thriller, Filler(s), and Spiller(s) for a well-rounded look. Thrillers are plants that add height and dramatic effect to the container. These are generally placed in the back or center of the container. Fillers have a more rounded form and help fill out the container. Spillers are usually placed near the edge of the container and will hang down over the side.  Here are some suggestions for creating your full sun perennial container.

May Night Sage (Thriller)

Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night'

Full sun, 18 inch plant height, 24 inch flower height, 18 inch spread

May Night Sage features beautiful spikes of indigo flowers rising above the foliage from late spring to early summer. It’s fragrant narrow leaves remain green in color throughout the season. The purple stems are very effective and add winter interest. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage. This is a relatively low maintenance perennial. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard and is not particularly attractive to deer.

Hot Lips Sage (Thriller)

Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'

Full to partial sun, 24 inch height, 5 foot spread

Incredible red and white two-toned blooms are borne above the fine green foliage. Hot Lips Sage features beautiful racemes of fragrant white flowers with red overtones rising above the foliage from late summer to mid fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings. The flowers are excellent for cutting. 

Coral Sage (Thriller)

Salvia greggii 'Coral'

Full to partial sun, 30 inch height, 24 inch spread

Brilliant and airy coral flowers are borne above the rich green foliage on this summer and fall blooming perennial. It is hardier than most. Coral Sage features beautiful racemes of coral-pink flowers rising above the foliage from mid summer to mid fall, which emerge from distinctive burgundy flower buds. It’s fragrant narrow leaves remain green in color throughout the year. The burgundy stems can be quite attractive.

Coreopsis (Thriller)

Coreopsis 'Jethro Tull'

Full sun, 18 inch height, 18 inch spread

Splendid fluted petals with cheery, daisy-like yellow flowers and a central gold disk; tolerant of pests and drier soils; thriving in sandy and rocky soils. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard without attracting deer. This is a relatively low maintenance perennial and can live up to 10 years.

Beebalm ‘Pardon My’ Selection (Filler)

Monarda didyma 'Pardon My Purple'

Full to partial sun, 12 inch height, 10 inch spread

The ‘Pardon My’ selection of Beebalm produces multitudes of striking flowers in mid summer. It is mildew resistant and great for massing in the front of borders. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your yard, and is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. The Beebalm grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.

Purrsian Blue Catmint (Filler)

Nepeta x faassenii 'Purrsian Blue'

Full to partial sun, 13 inch height, 30 inch spread

Purrsian Blue Catmint features beautiful spikes of lightly-scented powder blue flowers with pink calyces rising above the foliage from early summer to early fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings. It’s small fragrant pointy leaves remain bluish-green in color throughout the season. Catmint will attract butterflies without attracting deer. It is a fast grower and can be expected to last around 10 years.

Scabiosa (Filler)

Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'

Full sun, 10 inch plant height, 18 inch flower height, 18 inch spread

Scabiosa features unique flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to early fall. The flowers are excellent for cutting. It’s deeply cut ferny leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the season. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition. This plant will also attract butterflies and bees without attracting deer. Scabiosa is drought-tolerant and not picky as to soil type or pH. It is also highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.

Creeping Jenny (Spiller)

Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'

Full to partial sun, 4 inch height, 24 inch spread

A spectacular choice, vigorous yet not overly aggressive, with uniquely paired bright golden leaves all season and attractive yellow flowers throughout the summer; almost indestructible. Creeping Jenny can also be used as a colorful groundcover for shady sites. It’s attractive round leaves remain gold in color throughout the season. Creeping Jenny is a fast grower and can be expected to live for approximately 10 years under ideal conditions.

Creeping Thyme (Spiller)

Thymus praecox 'Coccineus'

Full sun, 2 inch plant height, 3 inch flower height, 18 inch spread

A highly desirable and popular plant that forms a dense low mat smothered in stunning flowers throughout summer. It has an attractive fine and fragrant foliage throughout the rest of the season.  It is not particular to any soil type or pH and is considered to be drought-tolerant. Creeping Thyme will even thrive in inner city environments.

Creeping Phlox (Spiller)

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'

Full sun, 4 inch height, 18 inch spread

Creeping Phlox has stunning star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late spring. It’s tiny needle-like leaves remain in color throughout the year and it does not attract deer. Creeping Phlox is drought-tolerant and can live for up to 10 years, even in inner city environments.

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