Fresh Fall Container Gardens | Midwest Living

Fresh Fall Container Gardens

Add autumn spice to your landscape with any of these bright and beautiful container gardens.
  • Pumpkin pretty

    Emphasize the bounty of autumn by packing your fall container garden with a variety of plants. They don't need much elbowroom for end-of-the-season growing. This planter, an antique cream separator, makes good neighbors of (clockwise, from top middle) red cockscomb celosia, yellow pansies, blue fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'), orange 'Peter Pan Mix' zinnias, 'Pink Pewter' lamium, 'Deep Orange' pansies and rosemary. Pumpkins and gourds displayed next to your fall container add an extra splash of seasonal color.

  • Mum accents

    Mums don’t feel quite as common when grouped with other containers. Here, a tub of ‘Spicy Cheryl Orange’ mums gets a lift from the airy plumes of maiden grass and dried pampas grass in an adjacent container and a smaller bucket of cabbage adorned with pieces of bittersweet in front.

  • Packed to the brim

    Choose containers you love and pack them to the brim in autumn. The planter (left) includes helichrysum ‘Icicles’, creeping Jenny, pansies, kale, black-eyed susans and sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. The wire basket (right) holds Swiss chard, ornamental peppers, pansies, black-eyed Susan and golden sage.

  • High-reaching display

    High-reaching display

    Dried banana stems, bleached white, create eye-catching height in a fall container. Sedum ‘Angelina’ spills over the edge while the frilly leaves of ‘Peacock White’ kale wrap around white Lumina pumpkins. 

  • Fall update

    Fall updates

    Mums and gourds give a fall revival to a rosemary plant held over from summer. The muted color palette of pale green, grey and white transitions the arrangement subtly from summer to fall.

  • Pumpkin Globe

    Pumpkin globe

    A metal sphere shows off cool-weather-loving violas and a pumpkin. Insert a moss liner into the sphere, fill with soil, and set the pumpkin in the center. Tuck in violas around the edge.

  • Fall window box

    Fall window box

    Dress up your window box for fall with gourds and vegetables in a variety of shapes and textures. Our veggies included chartreuse Romanesco broccoli, Cipollini onions, large cabbage heads, and strings of Brussels sprouts on stalks. Vegetables can last two to three weeks in cool weather.

  • Skirt the subject

    Skirting the subject

    Give a plain potted chrysanthemum a style boost by surrounding it with small pumpkins and gourds. The "skirt" also hides the mum's stems. 

  • Pumpkin focus

    Pumpkin focus

    A tall pumpkin with a sculptural stem anchors this fall container display. (To make the pumpkin last longer, set it on a piece of stone so it doesn’t touch moist soil.) Also in the container:  mounding Sedum ‘Angelina’ and an assortment of gourds, arranged so some spill over the pot’s edge.

  • 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.

  • Overflowing wheelbarrow

    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.

  • Bountiful birdbath

    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.

  • Vertical drama

    Give your fall container height and texture by adding dried pampas grass and iris pods. Peacock kale and mums mound together at the base.


  • Super simple

    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.

  • Easy transition

    Red twigs add cheer and height in this fall-to-winter container of wintergreen, Mugo dwarf pine, the white-variegated foliage of Hebe Variegata, maidengrass 'Morning Light', and ornamental millet 'Purple Baron'.

  • Tall advantages

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • Fall fireworks

    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.

  • Graceful plumes

    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.

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