You see those beautiful baskets hanging when you first enter the store or the beautiful containers that your neighbors have loving placed in front of their porch. You love the look that they offer with the beautiful colors and stunning blooms that last all season long. Then, you look at the price tag and decide that you can probably live without it. That doesn’t have to be the end of the discussion. There are ways to get a flashy showpiece of your own without shelling out the big bucks. The key to this is a mix of DIY and being a savvy shopper.

Container Configuration

Putting together your own container will help to save you money. Often, you can find the different components of a container cheaper separate than you can as an already put together piece. Plus, you have the added bonus of putting together things to your taste rather than having to pick something that someone else had already determined to their taste. You can either put in a single type of plant, such as the baskets that often only have petunias or ferns, or you can layer several plants together. These layers are often referred to as the thriller, filler and spiller by professionals.


The thriller layer of your container is your centerpiece. This is going to be your showstopper. It should be a vertical plant that is higher than the other plants selected for your container, such as Butterfly Argyranthemum. This will be placed either in the center or the back of your container of choice depending on how it will be displayed. The center should be used for this plant if it can be seen from all sides, but it should be placed in the back if this will only be viewed from one particular side. For instance, this would make a difference if your container will be leaning against your porch or hanging up to be seen on all angles.


Filler is exactly as it sounds in that this is the portion of the container that will be filled by a plant that will help it look fuller to the eye. This should be a plant that mounds or looks rounded, like petunias. Fillers will go around the thriller, either by surrounding it in the center or being placed midway between the thriller and the edge of the container depending on the orientation of the container.


Spillers are the final plants that will spill over the side of the container for dramatic effect. An example of a spiller would be Nasturtium. They will be placed in a section that is close to the edge of the container either on all sides or just in the front. This portion of the container will have the effect of softening the look of the container by hiding the container itself as it tumbles towards the ground.


Sourcing Cheap

Now, here are some ideas to help you start sourcing your pieces and parts cheap. Haunt the clearance sections in your gardening supply center and general stores. During the season, you will be able to find plants that are looking a bit wilted with a very small price tag, often as low as a dollar or two for a flat. These plants may look as though they are not doing very well, and yes, they might not all make it, but with a little TLC, fertilizer, and water they can thrive. An example of a great find was with a potted daisy plant for a dollar. All the daisies had broken stems, but the plant itself was in good condition and thrived all summer long. Sometimes, you can even find some of the containers or hanging baskets that you’d admired before for cheaper because they need to bring in new stock or are starting to look a little thin. The bonus to buying these great deals are that not only do you have the container showpiece that you wanted, but you’ll have the container to use next year often at less than a container itself would cost. At the end of the season (or in the case of a general store, at the end of their selling period), you can often get supplies cheaper, and this can include containers and container dirt.

Hanging baskets and containers don’t have to seem like a pipe dream when you’re on a budget. Putting together your own basket is a cost saving option that allows you to put your own spin on what to include with your container. You cannot go wrong when you use the thriller, filler and spiller method. Don’t be shy to ask for help from the professionals at the garden center as they will be more than willing to help you find the perfect plants to use in your personalized container.