Container Gardening

Fall Container Planting Ideas for Your Garden

By Marianne Binetti


Lamium: Low growing and semi evergreen, perennial lamiums are often used as woodland groundcovers but this sparkling silver foliage plant will light up your autumn containers especially if your pots are kept in an area that receives little sunshine. The leaves of lamium ‘Ghost’ are almost white, and they contrast well with the deep purple blooms that will pop up on the plant in the spring. Lamiums are perfect for using around the edge or in the front of a fall container design as the foliage will spill over the sides in a restrained manner that gives a bountiful look to any pot of plant material.

Tip: You can shear back potted lamiums in the spring and enjoy them in mixed container gardens during the summer months. After a full year, transplant your potted lamiums to the landscape where they can be used as a groundcover that will block out weeds in shaded areas. Lamium may overtake a bed if given lots of moisture and great soil. They behave best in dry shade.

Fall Magic for Container Gardens: Take advantage of the autumn bounty in your landscape to perk up your summer weary containers. Here are some ideas for magical makeovers that don’t involve buying new plants for your fall containers:

Add cut stems of hydrangeas to your pots: The blooms on big leaf hydrangea shrubs, such as the ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas, usually have a leathery or dry feel to them by September and this means they can be harvested from the shrub and the cut end poked into the moist soil of a container garden. Keep these cut flowers out of the full sun and they will last for a month or more and fill your containers with bodacious blooms. Dry hydrangeas can also be used to fill up hanging baskets. Pee Gee hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) also dry on the bush in early autumn, but this variety needs a bit of water to last as a cut flower poked into container garden. You can use water tubes (available from a florist or craft store) or sink a plastic cup filled with water into the potting soil of a container garden. Insert the cut stems of your pee gee hydrangeas into water immediately after you cut them from your shrubs. Providing just a few inches of water for cut hydrangeas will help them to dry gradually and keep their blooms in an upright manner.

Tip: Don’t prune back an entire hydrangea shrub in the fall as this could stimulate new growth before winter. Instead clip off some of the blooms with a stem 8 to 10 inches long for poking into moist potting soil or a few inches of water. Don’t have a container garden to fill with hydrangeas? Fill a basket, metal bucket, or metal watering can with dried hydrangeas instead.

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