Out with the old: Fall can be a second spring if you refresh and renew and your summer container gardens. Here are some classic autumn bloomers that you can use to replace summer weary annuals and bedding plants. Once your petunias are looking leggy, your marigolds seedy, and your coleus are nipped by cooler nights; these plants will keep pots looking perky:
Winter Pansies: Look for pansy plants with smaller blooms, if you want pansies that are most weather resistant. In mild winter climates you can plant pansies in the fall and enjoy the flowers all winter and into the summer months as well. In cold winter climates place your pots containing pansies close to the house where they will protected from freezing temperatures for as long as possible. You can also combine pansy plants with pumpkins to display in autumn containers. The variety “Jolly Joker” is a pansy with bright orange and purple petals that looks great in a container that uses mini orange pumpkins as an accent.
Tip: Keep removing the faded flowers from your pansy plants to insure continuous blooms.
Anemone, Japanese Windflowers: A fall blooming perennial with spreading roots, this winter hardy plant will fill a container with months of fall and autumn blooms, and keeping the roots contained in a pot will prevent this ambitious plant from spreading into other beds. The daisy like blooms are held high on tall stems so you can use this plant in the center or in the back of a container and add lower growing fall color such as heucheras or pansies at the base. Anemones do well in the shade so they are a good choice for containers that may be under a porch or roof overhang that get little sunshine. The classic white Japanese Windflower called ‘Honorine Jobert’ may grow to four feet tall so unless you have a very large container, use the more compact varieties such as the pink blooming ‘Pretty lady Diana’ that blooms on stems under two feet tall.
Tip: After growing for a few years in a container move your Japanese Windflower plant into the garden or the hefty root system may break apart your pot. This tough perennial is perfect for growing under trees in dry shade where the poor soil will help to keep the rampant growth in check.
Heuchera, Coral Bells: It’s all about the leaf with this compact, mounding perennial and filling fall container gardens with the bright foliage of heucheras plants will provide color all autumn and through the winter months. Related to native coral flower plants, some heucheras varieties can handle winter temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees. The variegated creamy white and green leaves of Heuchera ‘Snow Angel’ adds a touch of pink to the foliage in cooler weather and the deep ruby leaves of Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ look almost black to provide a beautiful contrast to silver or golden foliage plants such as the lamiums that might also share a container for fall and winter color.
Tip: There is an explosion of new heucheras varieties in a rainbow of colors now available. To make the most of your container design place a solid color heuchera, such as the lime green ‘Lime Marmalade,’ next to the busy foliage of the purple and green ‘Marvelous Marble’. Pairing up solid colors with richly veined or variegated leaves is a design tip that keeps the foliage colors from fighting for attention.