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Beyond Mums - Five Fall Plants for Container Gardens

Garden planters make great fall decorations


Mums and asters are all over the place in the fall, but there are lots of other plants that can look great. Here are five fall plants that can turn your garden planters into great fall decorations.

1. Heuchera

container garden picture of coral bells with gourd
Photo © Kerry Michaels

Coral bells also known as heuchera is one of my all time favorite container plants. Coral bells come in a mind-blowing assortment of colors and leaf textures and they are a very good-humored plant – almost impossible to kill. Some heuchera are happy in full sun, shade, or anything in between. Most are hardy down to -25 °F, and perennial in zones 4-9. They are mounding plants and look great on their own or paired with either contrasting plants or in shades of the same color.

Coral bells can look great with gourds, mums and ornamental grasses. Choose a dark almost black leaf, like 'Dolce, Licorice' or choose 'Dolce, Peach Melba' for terrific fall plant and works well with many fall decorations.

Coral bells with mums and ornamental grass

2. Verbena

container gardening picture of verbena, Lanai Peach
Photo © Kerry Michaels

Verbena is a prolific bloomer and will look good from spring well into fall. Many verbenas are hardy down to 15 °F and will continue flowering even after the first frost. They look great either on their own or filling in spaces and spilling over edges of garden planters, window boxes or hanging baskets.

Colors range from brilliant reds to deep, dark blue to purples and pinks. They are drought tolerant and only need an average amount of water. They do need good drainage and like most flowering annuals, verbenas need to be fed every couple of weeks. Though deadheading isn't necessary for most common varieties, your plant will look much better if cut it back when blooms fade.

Verbena with Creeping Jenny and Million Bells

3. Oxalis

container garden picture of rustic basket with fuchsia and "charmed wine," shamrock
Photo © Kerry Michaels
I love the look of oxalis. It is elegant and at the same time kind of cheerful. It is exceedingly easy to grow and likes partial shade of full shade. It is hardy to 15 °F, and is an annual except in zones 8-10. Oxalis is a mounding plant and grows to be 12-18 inches high, making it a good plant to use in filling out a container. It comes in several colors including a really dark, almost black, ‘Charmed Velvet,’ and my favorite, a burgundy color called ‘Charmed Wine.” Oxalis with Fuchsia in Rustic Basket

4. Decorative Cabbage and Kale

Container garden picture of flowering cabbage
Photo © Kerry Michaels

Decorative cabbages are delightfully chubby and cheerful plants, while the kales are all spiky and radical looking. However, both of these plants will take you well into fall with style and beautiful sagey greens with pinks and purples. As a bonus flowering cabbage and kales' colors only intensify as the weather gets colder especially after a frost.

I particularly love cabbages grouped together in either rustic garden planters or low baskets. They also can bring some great color and texture to mixed container gardens. Kales can look great in funky shallow baskets, window boxes or modern metal planters with clean lines. These are really bold plants, so don’t be afraid to put them in unusual containers or combine them with unlikely plants.

5. Sedum

Container garden picture of container with sedum, grass and rosemary
Photo © Kerry Michaels

Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a classic fall plant for container gardens because that’s when it looks its best. Blooming in late summer to early fall, sedum is easy to grow in containers, preferring good drainage and full sun, though most will tolerate some shade. Sedum is a particularly good choice of plant for a fall container that you want to leave out all winter, because the dried flowers can look beautiful, especially covered with snow or frost. Sedum is hardy to a whopping -40°F and is a perennial in zones 3-9.

Sedum can get pretty tall so it’s great to use in the center or back of a container.

Sedum with Lambs Ear, Sweet Potato Vine and Flowering Kale

6. Some Other Great Fall Plants for Container Gardens

container garden picture of grouping of fall container gardens
Photo © Kerry Michaels
These plants will also survive the cold with style and class.
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