University of Illinois Extension
Plant Shape and Texture - Choosing and Combining Plants - Successful Container Gardens - University of Illinois Extension

Choosing and Combining Plants

Plant Shape and Texture

Variety in Plant Shapes

Winning container combinations often use three types of plant shapes:

  • Tall plants - Thrillers
  • Round, mounding plants - Fillers
  • Plant that hangs over the side - Spillers

These overall plant shapes vary in texture, size, shape, and color to create an endless variety of combinations.

Leaf Size, Shape, Texture

Experiment by putting different sizes, shapes and textures of leaves side by side. Texture usually refers to the overall size of the leaves so textural sizes are relative to one another. Grasses have narrow, fine textured leaves. Salvias have medium textured leaves. Large Hosta leaves are considered coarse textured. Texture can also refer to the smoothness or roughness on the surface each leaf. Contrasting size and surface textures provide drama when done well. Alternatively, repeating similar leaf sizes and textures may provide a soothing or harmonious look.

More Information on Choosing and Combining Plants