10 Garden Filler Plants
Colorful plants that offer sweeping swathes of color are wonderful additions to landscapes. As I well know, filling those large spaces - I have a 60 foot by 8-foot bed where I fill in lots of space with annuals - can get expensive. I love how annuals provide constant, all-summer color and flexibility to change my color scheme. I also enjoy a good deal which is why I often choose fast-growing, wide-spreading annuals that I can depend on to fill the border with color. Here are some of my favorites for adding lots of color with not that many plants.
When we think of color in our gardens, flowers are most likely our first thought, but colorful foliage is another awesome way to fill landscape beds. Foliage color is constant and you don't have to worry that plants might go out of flower. Sweet Carolines come in red, purple-black and chartreuse and a variety of foliage shapes. Regular Sweet Carolines have deeply lobed leaves. Sweet Caroline Sweethearts have heart-shaped leaves and the Sweet Caroline Bewitched varieties have pointed, maple-leaf shaped foliage with lots of texture. Our newest introduction is Sweet Caroline Red Hawk®. New leaves open chartreuse and then turn bronze to deep red.
6-16” tall, Up to 3 feet wide. Sun and shade.
Caladiums are another great foliage option. Traditionally caladiums are shade plants but, our Heart to Heart® series includes options for both sun and shade. Be sure to check your plant tags, they will note the exposure each caladium does best in. They are versatile, easily fill borders in the landscape, create gorgeous patio planters and are perfect as a thriller in container recipes. It’s a diverse set of 20 different colors including the first violet and sun tolerant white. These tropical plants are grown from bulbs and can also be bought as plants. Pictured above is Heart to Heart® 'Scarlet Flame'.
15-20” tall, up to 16” wide. Sun/shade and shade options.
I love plants that have multiple traits to recommend them. This duo are not just fast-growing fillers, they are heat tolerant and pollinators adore them. The plants feature either scarlet-red flowers with yellow tips or sunny yellow flowers. They flower continuously all summer long without deadheading. I've never been near these plants in bloom without seeing a bevy of bees.
12-24” tall, Up to 3 feet wide. Part sun to sun.
Mounds of airy white flowers look delicate but the plants are actually tough as nails. Plant these beauties, give them just a bit of water and plant food and they will pump out loads of flowers. The small plants you buy in spring will grow rapidly, quickly becoming 3 foot by 3-foot clouds.
24-36” tall. Up to 3 feet wide. Part sun to sun.
Supertunias are one of our most popular groups of plants. However, the Supertunia Mini Vista subset is less well-known – which is a crying shame because they are fantastic performers. These mounded plants come in 7 colors and feature abundant petite flowers that completely bury the foliage. As with all of our Supertunias, they do not need to be deadheaded. They will spread like crazy and fill in quickly all while attracting pollinators. The photo above features Supertunia Mini Vista Indigo, Supertunia Mini Vista White and Supertunia Mini Vista Violet Star, with Graceful Grasses® 'Sky Rocket' Pennisetum in the background. I'd take that combo in my garden any day!
6-12” tall. 18-24” wide. Part sun to sun.
Supertunia Vistas are Supertunia Mini Vistas big sister. Compared to Mini Vista, the Vistas mound up to 2 feet tall, I’ve had a single plant get more than 5 feet wide and flowers are about twice the size of a Mini Vista. If you are looking for a beautiful plant to fill the landscape it’s tough to beat a vista! They come in 5 colors in shades of pink and white – from Fuchsia to Snowdrift which is new this year.
6-12” tall, 18-24” wide. Part sun to sun.
Often texture is the unsung hero of good garden design and Silver Bullet has texture in spades. The silvery-white foliage is eye-catching enough, but the furry look of the leaf surface combined with the deeply lobed foliage adds a whole new dimension. This plant is a bit of a beast – in a really good way. It’s a big, vigorous and fast-growing plant that will be an excellent addition to sunny borders.
6-10” tall. 12-30” wide. Sun.
Snow Princess is a plant that changed everything I thought I knew about Sweet Alyssum. Unlike earlier types of alyssum, Snow Princess is very vigorous, it is truly heat tolerant (it blooms prolifically all summer in my Missouri garden) and is a great performer in landscapes. The group now includes 2 whites, a lavender and a purple version. The extra added bonus is these plants are incredibly fragrant and popular with pollinators.
10-16” tall. 24-48” wide. Part sun to Sun.
I’ve always loved the heat tolerance, drought tolerance, all-around toughness and bright jewel-toned colors of Portulaca. Their one drawback was their flower coverage was on the sparse side – especially when compared to a Supertunia which tends to be buried in flowers. Well, things have improved to the point that our Mojaves are full of color and a wonderful pollinator plant. You won't be disappointed if you include these tough and colorful annuals in your garden. Available in four colors.
4-8” tall. 12-16” wide. Sun.
Superbenas come in a wide range of colors including shades of red, white, salmon, pink and purple – a total of 18 different options. It is a cornucopia of color to use in your garden. Superbenas are vigorous, spreading plants with large flower clusters. They are fantastic additions to borders and beds where they are sure to attract butterflies. In addition to being wonderful landscape plants, they are a great spiller in patio planters and hanging baskets.
6-12” tall. 18-30” wide. Part sun to Sun
Want to learn more?
Explore our Pinterest board on Layered Landscapes.
Learn how to use texture in your garden in this article.
See great foliage plants for shade.