How to create a stunning summer pot display


One of the easiest ways to add colour to your garden in the summer is through a summer pot display. Although I love having a large garden to look after now, our previous house had only a small courtyard garden, so I’m used to being limited to container gardening. Summer pots are one of my favourite ways to add colour to the garden at the time when you’re going to be using it most.

After getting back from our holiday, setting up our summer pot display was one of my first to-do items. I headed to the garden centre to pick up the plants I wanted to use and got straight onto it.

There is an art to creating a mixed pot – the balance of textures and colours can be a difficult one to get right. But there is a seasoned recipe for this – you stick to three different plants which perform different functions: thriller, spiller, and filler. The thriller is your centrepiece plant, providing the wow factor; spiller softens the edges, tumbling out of the side of the pot; and filler provides the balance, with foliage or softer flowering plants that won’t overwhelm your star attraction.


Create a summer pot display


I think it’s also important to think about colours and plants across all of your pots. Link the colour scheme across your pots – I use a pink, purple and blue colour scheme in the rest of the garden, so I logically follow that for the pots too. I also try to repeat the plants across my range of pots, to create a bit of cohesion.


My thrillers

This year I’ve chosen Salvia Nemorosa Ostfriesland (partly as I want to plant this one out after the summer to replace one I lost in the flood), purple and hot pink osteropermum (African daisies) and a lovely hot pink pelargonium as my thrillers – fabulous colours that are really eye-catching and should flower throughout the season.


Pelargonium and Salvia Nemorosa

Osteospermum African Daisies

Other good thrillers: dahlias, fuschias, argyrantheum  (margerite)

My spillers

I went for a touch of blue with trailing lobelia, which should just gently cascade over the sides of the pots. I bought quite a lot of this with the intention of using it in every pot to tie things together.


Trailing Lobelia

Other good spillers: Alternantheras, nasturtiums


My fillers

Geraniums (or pelargoniums) are probably the most familiar summer container plant. I chose a soft pink variety, but I love their pretty leaves too, which provide a good backdrop for my thrillers.



Other good fillers: heliotrope, trailing petunias


Think about scale when choosing your pairings – a rough guide that works is if your spillers and fillers are between 1/3 and 2/3 the size of your thrillers.


How to plant up

  • Place drainage material (broken bits of pot, stones, gravel etc.) into the bottom of your pot, then fill with multi-purpose compost, leaving space for your plants plus an extra inch at the top to allow for watering.
  • Arrange your plants as you wish. Once I’ve chosen my plants, I don’t like to overthink the arrangement too much! As you can see from my finished photos below, mine need to grow in a little more, but the flowers should start blooming very soon and bring in the colour.
  • Water in well.
  • Regular deadheading will ensure your flowers continue to bloom and provide a really impressive display.
  • Ensure that the pots are kept watered daily throughout the summer – that should be easy, as if there is any nice weather I’m sure you’ll be outside on your patio enjoying a nice glass of wine whilst admiring your beautiful pots!


Summer pot with Salvia and trailing lobelia

Finished summer pots

Summer pot display



Have you created any summer pots yet? I’d love to know what plants you used, or your favourites from other years – do leave me a comment and let me know!


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  • Elsie Pop
    June 16, 2016

    The thriller, spiller and filler concept is new to me, but what an unforgettable phrase. Now, if the dog would only stop eating all my plants! xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 16, 2016

      I believe there are some plants that dogs don’t like to eat. Although I’m not sure that would stop Poppy to be honest!

  • Laura - dear bear and beany
    June 17, 2016

    I love plant pots. Normally I get my mum to help me, she is much better than me. But after reading this I think I could give it a go. Last year I planted a special rose tree in a pot, that was given to me when I had Holly. X

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 22, 2016

      Oh, you should definitely give it a go – honestly, it’s really easy once you’ve got the right plants, just chuck them in and you’re set!

  • Nicola Ranson
    June 22, 2016

    Love these pots! So colourful! I sprinkled some wildflower seeds in my windowboxes in the spring. They’ve all started popping up and are starting to look nice! I wrote a post about it on my blog 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 22, 2016

      Thanks for commenting Nicola – I just checked out your post, they looked lovely! A wildflower mix is always lovely – you never quite know what you’re going to get!

  • [email protected]
    June 22, 2016

    Oh I love pots too, in fact I am a bit obsessed. I have a blue, purple and pink scheme too although I have mixed it up an introduced some red in there this year. Completely by accident I seem to follow your rules – phew! I love Fuchsia as my thriller xx #HomeEtc

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 22, 2016

      Ah, you must have a good eye Lisa – I need some guidelines to help me! Fuchsia is lovely – I saw a gorgeous pale pink variety the other day that was really tempting. And I seem to remember a variety called Mrs Popple – the name always makes me smile!

  • Stephanie Robinson
    June 22, 2016

    Fab choices – i’ve been to the garden centre this week too – first week back from hols. I’ve gone for something slightly different and have bigger some bigger plants – cosmos and rudbeckia – and plan to keep them in pots for as long as I can. For the other pots I’ve gone for a pinky-bluey theme and I couldn’t resist some more succulents and some coleus too! As we’ve a mainly green garden I go for all sorts of pops of colour all over the place! #homeetc

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 23, 2016

      Oh I love rudbeckia! Considering it for our little front garden as I have a few gaps I need to fill. I love a pop of colour too!

  • Molly Louise
    June 22, 2016

    Great tips, I’ve pinned the post so I can come back to it – I’ve only got a small balcony and only have herbs on there, so want to create summer pots to introduce some colour – and I want them to look just like yours, stunning! #HomeEtc

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      June 23, 2016

      Ah, thanks so much! I’m hoping they’ll start to fill out a bit more soon and that the lobelia will be blooming – will post an update picture once that happens I think!

  • Nancy Straughan
    June 23, 2016

    At the moment I only have a little herb garden on my balcony and whenever I see beautiful floral window boxes I want to rush home and plant some myself! Thanks for the tips! #HomeEtc

  • Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    June 23, 2016

    Katy, these are gorgeous, such lovely colours too! I’ve also bookmarked your post so I can refer to it when we move into our new house. We will have a whole lot more garden space to get green fingered, and place some pots! xx #homeetc

  • Caro | The Twinkles Mama
    June 26, 2016

    These are my favourite colours for our garden too, funnily enough! I’ve always been drawn to cool blues, pinks and whites, rather than the hot colours. Lovely — We have some serious work to do on our garden when we get back from holiday. It’s been so neglected since we started the shed build!!! But hey — you can’t do everything can you! 🙂 Thanks for linking up with us lovely! Caro x #HomeEtc

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