Easy Porch Planters: Follow This 3 Step Formula

Have you been procrastinating about getting your outdoor space looking presentable? Just two beautiful planters at your front door can make a great first impression. If you want them to be real show stoppers, don’t use just one plant. Use three plants that each have a unique trait.

I don’t have a green thumb, so you don’t have to be a gardener to keep a few plants alive for a few months. I recommend gathering inspiration from your next door neighbor, this is a good way to scope out what grows well in your zone. As I searched for inspiration I discovered there’s a consistency in the planters that look amazing.

I visited my friend Rosemary and she had stunning pots like these all over her outdoor area. She shared her tried and true formula for assembling amazing planters. A formula means that anyone can do it, even if you aren’t a gardener or you don’t have a green thumb.

The Planter Formula for Success

I didn’t invent this, but once I read it I realized this is the easy way to take your planter up a notch. It’s three words, one for each type of plant. You must use all three, spillers, fillers and thrillers. This doesn’t work as well with hanging planters because the thrillers are tall.

You need three different plants in each pot. One plant for height (thriller), one plant for color (filler), and the third spills over the side (spiller). It’s decorating for the front of your house. You need different heights, bright colors, and textures. See the plants that fit each category below.

Be sure when you buy plants that you keep in mind where your pots sit and how much sun they get. Don’t get plants that require full sun, if they won’t get that at your front door.

Start Off With A Great Pot

Planters can be really expensive and HEAVY if you get the clay or cement ones. I really like terra cotta pots. A clay pot helps my indoor plants stay alive because the pots retain moisture. Front porch planters are a different story. If you can fit a larger planter, it makes more of an impact.

If you don’t want to spend a lot there are some really large planters out there that look like stone, but they are rubber or plastic. I opted for two blue plastic ones from Home Depot. I like the look of wooden planters, but they require a little more upkeep.

If you choose rubber, plastic or resin planters check to be sure they have holes in the bottom. Most plants don’t like to have their roots sitting in water all the time. You can easily add holes with a drill. Just drill some small holes in the bottom of your planter.

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Outdoor Planter Ideas That Follow the Formula

The best way to choose plants in each category of the formula depends on where your planter is located. You need to determine if your pot gets full sun, partial sun or shade. There are lots of options for full sun plants, but many porches and patios don’t get full sun.

1. Thriller Plants – Thrillers need to have height. I’ve included different sizes to accommodate both larger and small pots.

  • Golden sword yucca – This plant can grow year-round in certain zones. Golden sword yucca will tolerate shade, but it does best in sun.
  • Hibiscus – Hibiscus is a two for one. It’s tall and it has different colors.
  • Green mountain boxwood – Boxwoods can get pretty tall, so you’ll want to use them in a larger pot.
  • Tall grasses or groundcover – I had a pot on the smallish side so I used ground cover called Super Blue to get some height.

2. Filler Plants – Fillers add the most color to your porch pots. I like to use flowers even though they have to be replaced seasonally. Many flowers require at least some sun, so they might not be well suited for a covered porch.

  • Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya) . This is technically a houseplant, but my porch is shaded so it works.
  • Pansies are good flowering plants for pots
  • celosia (which is pretty and red)
  • flowering kale
  • croton and
  • violas

3. Spiller Plants – These plants grow down over the pot.

  • Golden creeping jenny – This plant has a nice light green leaf. It does well in partial shade. If you use it in full sun, be sure to water often.
  • Sweet Potato vine – Potato vines are almost impossible to kill. They come in a purple variety and a light green. Stick with what works, and for me these are easy to keep alive.
  • English Ivy – Ivy is the most common plant you think of when you think of a plant spilling over the edge of something.

Use Organic Soil

While I’m not a gardening pro, I do believe in using organic soil. I think it’s better for the plants and for the environment. My Dad still believes if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is better. But his plants always seem to burn up.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an expert on the subject. Better Homes and Gardens says that healthy soil is the key to healthy plants.

See how easy it is to get the Pinterest-worthy porch planters like the ones you see in magazines. Follow this three-part formula. It doesn’t take a lot of time or gardening expertise and the end result is worth it. It’s a great project even for little kids.

Use Organic Soil

While I’m not a gardening pro, I do believe in using organic soil. I think it’s better for the plants and for the environment. My Dad still believes if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is better. But his plants always seem to burn up.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an expert on the subject. Better Homes and Gardens says that healthy soil is the key to healthy plants.

Best Plants for Outdoor Pots

The plants that make up each category of your formula will depend on where you planter is located. You need to determine if your pot gets full sun, partial sun or shade. There are lots of options for full sun plants, but many porches and patios don’t get full sun.

how to assemble a good plnater

Best tall “thriller” plants for pots

Golden sword yucca – This plant can grow year round in certain zones. Golden sword yucca will tolerate shade, but it does best in sun.

Green mountain boxwood – Boxwoods can get pretty tall, so you’ll want to use them in a larger pot.

Tall grasses or groundcover – I had a pot on the smallish side so I used ground cover called Super Blue to get some height.

Best Filler Plants for Pots

Fillers are usually where the color comes into your pot. I like to put flowers or something that has color, even if they have to be replaced seasonally. Many flowers require at least come sun, so they might not be well suited for a covered porch.

I used the Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya) for my color. This is technically a houseplant, but my porch is shaded so I wanted to try it out. Other good plants for fall are pansies, celosia (which is pretty and red), flowering kale, croton and violas.

Best Spiller Plants For Pots

Golden creeping jenny – This plant has a nice light green leaf. It does well in partial shade. If you use it in full sun, be sure to water often.

Potato vines – Potato vines are almost impossible to kill. They come in a purple variety and a a light green. Stick with what works, and for me these are easy to keep alive.

English Ivy – Ivy is the most common plant you think of when you think of a plant spilling over the edge of something.

If you’re looking for more information about how to build a star-studded planter, visit this post.

If you are looking for more inspiration for your outdoor projects, take a look at these ideas.

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4 Comments

  1. What a great article, I learned a ton! I’m really glad you mentioned organic soil – I’ve been learning a lot about that and it’s crazy the amount of garbage in some soils! Thanks for hosting with us and sharing this awesome post.

    1. That looks terrific. I could never do anything like what you did with those planters and the flowers inside.
      They are really beautiful. I need very simple instructions as I am a klutz with planting expecially.

  2. I had never heard this spiller, filler, thriller but it totally makes sense. When I look around, in shops and online, it’s exactly how they do things for the best design and appearance. Looking at my own plants, I only ever have one plant per pot. I think I will mix things up from now on.

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