Summer may be most gardeners’ season of glory, but there are many who anticipate autumn’s arrival with glee. The cooler weather inspires them to give tired containers a new lease on life. Bille Howe, former Creative Director at Cactus & Tropicals, is among the fans of fall. “Don’t let autumn’s arrival be the end of beautiful outdoor planters,” he says. “All you have to do is change out a few components and your pots can be spectacular well into the season.” And as Howe points out, there are many plants, some brilliant bloomers and others prized for fabulous foliage, which flourish in cooler weather.
Container gardening has always provided a low-maintenance way to garden, requiring less watering, weeding and planting than traditional flowerbeds, and autumn’s cooler weather makes caring for pots even easier. “Fall pots need less care because they need less frequent watering, less fertilizing and less demanding sun and shade requirements,” says Howe. But because fall container plants don’t fill out and grow extensively over the season like their summer counterparts do, choosing and potting these plants requires a different approach. “You want to select large plants and place them very close together to instantly create a mature look,” says Howe. “The season doesn’t provide a period of growth for most fall fillers.” Howe has a number of favorite cool-weather container plants including cabbage, kale, mums and pansies. For this pro, however, these aren’t the only way to add a punch of color to a pot. “Integrate small pumpkins and gourds into the pots for a great shot of texture, form and color.” he says.
FALL POT-FILLING FAVORITES
Select any of these cold-loving plants to prolong the beauty of your outdoor pots. Check the hardiness of each for your growing zone.
Compact, low-growing annual with overlapping petals in a variety of bright colors and bi-color combinations.
Like sun, but do fine in partial shade (get spindly in deep shade); in colder areas, most stop blooming after hard frost or heavy snow; most live through the winter to rebloom in spring.
- Ornamental Cabbage and Kale
Look similar to their edible cousins featuring a range of colors—from whites and purples, turquoises to pinks. Kales grow more upright with ruffled edges and cabbages are shorter with smoother leaves.
Thrive with cooler temps, a sunny location and moderately moist, rich soil. Light frosts will intensify their colors.
Flowering perennial available in many colors; mounding bush-like growth.
Require sun, but will tolerate light morning shade. Too much water will stifle flowering; blooms throughout fall until hard frost; will survive through winter if properly maintained.
Trailing evergreen perennial with green leaves; leaf size varies dramatically by variety; also available variegated with white or yellow.
Prefer partial sun to shade; foliage of most varieties lasts year-round, although fare better in warmer areas, solid color varieties winter better in cooler areas than variegated ones.
- Hypericum (St. John’s Wort)
Perennial and semi-deciduous; available in varieties from creeping to shrub-like; yellow blooms appear in late spring to early summer and turn into brightly colored berries (red, orange, salmon pink, or shiny black).
Require full sun; foliage drops in fall, but berries last from September through winter; in warmer areas, plant is semi-evergreen.
You can find more fall gardening tips here!