Beyond Mums, Great Plants for Fall Container Gardens

  • 01 of 07

    Fab Fall Plants

    Calibrachoa
    Michael Davis / Getty Images

    Mums and asters are all over the place in the fall and, don't get me wrong, they are great plants. But there are lots of other contenders that can sail through the cold temps of fall, looking awesome.

    Here are our favorites.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Heuchera aka Coral Bells

    Heuchera
    Heuchera in Pumpkin Planter. © Kerry Michaels

    Coral bells, also known as heuchera, are one of my all time favorite container plants. They come in a mind-blowing assortment of colors and leaf textures and they are a very good-humored plant – almost impossible to kill. Some heuchera are happy in full sun, shade, or anything in between. Most are hardy down to -25 °F and perennial in zones 4 to 9. They are mounding plants and look great on their own or paired with either contrasting plants or in shades of the same color.

    Coral bells can look...MORE great with gourds, mums and ornamental grasses. Choose a dark, almost black leaf, like 'Dolce, Licorice' or choose the lighter, 'Dolce, Peach Melba' for a terrific fall plant that works well with many fall decorations. I also love planting them in pumpkin planters.

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  • 03 of 07

    Verbena

    Verbena
    Red Verbena. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    Verbena is a prolific bloomer and will look good from spring well into fall. Many verbenas are hardy down to 15 °F and will continue flowering even after the first frost. They look great either on their own or filling in spaces and spilling over the edges of garden planters, window boxes or hanging baskets.

    Colors range from brilliant reds to deep, dark blue to purples and pinks. They are drought tolerant and only need an average amount of water. They do need good drainage and, like most flowering...MORE annuals, verbenas need to be fed every couple of weeks. Though deadheading isn't necessary for most common varieties, your plant will look much better if you cut off the blooms after they fade. If your plant gets leggy, you will want to give it a serious haircut, pruning it way back, so it will fill out.

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  • 04 of 07

    Oxalis or Shamrock

    Oxalis in Rustic basket
    Rustic Basket with Oxalis and Fuchsia. Photo © Kerry Michaels

    I love the look of oxalis. It is elegant and, at the same, time kind of cheerful. It is exceedingly easy to grow and likes partial shade to full shade. It is hardy to 15 °F and is an annual except in zones 8 to 10. Oxalis is a mounding plant and grows to be 12 to 18 inches high, making it a good plant to use in filling out a container. It comes in several colors including a really dark, almost black, ‘Charmed Velvet,’ and my favorite, a burgundy color called ‘Charmed Wine.” Another plus about...MORE oxalis is that you can bring it inside to overwinter.

    Make sure you get Oxalis vulcanicola, which is not invasive.  

    Oxalis with Fuchsia in Rustic Basket.

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  • 05 of 07

    Decorative Cabbage and Kale

    Container garden picture of basket with three flowering cabbage
    Flowering Cabbage Basket. Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Decorative cabbages are delightfully chubby and cheerful plants, while the kales are all spiky and radical looking. However, both of these plants will take you well into fall with style and beautiful sagey greens with pinks and purples. As a bonus, flowering cabbage and kales' colors only intensify as the weather gets colder, especially after a frost.

    I particularly love cabbages grouped together in either rustic garden planters or low baskets. They also can bring some great color and texture to...MORE mixed container gardens. Kales can look great in funky shallow baskets, window boxes or modern metal planters with clean lines. These are really bold plants, so don’t be afraid to put them in unusual containers or combine them with unlikely plants.

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  • 06 of 07

    Sedum

    fall container garden picture of sedum and mums
    Sedum and Mums. Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a classic fall plant for container gardens because that’s when it looks its best. Blooming in late summer to early fall, sedum is easy to grow in containers, preferring good drainage and full sun, though most will tolerate some shade. There are a vast array of sedums with different textures and flowers.

    Sedum is a particularly good choice of plant for a fall container that you want to leave out all winter, because the dried flowers can look beautiful, especially...MORE covered with snow or frost. Sedum is hardy to a whopping -40°F and is a perennial in zones 3 to 9.

    Some sedum can get pretty tall so it’s great to use in the center or back of a container.

    Sedum with Lambs Ear, Sweet Potato Vine and Flowering Kale.

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  • 07 of 07

    More Ideas for Great Fall Container Plants

    container garden picture of grouping of fall container gardens
    Grouping of Fall Container Gardens. Photo © Kerry Michaels

    These plants will also survive the cold with style and class.