5 Best Plants for Fall Container Gardens

Surprising, Beautiful Choices

Decorative Fall kale planter

 

ballycroy / Getty Images

Mums and asters are all over the place in the fall and they are great plants. But there are lots of other contenders that can sail through the cold temperaturess of fall, providing decorative options for container gardens. Fall container gardens can brighten up a garden that's lost its summer bloom. Here are five of the best options for fall container gardens.

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  • 01 of 05

    Coral Bells (Heuchera cultivars)

    Coral Bells in planter


    retrofutur / Getty Images

    Coral bells, also known as heuchera, are a favorite container plant. They come in a huge range of colors and leaf textures and they are almost impossible to kill. 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 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. They also look lovely when paired with pumpkin planters.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red, white, coral, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy
  • 02 of 05

    Verbena (Family Verbenaceae)

    Verbena planter

     

    fotokate / Getty Images

    Verbena is a prolific bloomer and will look good from spring well into fall. Many verbenas are hardy down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit 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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red, lavender, blue, and purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Acidic soil
  • 03 of 05

    Oxalis or Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii)

    Oxalis in Rustic basket
    Kerry Michaels

    Oxalis is elegant and cheerful. It is exceedingly easy to grow and likes partial shade to full shade. 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 another favorite, a burgundy color called ‘Charmed Wine.” Another plus about oxalis is that you can bring it inside to overwinter. Make sure you get Oxalis vulcanicola, which is not invasive.  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: mauve, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining soil
  • 04 of 05

    Decorative Cabbage and Kale (Brassica oleracea species)

    Container garden picture of basket with three flowering cabbage
    Kerry Michaels

    Decorative cabbages are delightfully chubby and cheerful plants, while the kales are spiky. However, both of these plants will take you well into fall with style and beautiful sage greens with pinks and purples. As a bonus, flowering cabbage and kales' colors only intensify as the weather gets colder, especially after a frost. Cabbages are wonderful grouped in either rustic garden planters or low baskets. They also can bring some great color and texture to mixed container gardens. Kales can look great in funky shallow baskets, window boxes or modern metal planters with clean lines. These are bold plants, so don’t be afraid to put them in unusual containers or combine them with unlikely plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Ornamental leaves in purple, rose, cream
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy
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  • 05 of 05

    Sedum (Sedum)

    Stonecrop

     

    HaiGala / Getty Images

    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, and there is 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 covered with snow or frost. Some sedum can get pretty tall so it’s great to use in the center or back of a container.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Pink to mauve
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average soil with good drainage

Tip

To keep your garden interesting even in winter, choose plants like sedum that can overwinter with continuously interesting flowers and foliage.