Look for pansy formula mixes with color blends to suit every season. Panola Autumn Blaze pansy opens blossoms in shades perfect for fall: burgundy and gold. Panola pansies are multiflora types, which open smaller flowers on shorter stems, giving plants a thick covering of blooms. Panola is an overwintering pansy, the kind that garden centers guarantee to survive winter and usher in spring with fluttering flowers. Pansies in pots won’t survive winter in colder zones, where soil can freeze solid. For best winter survival, tuck Panola pansies into planting beds.
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.
Take advantage of the new pansy breeding by tucking Cool Wave Spreading pansies into window boxes where their stems will create a waterfall of bloom. For pansies in containers, mix a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer into soil prior to planting. This is a secret to strong growth and a steady flower show. In window boxes, pair pansies with upright coppery leatherleaf sedge, like this Bronco ColorGrass sedge.
Sometimes you can find teacups or mugs with so much personality, they make your teacup garden. This oversized cat mug offered the perfect vessel for a garden filled with charming faux mushrooms and an array of multicolored plants.
Cool Wave Spreading pansies strut their stuff beautifully in hanging baskets, where stems cascade 18 to 24 inches. Water is one secret to success with fall-planted pansies. Water well at planting time, and be sure to water plants thoroughly before cold snaps. If cold is strong enough to freeze soil around pansy rootballs, roots cannot absorb water until soil thaws.
Colletti says growing moss in a terrarium can be a challenge, because there's a lot of moisture and little air circulation. She prefers open-topped containers. Climacium americanum (commonly called lobe-leaved tree moss) and Hedwigia ciliata (fringed hoar-moss) work well in any kind of container, she says. Leucobryum glaucum (pincushion moss) and Cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss, actually a lichen) are best used in open containers. In this image, sheet moss surrounds other small plants.
There’s no shortage of planters available, in just about any size and style you might need. But if you’re working in a contemporary or urban setting, or if you want to create your own “wall” of privacy plantings, simple, rectilinear styles may work best. Blox Rectangular Galvanized Charcoal Planters, $49.95 to $69.95 from CB2, are made of matte-finished galvanized steel, for a sleek but industrial look.
Reindeer moss, Colletti says, "does not have fine, hairlike strands like Spanish moss; it moves more freely in one piece." She uses a short stake to arrange it in terrariums. Reindeer moss is actually a lichen, not a true moss, and it's available in dyed pink, blue, purple, red and other colors.
Bring on the blooms with Mistral Yellow begonia. This sunny beauty is a type of Begonia boliviensis, which pumps out flowers all summer long. Showcase Mistral Yellow in a hanging basket or tall container. Plants form tubers that overwinter easily in the pot. Slip the pot into a non-freezing, cool, dark location for winter. Barely water once a month. Tubers start sprouting in spring, signaling it’s time to move the plant into bright light.
Plan on enjoying time in your retreat year-round by including a fire pit or other source of warmth for the chilly seasons. Tending a cozy fire brings its own magic for unwinding after busy days. Keep the makings of s’mores on hand if that makes you happy. Tall ornamental grass clumps enclose this retreat with a living privacy fence, and pretty seasonal container gardens offer a just-right splash of color. Before adding a fire feature to your outdoor spaces, be sure to check local codes.
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.
Want a Roma for containers that yields enough ‘maters for salsa or sauce? Little Napoli is the plant for you. This beauty flourishes in pots and yields fruit in flushes, easily producing enough meaty fruits for a batch of your favorite concoction. Plants have strong disease resistance.