Fall Container Ideas: Changing up Your Annual Planters

As the morning air starts to feel a little crisper here in Bismarck, we can expect many of the wonderful, heat-loving blooms of summer to fade. Many gardeners take this as a sign to hand their annual plants over to Mother Nature and finish gardening for the year. While autumn colors provide natural beauty all on their own, there's no reason you can't cherish your beloved annuals for a little longer-especially when it comes to container gardens. Learn how to change up your annual planters with some of our fantastic fall container ideas:

Annual Flowers for Fall Containers
Did you know that many of our summer-bloomers can actually last well into fall? Some flowers actually prefer to make an appearance when the weather is a little milder! Here are some of our favorite annual flowers for fall planters:


  • Sunflowers: They may be a symbol of summer, but these classic flowers actually remain in-bloom well into fall! Their deep yellow petals blend well with seasonal colors and contribute well to a rustic, fall harvest theme. Try a dwarf cultivar, like Sunny Smile, for a container-friendly version of this fall-friendly flower!
  • Celosia: For a bright burst of tropical color in the landlocked prairies of North Dakota, look no further than the whimsical celosia plant. Their colorful flame-like tufts come in ultra-vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and magenta, and they make a bold statement in container arrangements with other more subtly tinted plants.
  • Chrysanthemums: As the mercury falls, these stunning blooms of almost every shape and shade intensify their already-vibrant colors. You can even get hardy mum varieties that can survive the winter!
  • Flowering Kale: Also called flowering cabbage, this tough plant boasts textured foliage and stunning shades of green, purple, magenta, and cream that look great in any container. As nice as it may look, we recommend enjoying this type of kale with your eyes only, as it isn't very tasty.
  • Rudbeckia: These bright sunny blossoms are a favorite among pollinators who love to perch on their petals and snack on their big, conical centers. They'll keep on blooming until the first frost of winter, with no deadheading required!
  • Sedum: There are endless varieties of this low-maintenance succulent plant, but for autumn we particularly love the deeper blue-green and purple tinted cultivars, for that ultra-trendy jewel-toned palette. If placed in full sun, you'll be treated with some lovely blossoms all through the fall, in shades of pink, purple, white, or yellow.


Annual Plants for Fall Containers
As you know, not everything is always about the blooms-especially in autumn   Some of these ornamental grasses and lovely plants will accent your fall garden with their stunning foliage alone. Find these and more in our garden center:

 Purple Fountaingrass: This tall ornamental grass makes the perfect thriller for your fall containers with its deep purple color and feathery plumes.

  • Purple Millet: The fluffy purple seed heads of this ornamental grass look just like cattails, and at the end of the season you can cut them, dry them, and include them in bouquets! They have a delightfully sweet scent too, kind of like molasses.
  • Coral Bells: While technically considered a flowering plant, it's the foliage that really steals the spotlight in this fabulous fall plant. There are endless color varieties available, with leaves in showstopping shades of orange, purple, silver, lime green, and even black!
  • Croton: If you're looking for something bold and dramatic to become the focal point of your container, look no further! With flamboyant patterns of red, orange, yellow, and purple, croton is a stunning addition to any container.
  • Ornamental Pepper: This annual plant displays vibrant, upright fruits in shades of red, orange, yellow, white, and purple-and you may even see several different colors at once! Not only prized for its flashy fruits, this plant also boasts attractive, glossy green foliage that looks great all on its own.


Designing Fall Container Gardens:
If you're feeling creative, why not mix and match a variety of fall-interest plants in the same container? Well-designed container gardens feature plants of different sizes, shapes, and colors that work well together.
First, choose a tall or bold plant to become your focal point, or "thriller". Tall ornamental grasses, or plants with flashy foliage, like croton, are great thrillers. Next, close in any gaps or empty spaces with your "filler" — something low and bushy, like pansies or flowering kale. Finally, choose a "spiller", which is something that trails over the side of your container to soften the edges, like sweet potato vine.
Of course, you don't have to pick just one plant for each category. Choose as many as you want, just leave some space for each plant to spread!

Growing Vegetables in Containers
Regardless of pretty blooms and fancy foliage, you can always count on veggies to fill your fall containers with life and color. Leafy greens, such as kale, lettuce, and spinach are ideal cool season veggies that thrive in containers. Even some root and bulb vegetables  like carrots, turnips, and garlic-grow well in fall containers. For optimal growth, make sure your pot is big and deep enough to keep them warm.

Keep your container gardens alive and thriving until frost with some of these fantastic fall favorites. Combinations of these beautiful plants will help to ease the transition from bright summer blooms to the snowy season ahead. For more great fall garden ideas, visit our garden center in Bismarck today!

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