What images come to mind when you think of fall? The brilliant color of changing leaves? Pumpkins and gourds? A bit of Halloween whimsy? Fall container gardening allows you to show off the best of the season with color and texture. Learn how you can create a fall container gardens that will make your home shine.
1. Choose your container
A great advantage of container gardening is that they are often smaller than summer gardens so they require less effort. When choosing your container you are only limited by your imagination. Consider a mobile planter such as a wheelbarrow or wagon that can be moved around to take advantage of sun on shorter fall days. An old birdbath that is cracked and no longer able to hold water can be re-purposed to hold a garden. A strawberry jar allows patches of color to pop out at different heights. A wine barrel has space for a larger garden. Of course, traditional window boxes and clay planters are always great options as well.
A hollowed out pumpkin makes a colorful and festive container. Choose both orange and white pumpkins for variety. Cut the top off of your pumpkin just as you would to create a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin (be sure to save the seeds for roasting). Drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the pumpkin, and it is ready for planting. Consider using a variety of pumpkin sizes to create visual interest.
Like the hollow pumpkin idea? Consider expanding your options by using the same techniques to create a planter out of squash such as an upright butternut squash.
Once you have your container you need to think about what to plant in it. The first rule is to choose plants that a tolerant of cooler temperatures.
Fall container gardening celebrates color. Make your garden light up with fiery red and orange marigolds. Yellow chrysanthemums shine when juxtaposed against purple kale. Green ferns and ivy add a hint of summery green. Pink and purple are often associated with spring or summer gardens, but by planting Pink Frost (a small anise tree) and Welch's Pink (Callicarpa americana) they can find a home in a fall garden as well.
Let a theme determine your color scheme. Fall is football season; plant flowers in your team's colors to show your spirit. Can't wait for the holidays? Try red berries nestled among white candytufts (Iberis) with green ivy flowing down.
Adding texture to your container garden takes it from so-so to so fabulous. Consider purple fountain grass for a soft, airy texture. Dried hydrangeas add an interesting texture as well as a round shape.
Succulents are great additions to fall gardens because they add both texture and color. The aptly named "Autumn Joy" is a sedum with blue-green oblong leaves and a dusty pink flower. (As an added bonus, bees and butterflies love this plant.) Hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum) is a succulent that covers the ground with texture. The sedum "Frosty Morn" evokes a touch of frost on its grey-green leaves. Go bold with Opuntia compressa which offers a fun yellow flower.
Collards and kale aren't only nutritious veggies, they're also great additions to add texture to your garden. They come in both edible and decorative varieties, so choose an edible variety if you enjoy munching on them.
Fall container gardening isn't limited to only plants. Add twigs for texture and height, and berries such as orange bittersweet for a bold color and smooth texture.
Height adds visual interest and structure to your garden. Make your garden stand above the rest by planting peacock kale, libertia, or cannas.
Don't forget lower plants such as violas, pansies, and petunias that can be planted in front of taller plants for color at a lower level.
5. Less maintenance, but not no-maintenance
Fall container gardening is wonderful because it requires less weeding and pruning than larger gardens, but that doesn't mean you can ignore it completely. Healthy soil grows healthy plants so amend the soil with compost. Container gardens--especially if they're densely planted--dry out quickly so remember to water regularly.
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picture of fall container garden via Shutterstock