By the end of August many container gardens are well past their peak and so you need to think about how to refresh them so they continue to put on a good show into fall and beyond. This does not have to mean digging everything out and planting afresh, but rather by making suitable additions you can give the container a further lease of life. Check out these nine ideas from Lauren Dunec Hoang which I found on the Houzz website.
There?s no need to completely rework your summer containers to give them fall flair. Instead, check out these nine ideas for updating existing container gardens (or, if you?re inspired, potting up new ones), including one plant to add for instant drama, and a zero-effort, lazy-gardener?s trick for covering a bare spot.1. Add bold foliage plants. Swap tired warm-season flowers for richly colored foliage plants, leaving mature evergreens and long-lasting perennials in place. For example, this sizzling container in Vancouver, Washington, relies on a mature New Zealand flax (Phormium sp., USDA zones 8 to 11; find your zone) to add height to the design, with brightly colored foliage plants providing seasonal interest.
Here, wine-red coleus, golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, zones 4 to 9) and zingy lime-green ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas, zones 9 to 11) create a dramatic display. Although the coleus and sweet potato vine are not winter-hardy, they could be traded for coral bells or heather moving into the holidays.2. Tuck in cool-season flowers. After removing summer annuals past their prime, fill in the gaps with cool-season bloomers in fall colors. Although they may look tender and delicate, pansies are actually some of the most cold-tolerant annual flowers. When planted now while soils are warm, they?ll bloom from fall to spring. Don?t wait too long, though ? pansies planted late, in soils with temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius), tend to have stunted growth and fewer flowers.For a rich autumn color palette, choose pansies in vibrant hues like orange, gold, red and deep purple or bicolored combinations, avoiding pastel pinks, blues and pale yellows. If you can find them, try very dark purple to velvety black blooms like ?Black King? or ?Black Beauty?. Combine them with coral bells (Heuchera spp.), another cool-season favorite, for a long-lasting display.3. Plant an ornamental grass for instant drama. To give some serious pizazz to existing container gardens by adding just one plant, reach for purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ?Rubrum?, zones 8 to 11). The dramatic ornamental grass can reach 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide (although usually smaller in containers) with a vase-like shape topped with fuzzy purple seed heads. Although often grown as an annual in colder climates, it will continue to look striking throughout fall.