You might not believe it, but you don’t have to lose your entire container garden in the fall when most plants either die or go dormant. In fact, there are some plants that actually prefer colder weather, and do quite well for some time into the winter. If you are in a mid-range or warmer climate, some might even last through the entire winter season. As the rest of your plants start fading, you can transition to others, and keep your garden for much longer than you might have expected.
First you’ll need to make sure you have containers that will survive the elements and the temperature changes. Ceramic and clay pots may crack in colder weather, so you might need something like concrete, stone, or wood instead.
You have several choices of possible things to grow, from both perennials and annuals. With the annuals, some of them will simply extend their summer growing into the autumn and then fade away, while others may actually survive far into the winter. For example, verbena and certain geraniums will last past their summer season. Pansies and violas have long been known to be cold-loving flowers, as well as panolas, a pansy-viola cross. Other annuals you could choose would be cyclamen and flowering kale and cabbages.
From perennials, you could choose things like coral bells, hens and chicks, creeping jenny, chrysanthemums, and ornamental grasses. Don’t forget that you can use some small evergreens as well. There’s a reason that holly is associated with the holiday season.
The colors of your fall garden can be spectacular. Cyclamen will usually be pink, white, or sometimes crimson. Autumn crocus, a bulb that can last several years, will produce pink, lilac, or lavender colored blooms. Mixing these with the many brilliant colors of pansies can create a very bright autumn container garden. You can add trailing ivy and grasses for variation, or accent some of the pots with evergreen branches and pine cones.
Where you almost can’t go wrong, though, will be with chrysanthemums. There are so many different kinds, sizes, shapes, and especially colors, that you could almost fill your entire autumn container garden with them. You’ll need to be sure that you’re not buying “hot house” or florist mums, though, because these are not bred for the outdoors. Instead, buy those that will be hardy, and then deadhead regularly, and the plants will add not only flowers but lush growth to your containers.
You’ll need to remember to treat your autumn garden differently from the summer garden. For one thing, these plants won’t need fertilizing, nor will they need watering more than about once a week. As autumn and early winter plants, they’re intrinsically hardy enough to get by in sparser conditions, so you must not overwhelm them with an abundance of riches.
You’ll still need to take heed to the elements and offer the containers some protection from high winds or frost. But if you put the right plants in place and take proper care of them, you could extend the life of your container garden into the fall and maybe even into the winter months.
edited for Garden Artistics