Finding your fall personality

First, it was a bat, then a black cat and skeletons – now it’s ghosts and pumpkins galore! My neighborhood has embraced October.

As we move into the 10th and scariest month of the year and the gardens are transitioning into their next phase, it’s time for container gardens to do the same.

As kind and understanding as I aim to be to myself and others, I am ruthless in the garden. Come October, I will pull a geranium from a container quicker than a ghost can say boo.   

It’s goodbye pinks and hello orange, yellows, and dark shades of red and purple. 

Of course, I will add chrysanthemums and asters, but there are many other choices for fall containers.

Despite my feelings for geraniums in the fall, starting from scratch may not be necessary. If lantana is still going strong, try mixing in sweet potato vine or coleus. If the lantana is yellow, keep with the golden and green colors for fall. If it is in the reddish shades, you can go dark with the sweet potato vine and coleus, which may be hard to find as small plants this time of year but try to repurpose what is in our garden.

Coleus is a versatile annual that grows in part shade. There are several different colorways, and all translate into fall arrangements. This annual can grow 3 feet tall when planted in the spring but will not survive outside after the season’s first frost.

When thinking of the container rhyme of “thriller filler spiller,” Fountain Grass makes a great thriller. The height of the grass will give your container dimension, and there are several different grasses to choose from, such as purples, reds, and greens.

Celosia is another annual that could be used as a thriller. The deep purple or red is a good contrast to greens and slivers of other fall annuals. Celosia, or cockscomb will instantly attract bees – the pollinators love this plant. Keep this in mind if planting near a seating area.

Mums, asters, coral bells, or my fall favorite ornamental cabbage can act as fillers. This cabbage and kale is not edible but only grown for ornamental use. Often, you will see cabbage with leaves tipped in purple or a lighter green. 

The Purple veins, when mixed with kale, purple pansies, and other green filler, make a stunning fall container. Adding a few small white pumpkins to the design will make it pop as the season progresses.

Dusty Miller is another annual that can be added to containers to highlight the purples and dark greens. This annual gets its silvery color from tiny white hairs covering the leaves and stems. 

I like to use ornamental pepper plants for table arrangements inside and outside. I cluster them in a tray and add a few pumpkins for a fall table arrangement. Using peppers, cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard together will create a fun “foodie” look for parties and patios.

With a bit of planning, fall containers can be sunny and harvest-themed or dark and moody. You may choose yellows and reds with orange pumpkins to represent the colors of fall. Purples, and dark greens, accented with deep pink, may be your scene. That’s the fun of garden design – there is always something that will create a look to match your personality.