By Marianne Binetti
Hooray for heucheras and their warm autumn tones! I use these foliage plants in autumn container gardens that need some freshening up, and they look great all winter. In spring I can move these perennials into garden beds to make room for summer annuals in my patio pots.
In this porch pot I added a candle ring made of weatherproof autumn berries to add an autumn accent. The mini wreath hangs from a metal hook made for plant tags. In December I may change the color of the wreath, but the heucheras continue to add evergreen color.
Petunias might peter out as fall weather arrives, so consider filling in your petunia pots with the cream and peach blooms of Pee Gee hydrangeas. I wait until September to harvest the flowers from my large Pee Gee hydrangea.
Here you see I have pruned my Pee Gee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) into a tree shape. I just poke the cut stem of the hydrangea blooms into the moist soil of my container gardens and let the flowers dry. By the way fall is a good time to buy and plant the Pee Gee hydrangea—add one now for years of autumn blooms.
Another way to dress up your pots for the fall season is to remove any summer-weary or frost-nipped annuals and fill in the space with a nonliving focal point. The corks and glass ball in this photo occupy the spot where a heat-loving kalanchoe once bloomed. Don’t be afraid to remove faded annuals from containers this month and fill them in with hardier flowering cabbage, winter pansies, or mums, leaving in place any summer plants that still look good.
Repurpose any container that is rustic, rusty, or worn. This bronze “plant stand” actually is a beverage container used all summer to hold ice and bottled drinks. I bought it from my local Lowe's store a few years ago, but it wasn’t until this fall that I realized how perfect it works as an autumn container garden. I just added the garland of artificial fall leaves by looping it through the metal stand.
Baskets and containers such as this are deep enough to hide plastic pots—so just set a couple of potted plants into the container and you’ve got a great display near the front door. I used ‘Short and Sassy’ helenium because I like the way the bronze container picks up the dark-chocolate center of these mini sunflowers.
Fall is for planting, and that means filling your pots with the warm colors of the harvest season.
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