by William Lundie on September 22, 2011
As summer gives way to fall, it’s time to think about new flowers for your containers and beds. The cooler weather may limit your choices in some areas, but there are still plenty of plants and flowers to brighten up your porch or planter.
Here are some colorful ideas to brighten your fall flower containers:
You don’t have to change seasons all at once. If some of your summer flowers are still thriving, leave them in place; then tuck in a few mums, asters, or brightly colored gourds to extend the color for another month or two. Once everything is spent, you can replace your container with a cold weather alternative.
Pansies, violas, and snapdragons are favorite annuals for the fall garden; and hardier varieties might even hang on through the winter and get a second wind in early spring. They’re often mixed with shorter-blooming perennials such as chrysanthemums, asters, heather, and anemones. When choosing flowers for containers, look for ones that are hardy to a planting zone or two colder than yours, since the soil in containers is colder than ground soil.
In colder weather, supplement your containers with bold textures such as dramatic foliage, berry producing plants, fuzzy leaves, gourds, pine cones, and even twigs and boughs to give your containers an interesting shape.
Lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and chard do great in cool – even lightly frosty – weather. Plant a variety of multicolored greens for a splash of color that’s also edible, and be sure to locate it near the door for easy picking!
Ornamental cabbages don’t have the flavor of their garden counterparts, but many of them can tolerate downright cold weather. A collection of ornamental cabbages can get your containers through much of the winter, and the lacy leaves are lovely when edged with frost.
Seed pods are also great additions to cold weather planters, adding interest, shape, and color without the worry – and they attract birds, too! Summer ornamental grasses often give way to lovely seed heads if you don’t cut them back, or you can pick seed pods and simply tuck them in among your flowers.
Many cool weather flowers, such as pansies, are low growing and delicate. Use small evergreen plants and shrubs – such as rosemary, lavender, boxwood, ivy, or dwarf conifers – to add structure, texture, and height.
When planting your containers in fall, you can also add in some spring bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, for an effortless burst of color in early spring.
For fall color without the fuss, consider looking for preplanted containers to drop down inside your larger planters. If the flowers die back in the cold, it’ll be easy to remove the inner pot and store the planter away until spring.