Designing Early Spring Planters

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!"
– Sitting Bull

Photo credits: Anna Herbst

Who doesn’t love the early days of spring? Bulbs are popping, days are longer, and flip flops are back in the rotation. Celebrate the end of a long drab winter with welcoming pots packed with enchanting early spring flowers.  

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To create a bright and cheery spring container, I rely on the tried and true thriller, filler, spiller technique. For anyone needing a refresher on this, thrillers are the eye-catching, taller plants that go in the center of the pot; fillers are midsize and surround and enhance the thriller; spillers are the dreamy, cascading plants that drape over the sides.  



With their dainty petals, wide range of colors, and long graceful stems, snapdragons are my top pick for a show-stopping early spring thriller plant. Add soft grass and curly willow branches to bring even more drama to the mix. Nemesia provide a pretty contrast with the snapdragons and should be placed outside of the grass and branches.  

For the middle height and filler level, I like using osteospermum (African daisies) and pansies.  Osteospermum come in an assortment of bright colors with a pretty purple center, and provide the ideal height so your container doesn’t look too flat. If you are going for a monochromatic look, fill in with pansies in different shades of purple and blue; if you want something more vibrant, plant pansies in every color of the rainbow. 


Photo credits: Anna Herbst

My favorite spillers for early springtime are bacopa, lamium, and creeping Jenny. Spillers soften the edges of the container as they tumble toward the ground.  They root the pot to the earth, and give the illusion that the flowers are growing naturally right out of the container.    

Photo credits: Anna Herbst

Early spring containers are filled with cold-tolerant plants, but it’s important to keep an eye out for frost warnings or cold snaps, and move the pots indoors as needed. These temperamental beauties will also wilt in high heat, so shift them to a shady spot on sunnier days. They won’t last much longer than 8 weeks, but the fleeting beauty of early spring flowers is part of what makes them so magical. 

Happy spring!



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