September: Turn Tired Summer Containers Into Fabulous Fall Creations

As the blazing summer of 2012 rolls into September, it’s time to freshen up those heat-ravaged containers. As we shift seasons, fall containers take center stage.

As the blazing summer of 2012 rolls into September, it’s time to freshen up those heat-ravaged containers. First, consider yourself lucky if any of the plants in your containers have survived after 100-degree temperatures became a daily affair. With the unflagging hope of a gardener, this upcoming autumn will cool us down and we can once again enjoy being outside in our gardens.

 As we shift seasons, fall containers take center stage. Recycle, replace and renew are the 3 R’s that can guide you when creating dramatic, late-season pots. Recycle: There is no need to throw out the entire contents of your summer containers. Simply, pull out the brown, crispy-leaved plants, those tired impatiens and save the good-looking plants that remain. Replace: When adding fresh ones, the key is to choose high-impact plants that are better suited for the cooler weather such as ornamental kale, blue asters and jewel-toned Chrysanthemums. Renew: Your newly, edited autumn containers will become a well-blended combination of full, mature perennials, lavish, draping trailers and spotlighted with fresh, flowering annuals and fall-blooming perennials.                            


Container option: Turning summer into fall

A pink and yellow, tropical-feeling container turns into an elegant, autumn combination: This summer container was planted with pink-flowering, ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias; mounding, yellow, exotic impatiens; an azalea shrub with spring-blooming white flowers; a trailing swath of chartreuse-leaved, Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia) and the large, green-leaves of the Colocasia (Elephant-ear or Taro) plant.



Yellow impatiens

Pink-flowering, ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias

Colocasia (Elephant-ear or Taro)



Glossy, green-leaved azalea as background perennial plant

Trailing, chartreuse-leaved, Creeping Jenny


Add fresh annuals:

Round, ornamental kale with green, blue and purple leaves

Taller, ornamental kale with lacy, deeply-cut, white and green leaves

Light-lavender asters

Trailing, large-leaved, variegated Algerian Ivy

This new combination will offer more texture, a softer, fall palette and includes plants that are more cold tolerant for the upcoming, fall season. Tip: Dig the azalea into the garden in late fall and you might see it bloom again next spring.


More fall plant options:

Japanese Anemone: This fall-blooming, perennial stands out with floating, white or pink flowers.


Sedum: Include hardy ‘Autumn Joy with rosy-red flowers, ‘Autumn Charm’ with pink flowers or ‘Matrona’ with red stems and blue-gray leaves.


Eupatorium rugosa ‘Chocolate’: A dark-leaved perennial blooms with sprays of white flowers in fall. It is native to Eastern North America and is not attractive to deer.


Pansies and violas: Sweet-faced, flowers are available in solid or bi-colored tones of  purple, yellow, orange, cranberry, lavender or white. The ‘Icicle’ brand pansies are winter hardy in our zone.


Chrysanthemums: Globes of these traditional, autumn-flowering plants are available in almost every color except blue.


Ornamental Peppers: These compact annuals add the ‘fun’ element to fall containers. The ‘Black Pearl’ pepper features round, purple-black fruits with purple and white variegated leaves. Or, try fiery red, orange or yellow peppers to make containers com

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