21 Best Spilling Plants for Outdoor Containers & Flower Pots


Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil

The best spilling plants for containers and flower pots are essential to create balance and character in your garden. These spiller plants are not only unique but they add texture and help bring together different aspects of your container garden together.

When designing container gardens, it is a good idea to have variety. This is not only in color, form and size but also in terms of thrillers, fillers and spillers.

Below I’ll explain each of these. And, I’ll have different articles focusing of the kinds of plants in coming articles.

But for now, I’ll keep the focus on spiller or spilling plants.


Thrillers vs. Fillers vs. Spillers: What’s the Difference?

So what exactly are thrillers, fillers and spillers?

Well, each of them are a type of plant. Not so much that they’re a species or genus. Instead, they describe the look and function of a group of plants.



Thrillers are the main attractions. You can call them the superstars as they’re supposed to be the focal points of your container.

As such, thrillers are often taller, more showy, colorful, dramatic or exotic. Basically, anything that will make people notice. And, to do so, they need to be stunning.

Additionally, they bloom for long periods as well.



Fillers are the supporting cast just like the supporting actors are in the movie. Their goal is the fill up the space that the thrillers don’t take up.

After all, there’s nothing worse that a vase or pot that’s lacking in contents.

As such, fillers often take up the middle of the pot or are placed around the thrillers.

One of the best things about designing your garden is that there are no rules. It’s really up to you. And, the most important thing is that you’re happy with that you see.

Because of their supporting role, fillers are not as showy or colorful as the thrillers. After all, you don’t want to outshine the main star, right?



Finally, there are the spillers or spilling plants.

As their name suggests, these are allowed to spill out or cascade from the container. You can use them for tall planters as well as hanging baskets.

The higher up they are, the better the effect.

That said, some pots are lower and closer to the ground. And, spillers are allowed to sprawl across the floor or tabletop.

Because of this, spillers are often trailing plants. At the very least, they have long stems or vines that can overflow and drop over the edges of containers.

That said, some spillers can get “puffy”. Thus, you let them grow and overwhelm the container creating a dropping shape over the pot.

Spillers help soften the look of your container garden.

And, they are positioned near the ends or rims to make it easier for them to grow outwards.

Both flowering and foliage plants work depending on the look you’re going for.


Best Spilling Plants: Foliage & Flowering

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum are sweet scented, cool season flowers that feature tiny blooms that cover their foliage.

This makes them perfect landscaping plants if you want to cover an area with floral carpeting. But, they are likewise popular choices for flower pots and contains.

If you let them grow, they’ll spill out of their planters and give you something amazing to look at. Because they don’t grow too long, they won’t trail. Nevertheless, they still look lovely.




Sedum is commonly known as stonecrop. And, they come in many varieties.

Some of which are perfect for containers as they will trail down if you let them grow out over the ends. That said, you do need to pick the right varieties that will do so since not all sedum will.

But what they’re well-known for is their ability to grow without a lot of care. In fact, even if you don’t have a lot of experience in the garden, you’ll likely still be able to do very well with them.

One of the reasons these perennial succulents are easy to care for is that they don’t mind you forgetting to water them. And, they can tolerate lots of sunlight as well. As such, you can leave them in areas of your garden which get too much sun for most plants to tolerate.


Creeping Zinnia

Creeping Zinnia

Image from Pinterest

While it does have the same name as the bright colored showy flowers, creeping zinnia don’t belong to the same genus as your common garden zinnia.

This is one reason why plant common names can get confusing.

That said, these are beautiful as well, although they have much smaller blooms and very different growing habits.

Creeping zinnias are great for containers as they will overflow over the sides. They likewise bloom during the summer which are perfect for their bright demeanor.

To get the most out of them, provide them with full sun and well-draining soil.


Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny

Image from Pinterest

As its name suggests, creeping Jenny are low growing crawlers. As such, they’re great as ground cover thanks to their beautiful bright yellow and green foliage.

But, many gardeners also grow them in planters and hanging baskets because as they get longer, they’ll start to spill over the edges which makes them amazing to look at.

Another reason for this is that they can become invasive plants. As such, keeping them in containers saves you the extra work and hassle of having to monitor and keep it from spreading all across your yard.






If you want something that will produce lots of colorful blooms and just pop out of containers, consider verbena.

These herbaceous perennials are often grown as annuals because they expend a lot of energy during flowering. As such, they’ll give you a stunning display of flowers before fading. This results in them being short-lived.

So, to get the most out of them, you want to allow them to profusely bloom during their first year.

Because of this, verbena are often grown as low trailing plants and as bedding.

They’ll start showing up during spring and keep your garden filled until the fall.

By allowing them to grow and overfill the pot, you’ll have an amazing show of colors and blossoms.




Lobelia that are found in garden centers are often annuals that can grow as perennials in zones 10 and 11. They are best known as trailing plants that make great spillers for containers or hanging baskets.

Although, they’re versatile enough to be used in many different ways in terms of landscaping.

Blue is no doubt the most stunning color available. And, the most popular because it will instantly catch your eye.

However, you’ll also find red, pink, white and purple varieties which you can select from depending on which goes best with your garden’s design.


Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Black-Eyed Susan

If you’ve ever seen these beautiful flowering vines you’ll know that they’re a sight to behold.

Their ability to trail downwards up to 8 feet from hanging baskets or planters makes them stunning draping or cascading plants with lovely yellow and green colors.

Black eyed Susan vines are commonly seed in their yellow and orange colors. But, there are red and white varieties as well.

They grow best in rich loamy soil that’s given enough moisture. Full sun is likewise recommended.


Sweet Potato Vine

Sweet Potato Vine

If you prefer bright colored foliage plants that spill over the edges of containers, look no further than sweet potato vines.

These are gorgeous perennials that can grow to between 8 to 10 feet long. Thus, making them perfect for tall containers and hanging baskets.

You can also keep them in planters and allow their lovely foliage to grow over the corners.

Do note that these vines do not flower. As such, all their energy will be directed to growing amazing looking leaves.

They do best in warm areas where they can get through the winters outside. As such, they’re best suited for zones 9 to 11.


Ivy Geranium

Ivy Geranium

Ivy geranium are very similar to their better known siblings. But, they feature much smaller blooms and don’t grow upright.

Instead, they are often grown in containers because they’re plentiful in number and look gorgeous when allowed to spill over the edges of the planter.

That said, they have some similar features to their more upright siblings. That is, they tolerate drought and heat making them a good option even in warm locations.


Other Spiller Plants

  • Cup and Saucer Vine
  • Joseph’s Coat
  • Wave Petunias
  • Glory Flower
  • Torrenia
  • Licorice plant
  • Bacopa
  • Nasturtium
  • Swan River Daisy
  • Blue Star Creeper
  • Parrot’s Beak
  • Trailing Snapdragon

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