Container Gardening

Transitioning to Fall with Containers

By Sarah Marcheschi

Ferns are perfect for fall containers

Another perfect choice to shine in summer as well as fall containers is the Brilliance Autumn Fern, or Dryopteris erythrosora‘Brilliance.’ A beautiful, and somewhat unexpected choice for planting in pots, this fern starts out a delicate coppery-red and matures to a deep green by the end of summer. In autumn, the lacy fronds often turn red again. It’s easy to grow, thrives in heavy shade or dappled sun, and appreciates a drier soil.

Annual vinca, coreopsis and a mum (Photo by Sarah Marcheschi)

Geraniums are cool for fall temperatures

A plant you might be surprised to find on this transitional list is one many of us have come to acknowledge as a quintessential part of summer – the geranium! In fact, you can keep your potted geraniums right into the chillier weather, and chances are they will get a burst of energy when the temperatures cool off and start to perform even better than they did during the sweltering days of July and August. And varieties with red blooms look just as attractive against the orange and bronze shades of fall as they did with the greens of summer. For best results, geraniums should be planted in full sun with well-drained soil. They will reward you with pretty flowers right up to the first frost.


Don’t forget the marigolds

I love planting marigolds in the spring alongside my veggie patch, and seeing their cheery flowers over the course of the summer months. But I think they really make a splash in the fall, when their quintessential reds, golds, and brassy oranges perfectly capture the spirit of the season. Marigolds like full sun, and fertile, well-drained soil. Pinching off the tops of the plants during the summer will encourage them to grow into a bushier shape and promote more blooming. Similarly, deadheading plants will spur them to produce more flowers as well and help get the most life out of your plants.


Moving to cold tolerant plants can extend the season

Whatever combinations you choose for your containers, switching out some of your summer plantings with more cold tolerant options is a great way to extend the growing season and keep pots looking pretty into the fall. As the weather cools off, notice which plants continue to thrive and keep them around, but don’t be afraid to edit out some of the struggling annuals. There are plenty of great options you can turn to for filling in the gaps, and your containers will transition beautifully from the dog days of summer right through until the frost. And after that? Well, that’s what evergreens are for …



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