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Gulf Coast Gardening: A Recipe for Great Summer Containers

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Follow these simple steps to create terrific annual containers for your Florida or Gulf Coast garden.

Pentas flowers for summer containers
The Thriller-Filler-Spiller recipe for containers

By Keri Byrum

Hot, steamy weather is just around the corner. Let’s make the most of it this year by planting flowers that thrive in the Gulf Coast summer.

Have you seen beautiful containers on the covers of glossy magazines and wondered just how to create your own? I am confident this "recipe" can help you get the professional-looking results you want.

I think “recipe” is the perfect word. Pick your own ingredients according to the directions, follow these steps, and enjoy your beautiful containers all season long.

striped foliage of Tropicanna Gold canna

Thriller, Spiller, Filler: These are the components for our perfect container recipe. Let's look at each.

Thriller: This is the big guy. Generally in the back part of your container, this single element should be the largest component. I recommend getting one at least 18 to 24 inches in height. If it has colorful leaves or flowers, that’s a bonus. For the heat and humidity cannas just can’t be beat. Others to consider are large coleus, grasses, or even caladiums.

Purslane trails over the edge to extend flowers

Spiller: These are the plants that trail out over the edge of your pot. These are very important in extending the amount of plants that you see. I suggest one to three plants per container. For summer months consider portulaca or purslane, ornamental sweet potatoes, scaevola, or verbena for a beautiful trailing element.

Angelonia flowers are the perfect filler for containers

Filler: The upright plants that help blend together thriller and spiller are called fillers. Look for plants that are 6 to 18 inches in height. Large flowerpots need two to three filler plants; smaller pots may need just one. Examples include angelonia, SunPatiens or New Guinea impatiens, begonias, and pentas. All of these flower throughout the summer and keep your containers looking great.

Caladiums add color to containers in the shade

The key is to plant in early summer so plants can develop strong root systems before the intense weather is in full swing. It may be tough to remove plants that still flower, but getting your summer flowers growing early ensures they perform well all season. Enjoy the heat this year by having your own garden planted with the best plants for hot color.