Container Gardening

Transitioning to Fall with Containers

By Sarah Marcheschi

It may be unusual for a gardener, but since we’re among friends, I’ll admit it: Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the chill in the air, the vibrant trees, the wood smoke curling out of chimneys. No sooner does the calendar turn to September 1st than I start planning and plotting for hay bales and mums, pumpkins and overwrought (and overpriced) lattes. For me, these signs start the transition to fall.

But what to do when the weather doesn’t cooperate? Another month with temps in the eighties (and sometimes nineties!) doesn’t much inspire one to set out the scarecrows and ornamental kale. And it seems a shame to toss my pots full of coleusand creeping Jennywhen they’re still putting on such a great show.

My solution? In recent years I’ve begun to slowly transition my plantings. Now, instead of tearing everything out and overhauling all of my containers at once, starting in early September I begin to pull out only the annuals that are past their prime, and leave everything else in place. This is also a good strategy for those who prefer to bid summer a long, slow, farewell. That means, out go the leggy angeloniasand impatienswith faded leaves and blossoms, in go the cool season annuals that will stay in place through the rest of the fall season.


Keep reading for tips on seamlessly starting the transition to fall with containers

One of the keys to successful container planting is making sure the end results look lush and full, without being too crowded. It can be tricky to gauge this in spring when your plants are still small and you have to imagine how everything will come together once the empty spaces fill in.

Designing your pots at the end of the summer is much simpler! Whichever plants you decide to keep in your containers for the next month or so, (marigolds, waxed begonias, alyssum, as well as trailing vines- ivy, creeping jenny, vinca vine, etc.), have already grown up. It becomes easy to see how much space you have to work with after you remove the spent annuals. When you create your containers next spring, keep this moment in mind, and choose plants that will be a nice complement to your warm weather flowers, but will also serve as good transitional plants for early fall.

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