Set off a fall container garden with an array of colorful pumpkins and gourds. This pot showcases a planting combination that features pansy, ornamental or flowering kale and garden mums. For a thriller plant, purple fountain grass provides good height. A bushy rosemary plant offers a pretty textural contrast and background for the combination. Buy plants in larger pots with established root systems to ensure best survival.
Create a colorful container garden packed with annuals that thrive during cool weather, including Anytime Pansiola, a heat-tolerant pansy that’s winter hardy in Zones 5 and higher. It pairs beautifully with Dark Knight sweet alyssum and Sunsatia Lemon nemesia. In pots or planting beds, removing faded and frost-damaged pansy flowers keeps plants from forming seed pods and reduces disease outbreaks.
Keep big container gardens light enough to move by filling the bottom third with lightweight plastics. Upside down flower pots and an empty lidded juice bottle neatly fill space in the bottom of the pot and won’t rot during the course of many growing seasons. Using plastics in the bottom of pots also saves on soil—saving you money. Plastics promote healthy plants by providing an air pocket for plant roots, which helps to prevent waterlogged soil, even during the wettest seasons. Where to find possible space fillers for large planters? Raid your recycling bin, choosing rigid plastics over softer, milk jug-types.
Pansies bring strong cool-season color in containers that can last well into the New Year in regions with mild winters. Choose pot planting partners that also deliver a long show, like Blue Arrows juncus, a type of rush, and sweet alyssum. For longest lasting color, keep pots in a sheltered spot on a porch. When air temps fall below 25 F, pansies look wilted and leaves turn gray-green. This is a typical response to cold air. Plants rebound as air temperature rises.
Count on clay pots to grow plants that often die from overwatering and overly moist soil, like rosemary, cacti or succulents. Unglazed terra-cotta breathes, permitting soil to dry out between waterings.
Fall’s classic bloomer is the garden mum. These colorful beauties paint the autumn landscape in nearly any shade imaginable, from pastel tints to bold hues. Garden mums grow best in full sun with well-drained soil and work well in containers or beds. To enjoy the longest show, choose mums with flower buds that are just beginning to crack open. To overwinter plants as perennials in colder zones, get mums into the ground as early as possible in fall. Mulch well after the ground freezes. Plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse in the garden. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils strut their stuff. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including pink, purple, blue, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Camellia sinensis is the plant you want for growing traditional tea leaves. Dried mature leaves produce black tea; young leaves yield a less acidic brew known as white tea. Allow plants to reach 3 to 5 feet before picking leaves, which you can do twice a year. Prune plants when they’re young to cause branching, which gives you more stems to harvest. Plants are winter hardy in Zones 8-10. Grow them in pots in other zones. Feed tea plants lightly—only in spring.
A newcomer to the market, Heat It Up Yellow blanket flower hit garden centers in 2020. Its sunny hued blooms open reliably all season long and make the perfect addition to containers or planting beds. In this pot blanket flower sparkles when paired with a dark leaf sun-loving coleus (Color Blaze Wicked Witch) and orange callibrachoa (Superbells Dreamsicle). Like other blanket flowers, Heat It Up Yellow has no pest or disease problems and is deer and rabbit resistant. Plants grow 12 to 24 inches tall and spread 18 to 36 inches. Typically grown as an annual, but hardy in Zones 8-10.
Position microgardens on balconies where there is structural strength. Moist soil gets very heavy, so consider the total weight (soil + pot + plants + water) of each container, says Anne Gibson of TheMicroGardener.com. You may need to consult an engineer to find out if the structural capacity can handle the additional weight. It is wise to position heavy pots close to the strength of the structural wall or around the perimeter.
Place the plant, still in its pot, on top of the foam. For this terrarium, Rose used a cyclamen, shown here (Hypoestes phyllostachya ‘Pink’) and Phyllitis scolopendrium (not shown). Janit Calvo, author of Gardening in Miniature and owner of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, says mosses, miniature African violets, Needlepoint English Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Needlepoint’) and dwarf or miniature ferns can grow well in open terrariums with bright, indirect light.