Fresh Fall Container Gardens
Tub of color
Ornamental grasses bring handsome height to a metal laundry tub. 'Burgundy Giant' red fountaingrass provides a rusty backdrop for dark pink, daisylike 'Cecilia' chrysanthemum and cheerful Sundaze Golden Yellow strawflower. Petite blue fescue adds texture at the front of the vintage container.
Crazy for kale
One of fall’s healthiest veggies looks as good in a vase as it does on your plate. Group flowering kale with vibrant flowers for easy autumnal arrangements.
Find colorful kales at your local farmers market or flower shop. To grow in your garden: Plant them in moist, well-drained soil in full sun.
In our container at back, vibrant orange Ranunculus and pincushion flowers give white flowering kale a boost. In the smaller container, purple mini calla lilies blend with purple kale, while globe-shape yellow billy balls (Craspedia) provide happy accents.
Fall annuals typically are short, so try dried accents to add vertical drama. Here, peacock kale and mums fill the planter, while dried pampas grass and iris pods give the arrangement height and texture.
A mound of bold purple mums becomes the focal point among foliage in a wheelbarrow. In front of the mums, purple flowering kale blends with trailing bacopa. Spurge brings a hint of red to the far right and left corners. The purple-tinted leaves of bugleweed separate two clumps of spiky santolina. Fox-red curly sedge adds an airy note in back.
A weathered concrete birdbath elevates a spicy plant mix. 'Blushing Emily' chrysanthemum and wispy 'Pink Champagne' rubygrass bring bursts of cinnamon-red to green kale and yellow-green Golden Globes loosestrife. The dark foliage of red-centered Tiny Toes coleus and bronzy Dolce Crème Brulee coral bells round out the arrangement.
The proportions of this 2-foot-tall urn support the height of the purple fountaingrass, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'. Add more autumn color with red-leaf coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Sedona', upper left); the bronze-and-golden blooms of Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset', Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Terra Cotta' and 'Scarlet' pansies around the base. The brown grass Carex flagellifera 'Toffee Twist' fills out the right edge.
Beautiful containers can be as simple as one type of plant per pot. Group several one-plant pots for maximum impact. Here, pots of mums, pansies, burning bush and kalanchoe add bright fall color to the patio setting.
Tall plants such as cannas provide dramatic focal points in containers. This half wine barrel holds generously sized orange-blooming Tropicanna cannas, purple fountaingrass, firebush (Hamelia patens), lantanas and zinnias.
Burgundy and purple pair naturally and beautifully in fall containers. Inside this pot: 'Wine and Roses' weigela; Liriope muscari 'Silvery Sunproof', 'Longin' Russian sage, 'Thyra Viking' aster, Kong Scarlet coleus and 'Osaka' flowering cabbage. Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau' rounds out the scheme but is obscured in this photo.
Container to go
Wheelbarrows make creative containers for fall plants--with the added benefit that you can wheel them into the garage on cold fall nights. A red wheelbarrow accents tall red-leaf hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella 'Red Shield') and a host of other colorful plants: grasses leatherleaf sedge (Carex buchananii) and Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'; burgundy-leaf coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides); bright green basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Nufar Hybrid') and lettuce (Lactuca sativa 'Little Gem'); trailing Lysimachia nummularia 'Goldilocks'; and pumpkins, hedge apple and pansies (Viola x wittrockiana).
A bit of everything
Tuck a variety of annuals, perennials and grasses into an antique galvanized container. A swath of red-burgundy 'Helen' chrysanthemums anchors this arrangement, encircled by purple ornamental cabbage; Superbells Trailing Blue Calibrachoa hybrid; Goldilocks Lysimachia nummularia; 'Tricolor' sage (Salvia officinalis); and in the back, fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'). Make sure your container has good holes for drainage.
Texture and color
A splash from a fall aster and a purple-blue petunia is all the color this handsome container needs. The rest is done with texture. The crock uses 'Sungal' aster, 'Shenandoah' switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), donkeytail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites), purple petunias and tricolor sage.
Pair similar containers of varying heights to add visual interest. Both containers feature 'Orange Symphony' osteospermum hybrids and blue leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). The large pot also includes 'Ace of Spades' sweet potato vine, Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant' and purple fountaingrass. The small container adds purple 'Plum Pudding' coralbells and Carex flagellifera 'Toffee Twist'.
Pink Chrysanthemum and yellow strawflower (Helichrysum bracteantha) add bright color to a pair of ornamental grasses in this container, which would make a big statement at an entrance or in a blank spot in the garden. Small blue fescue (Festuca glauca) provides a burst of cool color and helps draw the eye up to red fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Burgundy Giant').
You can enjoy the beauty of a frosty morning--knowing it won't harm your container garden--with this simple grouping of hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum), Ajuga reptans 'Mahogany', and flowering kale. All three plants take the autumn chill with ease.
Simple and soothing
This easy container features a rugged dwarf hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and a pair of lavender violas (Viola spp.) for a soothing look. A mulch of coarse stones accented by one larger stone helps create a natural scene in miniature.
This vivid container features bold Aster 'Purple Dome' and flowering kale, creating a festive feel with bright colors. The arching lines of variegated sedge (Carex hachijoensis) offer a striking complement.
Silvery thread-leaf licorice plant (Helichrysum 'Icicles') and a galvanized bucket contrast with bright yellow pansies to make a dramatic statement. Ivy (Hedera helix) flows over the container edge.
Ruffly 'Redbor' kale, a variety that grows darker with each frost, pairs nicely with a petal-filled pink Chrysanthemum. Silver dusty miller, with its fine-texture foliage, gracefully finishes the picture.
Harvest hues come naturally in this pairing of a terra-cotta pot with plants that reflect the container's reddish color. Purplish-red Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) anchors the grouping along with green-and-russet coleus (Solenostemon 'Ulrich'). Orange mum (Chrysanthemum 'Festive Ursula') and green-leaf Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Efanthia' provide accents.
Fall window box
A potting shed window box overflows with golden yarrow, green asparagus ferns and dried hydrangeas, plus vinca and Swedish ivy.
A willow chair serves as a rustic container for a mixture of dried hydrangeas, pumpkins and potted plants that include geraniums, Swedish ivy, dusty miller, petunia and 'Tricolor' sweet potato vines.
More fall gardening ideas
Click below for more Midwest fall gardening ideas and tips.