Beginner's Guide: Autumn Containers

Melinda How To: Fall Containers kale

Low maintenance options...

Adding some fall color to the landscape doesn't need to be difficult or an overwhelming task. A pot of mums or asters can add color to your front steps and a container filled with kale and greens adds fresh flavor to your fall meals.

Don't stop there. Create attractive potted gardens by combining asters,  mums, grasses, cool weather edibles and other fall beauties. Or, gather ideas from pre-designed containers in the greenhouse, then add your own personal twist.

Notice how taller plants such as grasses, kale, and Swiss chard provide vertical interest and a focal point in the container. Mums and asters can do the same. Trailing plants like ivy, golden moneywort, and Cool Wave pansies
spill over the edge of the pot. The spaces in between are filled with mums, asters and annuals like pansies, sweet alyssum, and ornamental peppers.

You don't need lots of plants growing in one container to create impact. Combine ornamental cabbage and kale with pansies for a simple, low maintenance planting. The cabbage and kale's color will intensify with cooler temperatures and these along with the pansies tolerate the frosty fall weather.

Try filling a hanging basket with several different ornamental pepper varieties. Combining purple-, yellow-, and red-fruited ornamental peppers can create a kaleidoscope of color at eye level or in any available space.

For those looking to create a more elaborate design, try this strategy. Grab a cart and start the design process as you shop. Begin by selecting the plants that will provide the focal point in your fall containers. Place these on your cart. Now look through the trailing plants for those with colors and textures that combine nicely with your first choices. Next test a few filler plants by setting them on the cart with the others. This allows you to test your design before leaving the store.

 You will find me doing the same when shopping for my plants at Pasquesi. I start by looking for my favorites and new varieties to try. I often end up with several carts full of plants and lots of similar combinations. Save time when you arrive home by taking pictures of the combinations when you finalize your design in the store.

Pick up a few pumpkins and gourds for added color. These can be placed in the planter or set around amongst your container gardens for a festive flair. Berry covered branches, dried flowers and seed heads add interest to any fall combination.

Keep the container in mind when selecting plants or once your have your design set. Decorative pots, bushel baskets or any vessel with drainage holes can work. Just fill with a quality potting mix and add the plants.

See Melinda's video on creating fall containers & deco at

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Beginner's Guide to Gardening with you!