By MELINDA MYERS
End the growing season with an extra burst of color and nutrition with a few fall containers. 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. But don’t stop there. Create attractive potted gardens by combining asters, mums, grasses, cool weather edibles and other fall beauties.
Spruce up an existing container by replacing weather worn annuals with fresh fall favorites. Pansies, sweet alyssum and dianthus are just a few annuals that hit their stride as cooler weather returns.
Or plant new container gardens for your fall landscape. Just select a pot with drainage holes and fill it with a quality planting mix. Or upcycle items like a wicker basket, small bushel basket, wooden crate or galvanized tub into a fun fall planter. Just add drainage holes before planting. Or scoop out a pumpkin and set a pot of pansies or ornamental peppers inside.
Use ornamental grasses, kale, black-eyed Susans and Swiss chard for vertical interest. Complement your plantings and containers with garden art, gourds, mini pumpkins and berry-covered branches. Add a mum or aster for a vibrant surge of color.
Include some trailing plants like golden moneywort, trailing lobelia and ivy. Fill any voids with snapdragons, ornamental peppers, colorful greens and coral bells. Just be sure to protect peppers and any other frost-sensitive plants on those chilly nights.
Grow a container of Bright Lights Swiss Chard, colorful leaf lettuce and pansies – the flowers are edible – for an attractive and edible combination. Make your fall centerpiece an edible part of your gatherings. Fill a metal colander or basket with red dragon arugula, red mizuna mustard, red sails lettuce, bull’s blood beets and other colorful greens in a metal colander or basket for your outdoor gatherings.
Test your container designs while shopping. Grab a cart and gather the plants you would like to grow. See if the colors and textures work well together. The bold leaves of plants like ornamental cabbage contrast with the fine leaves of ornamental grasses to create a focal point. Repeat colors from the flowers or leaves of one plant to another to unify your planting. For example, use a purple aster or pink mum to echo the colors of decorative kale, pansies or the colorful leaf stems of Swiss chard.
Set containers on the front steps as a colorful autumn welcome. Group several containers together for a garden of containers to display on the deck, patio or balcony. This collection of container gardens is sure to brighten your day when relaxing outdoors or enjoying the view from inside the house looking out.
Go one step further and create a stunning autumn display by combining fall planters with gourds, decorative squash and pumpkins. Use corn stalks or broom corn for vertical interest or as a backdrop. Then include bales of hay to elevate a few of the pots and pumpkins for multiple levels of fall beauty. Dress it up further with sprigs of American bittersweet, grape vines and other fall décor.
A few fall planters can go a long way to help celebrate the transition from summer to winter. The last blaze of color will warm you as the temperatures start to drop.
(Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. Myers’ website, www.MelindaMyers.com, features gardening videos, podcasts, audio tips and monthly gardening checklists.)