Fall container gardens are a symbol of everything we feel as autumn sets in. The warm colors of seasonal plants take the chill out of the air and are the perfect complement to the changes in nature happening around us. As you begin to settle in for the winter to come, we share our fall garden favorites for creating stunning porch planters and cozy home accents.
This iconic fall favorite naturally makes the top of our list. Loved for their versatility, these traditional autumn bloomers are a sure signal of the transition from summer to fall in the garden. Think about the overall color palette for your container and choose a mum color that will serve as your thriller and anchor the design. Look for plants with lots of buds and ideally, not yet bloomed. The fall season is short, so we recommend always going for the biggest container of mums to fill at least 1/3, if not 1/2 of the container. Ask our pros about the variety you purchase, most are sold as annuals here in the Northeast and will not winter over.
2. Ornamental Kale & Cabbage
A relative of edible cabbage and kale, these plants look a lot like the ones we eat, but are grown purely as ornamental in the garden. A cool weather loving plant, their colors get richer as temps drop, making them a perfect choice for a spiller in outdoor containers this time of year. With crinkled leaves, ruffled edges, and rosettes saturated in blue-greens, purples, pinks and whites, the only problem we have with these plants is choosing a favorite! You’ll find them in a variety of colors and textures here in our garden center. As a frost tolerant annual, they have been known to survive right into November or December here.
3. Coral Bells
Coral Bells are a great option as a foliage filler for your recipe, and they’re available in a number of varieties here. With choices like Cinnabar Silver, Forever Red, Lemon Supreme, Silver Scrolls, Palace Purple, you’re sure to find the perfect complement to your recipe. As perennials, Coral Bells can be planted in the ground while soil is still warm, usually right up until it October. They prefer partial shade, but will take more sun in the cooler weather, so they work great in late season planters.
Sedum is another perennial that will do double duty as a cold tolerant option that can later be planted in the
ground. Upright varieties like Autumn Joy or Neon Stonecrop are best planted near the center of your pot as a thriller. Ground cover sedum like Dragon’s Blood or Little Miss Sunshine are better spillers to be placed near the outside edge of containers.
We like to incorporate some annual grasses for height, textural interest and movement. The leaves of Purple Fountain Grass are a rich plum color, and become a darker red in the fall, with fluffy red and tan plumes that wave above the foliage. Another go to is Red Rooster Sedge for it’s earthy copper-bronze leaf color with showy red variegation.
If you’re short on time or don’t want to venture out, you can order a pre-made Fall Container Garden or Bushel Basket Mums online for local delivery to your door or pick-up here at the Garden Center. For more fall plant ideas, visit our Plant Finder and search by season.
My Pro Tip:
This is the last big garden show, so I always go big to stretch out the season. Create multiple containers and place them around the property to maintain bright color and interest as garden beds begin to die back for winter. I like the tried and true favorites, but have been known to get creative with uncommon or unexpected container plants like Rudbeckia and Ornamental Peppers. For larger containers, try Dwarf Alberta Spruce and then later transition it to a holiday container. Add pumpkins and gourds to make your seasonal theme complete and try a solar lantern or fairy lights to cast your work in a flattering evening glow.
Most of all, have fun and savor the rest of the season.
See you at Studley’s!