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Patriotic Flowers

Plant some patriotism this 4th of July with red, white, and blue flowers in container gardens. These arrangements are a perfect way to extend the spirit of Independence Day to picnic tables, patios, and porches.

When designing a container garden, a good rule of thumb to follow is to include a thriller, filler, and spiller. What’s a thriller, filler, and spiller you ask? They’re terms used to describe and categorize the growing behavior of different plants destined for a container garden. To help get you started, we’ve included some of our favorite options for planting a patriotic container garden.


The thriller plant is the attention grabbing, superstar of the container. They are usually tall plants with colorful foliage or dramatic flowers—mandevillas and hibiscus, for example. These big and bold focal points can be anything from ornamental grasses to canna lilies or asters in the fall.

Dahlias are a good choice for a patriotic planter because they come in a variety of colors, and you can save the bulbs for next year.

Popular thrillers include: aster, canna lily, cosmos, dahlia, fountain grass, salvia, and sun coleus.

Fillers for shady spots include: caladium, cordyline, or fuchsia.


A filler is the plant which grows in the otherwise empty spaces of the container while adding a level of texture. Fillers look best when they contrast the thriller, but they have a practical role too: hide the stems and stalks of the thriller.

Heliotropes make a fantastic option for a patriotic planter—they’re available in the hard-to-find blue flower, and they are prolific bloomers. Petunias are another great option as they can come in red, white, or blue and have a filler-type growing pattern.

Other popular fillers include: ageratum, begonia, caladium, coleus, dusty miller, gazania, geranium, gerbera daisy, heuchera, joseph's coat, lantana, petunia, and salvia.

Fillers for shady areas include: Boston fern, New Guinea impatiens, and oxalis.


A spiller is a plant which grows over the edge of containers, draping nicely down towards the ground. Its purpose is to soften the edge of the container and to help the arrangement look more settled. Look for spillers that either contrast or echo the other plants with their shape, color, or texture. Never let your spiller compete with your thriller, and always place them at the edge of the container. When you think you’ve included enough spiller plants, shoehorn in a few more.

For a 4th of July planter, consider a red or white creeping gloxinia, or the trendy bacopas with its tiny, white, showy flowers and dark green, contrasting foliage.

Some popular spillers include: alyssum, bacopa, calibrachoa (million bells), fiber optic grass, ivy, nasturtium, sweet potato vine, thyme, trailing begonia, trailing lobelia, trailing rosemary, and vinca vine.

Spillers for shade include: asparagus fern, purple heart, and red dragonwing begonia.

Red Dahlia
White Bacopas
Blue Petunias