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Outdoor Plants, SUMMER, Spring, Summer, Blog

Design and plant a summer planter

May 18, 2022


Gardening season is here with endless possibilities for creativity with plants. Express your personal style by designing and building your own summer planter. Whether on a deck, patio, or balcony, planters are an easy way to grow your favourite seasonal plants.

Choosing your plants

Premade planters or urn inserts from a garden centre usually have flowers and foliage that complement each other and create visual interest through height, growing habit, and colour. They likely include a variety of thrillers, spillers, and fillers.




Thrillers – are eye-catching statement plants that stand out for their size, shape, or unique form. Thrillers may have exciting foliage, bold colour, or unusual flowers and may even be perennials that you can over-winter or add to your garden in the fall. These should be the first plant you pick for your planter.




The size of your pot will help determine your choice of the thriller. Ideas for thrillers include:

  • Mandevilla pyramids
  • Hibiscus standards
  • Bougainvillea pyramids
  • Dracaena spikes


Fillers –  Do precisely as their name suggests. They fill space, add volume to your planter and surround your thriller to provide a contrast. These plants add mass and texture to your planter. Depending on your pot size, choose 2 to 4 different plants and use complementary colours to the thriller.




Some popular fillers include:


Spillers – are trailing plants that cascade over the pot’s side. As they mature throughout the summer, they become fuller and add more interest to your planter. Spillers are also a pleasant contrast for both the fillers and thrillers.


wave petunia


Choose 2 to 4, depending on the space in the pot.


Tips for choosing plants

Determine how many planters you will want to build at one time. If you plan to put together several pots simultaneously, you will want to ensure that you have multiples of each plant to create a cohesive look between planters. Flats can be an economical way to purchase annuals in larger quantities and are a great way to mix and match your selections.


  • Pick a complementary colour scheme. Usually, two to four colours will work well.
  • Make sure to buy enough – error on the side of too many rather than not enough.
  • Choose plants with similar growing conditions – If the planter is in full or partial sun, try to choose plants that will thrive in this setting.
  • Try to choose plants that grow at the same rate – This will keep the planter balanced as it grows.
What you need for your summer planter




With the right tools, your planters will come together quickly. To be prepared, you will need:

  • Pots, pot insert, or planter – preferably with a drainage hole
  • Small rocks or gravel for drainage
  • Potting soil
  • Hand trowel
  • Gloves
  • Watering can or hose
  • And, of course – Plants!
Types of pots

Clay pots – are reasonably priced and come in a wide range of styles and sizes. These pots are constructed of porous clay, tend to be heavier and have a drainage hole in the bottom. As they are porous, your plants will dry out faster, and plants will need watering more frequently.

Fibre pot inserts – are made of biodegradable materials such as peat and paper. Fibre pot inserts will break down over time and tend to breathe like clay pots. These are perfect for inserting into decorative pots and planters, easy to remove and allow for a simple clean-up at the end of the season.

Plastic planters – come in various shapes, colours, and sizes. Plastic also tends to be lightweight and strong and can hold up in different weather conditions. Be aware that they also tend to be moisture-wicking which may mean that your plants may dry out quickly.

Wooden planters – add a nice rustic touch and can come in various shapes and sizes. They can wear somewhat quickly due to weather and watering. Do not plant anything edible unless you are sure the wood has not been treated with any chemicals.

Stone or concrete planters – are a unique patio or garden feature. They may be more expensive than clay or plastic planters, but they will last year after year with proper care. They will also make a statement in your garden but, once filled, can be heavy.

Steps to planting your summer planter

Here are the steps for planting a summer planter or watch one of our plant experts do it here on video.


Step 1: Gather your supplies – you will need a pot, soil, gloves, hand trowel, hose or watering can, and your plants


Step 2: Prepping your pot – if reusing a pot from last season, make sure it is clean from any debris. Planters need to have drainage, so ensure the drainage hole has been opened or created.


Step 3: Add rocks to the bottom of the planter – place 2 to 3 inches of stone at the bottom of the pot to assist with drainage.


Step 4: Add potting soil to the planter until approximately ¾ full. You will be topping up with more soil after the plants are added.


Step 5: Time to plant! 

  • Start with a single thriller in the centre of the planter to be seen from all angles.
  • Dig a hole in the centre of the pot that will be just slightly larger than the thriller plant root ball. Loosen the plant from the pot and remove it. Place the plant into the hole and gently press down. Add a bit of soil to ensure the roots are well covered and the plant is stable.
  • Proceed to add fillers strategically around the thriller to provide contrast. Repeat the planting process.
  • Finish with the spillers by adding where the bare spots are around the edge of the pot. Guide the plants over the edge to ensure they spill over the sides.


Step 6: Water generously



Tips for maintaining your planters all season

Keep your plants well-watered – Maintain a regular watering schedule every other day to keep your plants lush and healthy. In the scorching part of the summer, you may need to water every day, so keep an eye on your planter’s soil.


Fertilize regularly – Regularly feeding your planters will help bolster their growth. Every six weeks should be a good rule of thumb but check your fertilizer instructions to be sure.


Remove Deadheads when needed – this will help keep your plants looking healthy and help to foster new blooms.


Sheridan offers a wide selection of thrillers, spillers, and fillers to make the most creative planter creations.

Not that into DIY? Our garden centres have a beautiful selection of premade planters – or work with our custom design department to create something unique.


Visit any of our 8 locations for a wide selection of plants, pots, soil, and premade planters.