Go Big or Go HomeMake a giant splash around your deck or patio by packing a large tub or planter with an oversized mix of colorful plants. Here, a red-leafed banana provides back-up color to an eye-popping combination of ornamental cabbage and white lantana. When freezing temperatures arrive just pop out the banana and move it to a sunny spot indoors for the winter.
Enjoy Summer in the FallJust because the weather is beginning to get cooler, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your summer annuals. Take impatiens, for example; it’s a tropical bloomer that often puts on a dramatic flush of colorful flowers in the fall, even as nightly temperatures begin to cool. Here, it’s combined with flowering cabbages that will eventually grow larger, filling the pot after the impatiens finally die back after first frost.
Keep Dahlias in MindAs you plan your fall containers, put large-flowered dahlias on your shopping list. These big beauties often don’t bloom full-throttle until August or September, so they are ideal for fall containers. This photo was taken in late September in Minnesota, and you can see that this gorgeous pink-and-white dahlia is just getting ready to burst into bloom. A mass of burgundy coleus sets the stage for the dahlia show.
Pair Complementary Colors and ShapesWhen you’re shopping for container plants, look for varieties that complement each other in color and form. It’s easy to do. Just use your shopping cart at the garden center to mix and match varieties to see what works. Use your cart as an artist uses his or her palette. Then, when you get home, all you need to do is pop the plants into your containers. Here, for example, a rust-colored coleus with a slight purple blush blends perfectly with the greenish-purple leaves of kale. As a bonus, both plants have leaves with frilly serrated edges that adds an extra element of interest.
Eat What You GrowAs handsome as it is tasty, lance-leaved kale makes an outstanding companion for fall containers. Its tall, edible, blue-green foliage contrasts beautifully with brightly colored annuals, especially those with blue, yellow, or pink blooms. Plus, the leaves taste even better after the first frost. Here, a spectacular clump of kale plays the role of “thriller” in a large container while bright yellow marigolds act as “filler” and white portulaca are the “spiller” plants that trail over the edge of the pot.
Rely on MumsNo fall container is complete without mums. These reliable, autumn-flowering perennials are a snap to grow, too. Just wait until ready-to-bloom plants show up at your local garden center and tuck them in all around your garden. Mums come in a host of colors and bloom types so you won’t have any trouble finding ones that match your outdoor décor. In this big clay pot, orange mums are the perfect complement to pink-flowering sedum, flowering cabbage, and yellow pansies with russet highlights. Add small gourds or pumpkins for autumnal flair.
Be CreativeThere aren’t any rules when it comes to container gardening. Sure, you can’t grow shade and sun-loving plants together, but otherwise, the sky’s the limit. So go a little crazy and try some new and different combinations. For example, this pot teams three unexpected choices for an unforgettable combination. Tall, lance-leaved kale, Fiber Optic grass, and Bonfire begonia are unlikely pot mates that create magic together.
Choose Autumnal ColorsCelebrate the season by selecting plants with fall coloration. In this container rusty-rose colored coleus is teamed with the cool bluish-purple foliage of kale. Both of these plants perform in full sun or partial shade and although the coleus will die after the first frost, you can extend its season by covering the pot with a sheet during frosty nights. Other autumnal-colored options include: mum, aster, croton, dusty miller, ornamental grass, heuchera, ajuga, sedum, ornamental pepper, osteospermum, and pansy.