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Atlanta commercial property landscape plantsA beautiful annual display comes from having dynamic material with multiple foliage types and bloom patterns. Once all these are met, there are still three key components to the annual display: thriller, filler and spiller.

Here’s a look at what defines each type of plant — and a few of our favorite examples of each.

Landscape Component #1: Thriller

A thriller is also known as a centerpiece plant. This is something that is planted in a larger size and limited quantity to bring height and structure to your Atlanta commercial landscape design. The thriller can be any height, depending on the necessary visibility (sign lettering, pertinent information or an intersection).

In the Atlanta area, there are two thrillers that outperform the rest.
Elephant Ears: These tropical plants are available in varying sizes — up to 6 feet tall — and lend a fun look to your design. They also range in varieties that are available in multiple looks from black to chartreuse green to a mix.

Ornamental grasses: A drought-tolerant option, ornamental grasses come in a multitude of varieties to suit your design vision and will “wow” any passerby. They range in height from a foot tall to 5 feet, making them great for annual beds or dramatic container plantings.

Landscape Component #2: Filler

Atlanta commercial landscape plantsFlowering plants are usually your design’s “filler.” This should be an ever-blooming variety that adds a pop of color to the area. Fillers are an anchor to the area that ties the spiller and the thriller together to make a unified design. Any variety can be a filler, but here are a few of my favorites that really thrive in Atlanta’s climate in a commercial property landscape.

Lantana: This flower comes in many colors, but the best performers are the yellow, multicolored and reddish varieties. Lantana thrives in extreme conditions: drought and intense, full sun are no match for its sunny colors! While it does not cover completely with blooms, it makes up for it in the tufts of flowers throughout the season.

Salvia: This plant also thrives in areas with little irrigation and full sun. Salvia has an upright growth habit and comes in purple, white, red and blue. The blue variety can add a high-impact pop to properties since it is a color usually saved for fall plants —rarely seen in spring.

Begonia: They bloom all season and thrive in a variety of sun and watering conditions. Begonias need a bit more irrigation to thrive than lantana and salvia, but they’re a great choice for irrigated beds. Begonia varieties with a bronze and green leaf offer foliage as well as flower contrast. Their blooms can be red, rose, pink or white. Begonias are prolific bloomers that create a great base to build on — they can even be the bulk of your plant material, as long as you create an interesting, high-contrast layout.

Coleus: This plant offers beautiful height and foliage interest. Coleus doesn’t flower, but its foliage comes in a variety of interesting colors, shapes, and designs. Coleus creates a backdrop for other thrillers in areas where more height can be used without obstructing a sign or view. It creates interest with its unique look and all-season consistency.

Caladium: Like coleus, this is a foliage-only plant. Caladium doesn’t flower, but its impact in a design is undeniable. This plant is a very tropical style and mirrors Elephant Ear’s leaf shape, but with a 26-inch height.

Petunia: This classic annual flower has graceful flowers and soft foliage. Petunias are low growing and add a huge splash of color to your annual beds. Petunias most commonly come in deep purple, white, rose and pink. This is a great plant to use in a bed when increasing the height as a medium level plant.

Landscape Component #3: Spiller

The “spiller” is the element of the design that finishes it off and gives is a polished look. The spiller can either be a cascading plant or something that stays tight and compact to make the bed look and feel like a finished product. The spiller is crucial to any seasonal color design.

Sweet potato vine: My favorite spiller for pots is ipomoea, sweet potato vine, which cascades over the edge of pots and planters. It softens the edge of the container and makes it look even fuller and more dramatic. This plant most frequently is grown as a chartreuse green or a deep purple color. The two colors can be mixed in large planters.

Duranta: This is the perfect spiller for bed plantings. Duranta is a chartreuse-green color that complements turf, sidewalks, straw and all flowering plants. Duranta creates a blanket of bright green that automatically draws the eye to it. This plant stays compact and tight and makes the bed look full and uniform.

How Will You Design Your Atlanta Commercial Landscape?

Creating a high-impact landscape on your Atlanta commercial property requires a solid design that incorporates plants from all three of these categories. If you’re looking for a knowledgeable landscape designer to help you put your inspiration to work, we’d love to help.

Call the commercial landscape design professionals at HighGrove Partners to schedule your free consultation and start planning — or updating — your commercial landscape. Give us a call at 678-298-0550, or use the contact form to the right.

And for more inspiring design insights, subscribe to HighGrove’s blog.

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Last modified: February 25, 2014