12 Best Plants for a Spillover Effect


When starting a container garden, your focus may be on the eye-catching, tall thriller flowers. However, these aren’t the only important blooms you need in your containers.

Choosing the right “spiller” plants, which will grow over the side of your containers, can help soften the edges, creating a more professional and finished look to your mini garden.

Keep reading to learn about the best plants to achieve that cascading, spillover effect you are looking for.

1. Zinnia Angustifolia


If you are searching for spillover flowers that are also heat tolerant and come in bold colors, you can’t go wrong with zinnias. The “crystal” cultivar series of the zinnia angustifolia (also known as narrowleaf) is especially nice for your first garden. These are slower to spread and produce copious amounts of blooms.

Even better, they are resistant to powdery mildew, which is a common problem for other plants once they start pouring out of containers.

2. Convolvulus Sabatius


Considered a “delightful” spillover plant, you will love the lilac-blue trumpet-shaped flowers it produces.

Just keep in mind, this plant needs plenty of sun to grow and thrive, so be sure you place the container in a sunny corner of your porch or pergola. Otherwise, you may never witness the blooms it is known for.

3. Wave Petunias


The wave petunia is a plant that offers a bit of a unique look and appeal. This variety is superior to traditional petunias, which are easily damaged by heavy rains and require constant deadheading and pinching to flourish.

With wave petunias, you have a plant that spreads down and out, and it will flower without much effort or time throughout the summer season.

4. Black-Eyed Susan Vine


This vine is much more refined than the Rudbeckia, which is another common spillover plant used in container gardens.

The black-eyed Susan produces a small, five-petal flower. It comes in white, peach, or yellow and will grow in clusters, finding its way under, over, and through any other plants you put in your containers. It’s a great “filler” plant, and as it grows, it will start to spill over, giving you a cascading look most gardeners desire.

5. Bacopa


Also called Sutera cordata, Bacopa have tiny flowers in mauve, pink, or white, and trailing stems. These will grow and appear through the summer and sometimes beyond.

It is considered a compact grower and will stay relatively in place when you put it in your container. The plant will also grow well in both light shade and sun. If you are looking for an edging plant for a bigger pot, Bacopa is a great option.

6. Madagascar Periwinkle


Vinca plants, which is the class that Madagascar periwinkle falls into, are commonly used as a source of flowering ground cover. This makes it only natural to use this plant to trail over the sides of your containers.

If your goal is to have a plant that blooms throughout the season, be sure to choose Madagascar periwinkle instead of the Vinca minor, which will only bloom during the spring months.

7. Ivy Geraniums


One of the most popular container plants used today is ivy geraniums. The ivy form has much smaller flowers; however, it blooms just as much as the upright version of this plant. As the ivy geranium grows, it will begin to spill over the container’s edge. Like its vertical relative, it will survive in shorter periods of intense heat and can even outlast some drought conditions.

8. Golden Creeping Jenny


Golden Creeping Jenny is a type of low-growing training plant that produces golden-green leaves. It is a fast grower and looks amazing, cascading out of pots or even over nearby rocks or hardscape elements in your yard. You can plant it in the shade or sun, but make sure it stays well-watered during the hotter times of the year.

9. Verbena


You can find several varieties of verbena; however, it is the perennials that provide you the most “bang for your buck.” These will bloom in the first year they are planted, and chances are, you will have a lot more blooms than you expect.

While this is a perennial, they are still short-lived compared to most. That’s because they use a lot of energy to flower. This is also a plant that is incredibly tolerant to the heat if you keep it well-watered.

10. Licorice Plant


This plant is grown most often for the small and felt-like leaves it produces. The type that most people are familiar with is soft gray; however, there are several variegated varieties, too.

The stems will grow up and then fall, which creates a lovely backdrop and frame for all the other plants you put in your container.

11. Scaevola


More commonly called the fan flower, Scaevola is native to Australia and found as a groundcover. As it grows, small blooms in purple, blue, and mauve will appear.

It blooms from time to time between spring and fall and will grow best in full sun. Also, it needs well-drained soil and plenty of water when the weather is dry.

12. Nasturtium


This plant creates a nice little mound of lily-pad-like leaves, along with bright and cheery flowers. While it prefers the cooler seasons, it will bloom throughout the season and sometimes beyond if you keep it well-watered.

Even more impressive is that the entire plant can be eaten, which includes the seeds. Talk about versatility; this plant offers a little bit of everything.

Finding the Right Spillover Plants for Your Container Garden

If you are creating a container garden, using the right plants is a must. The ones on this list give you an idea of some of the best spillover plants you can add to your containers to create that messy yet beautiful look.

Regardless of whether you put your containers on a window ledge, on your patio, or the porch, you are bound to love the way it looks with the additions mentioned above.