I’m a huge fan of fall container gardens and while asters and mums are classics, and can look fantastic in the right containers, there are also lots of perennials in nurseries at this time of year that not only look amazing, they are often on sale. As a bonus, you can over winter them and use them in your containers or your perennial beds next year.
One of my favorites for fall containers (or for any time of year for that matter) is heuchera or coral bells. They come in a huge array of colors and scoff at cold weather – many are hardy to –25 °F. I’m also a sucker for the silvery sheen and furry texture of large leafed lambs ear – also a plant that looks good through the fall and well into winter. The frosty color and cool texture of dusty miller can also look great, either as contrast to a darker plant or even on its own. Consider adding hens and chicks to fall planters, either alone in a shallow pot, or as a top-dressing – they also look fabulous well into winter. I especially love how hens and chicks look after a frost – their edges outlined in ice.
Decorative kales and cabbages are kind of the punk rockers of the plant world, with their wild and spiky textures, cool hues and otherworldly forms. You’ve got to love plants whose colors intensify as the temperatures drop - making cold weather actually look attractive. They pair beautifully with grasses and sedums.
Fall is also a great time to grow some edibles. Plant up baskets with greens – arugula, spinach, kale or mesclun for beautiful and tasty container gardens. You can easily protect those greens from the frost with cloches or plastic boxes and to have fresh veggies even after the snow flies.
Try using unusual containers for fall. Hollow out pumpkins or gourds and pop a plant into the opening for a great (although short term) planter. Or take the easy way out and cheat - I take several plants, leave them right in their nursery pots, and combine them in large containers. You can add some small gourds or pumpkins to conceal the pots.
Fall is a great time to experiment and have fun.