fall, autumn, patio, veranda, decor, hotel, luxury, fall colors, fall plants, outdoor decor, planters, pumpkins, gourds

Hotel Fall Planter

A few days ago, we discussed fall planters for transitioning your outdoor space to autumn.

Some of planters had golds, reds and other fall colors, while some had Halloween themes (like skull-shaped ceramic planters for growing cactus).

But planters are probably the lesser part of fall container gardening. The question really is: what plants work well when the air gets chillier and days get shorter?

Here are a few, from the popular and obvious to perhaps a surprise or two…

First Some Basics

“Choose plants,” says Muffin Evander on FineGardening.com, “that can survive several light frosts.” She adds that you should use plants rated two hardiness zones colder than the zone you live in.

If you don’t know what zone you’re in, you can find out from the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Map. Enter your zip code and you’ll see your zone. The higher the number, the warmer the zone — so a colder zone like Chicago is 6, while a warmer zone like Houston is 9.

But from what I can see, it may not matter for fall plants in containers. Hardiness zones are based on coldest temperatures, so unless your plants are going to be outside in winter, zones may not matter so much. In any case, here’s what the USDA hardiness zone map looks like…

Fall Plants: Phormium

In the end, Muffin Evander’s comment about choosing plants that can survive several light frosts may be the most useful.

One plant she’s quick to mention is New Zealand flax (or Phormium), which can grow to 12 feet high. While it’s rated for zones 9-11, it can take temperatures down to 27°F.

As BHG.com’s Plant Encyclopedia put it: “While New Zealand flax is a popular perennial in frost-free areas, it’s becoming more and more loved in northern regions, where it’s treated as an annual.”

Here’s the prettiest Phormium planter I could find — it’s in a Santa Barbara landscape by Donna Lynn and LynnLandscapeDesign

new zealand flax, phormium, plant, container plant, new zealand, fall, autumn, garden, gardening, planters, container gardening, gardens, pots, plant pots, garden planters, garden pots, container garden, fall garden, fall plants, outdoor pots, garden containers, fall gardening, fall gardens, fall planters, autumn gardens, autumn plants

Phormium Planter by Landscape Design-Donna Lynn

To get a feel for New Zealand flax in its native environment, here’s a shot of the plant in Wenderholm Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand…

new zealand, Auckland, Wenderholm Regional Park, new zealand flax, phormium, plant, plants, garden, parks, park, gardening, gardens, fall plants, garden plants, container garden plants, autumn plants

Phormium in a New Zealand Park

Fall Plants: Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums fall into two groups: exhibition and “garden hardy”, the latter being perennials that can winter in many northern areas. My wife buys exhibition (or “florist mums”) that are not as hardy, and plants them here in Michigan on our porch in the fall. Here’s a close up of pumpkins mixing nicely with pots of yellow and red chrysanthemums…

pumpkins, Chrysanthemums, mums, mum, Chrysanthemum, porch, container plant, fall, autumn, garden, gardening, planters, container gardening, gardens, pots, plant pots, garden planters, garden pots, container garden, fall garden, fall plants, outdoor pots, garden containers, fall gardening, fall gardens, fall planters, autumn gardens, autumn plants

Pumpkins and Chrysanthemums on a Porch

Here “mums” are featured in a modern planter, part of a Milwaukee entrance designed by Genesis Architecture

Fall Plants: Kale

“In the Chicago area,” writes Ramon Gonzalez on Treehugger.com, “cabbage and kale are staples of fall containers because they’re tough cool season crops and easily survive light frosts.”

Ramon (a Chicago garden expert who has a well-written garden blog called MrBrownThumb) lists kale at the top of his list of affordable fall container plants. Here’s a close look at some ornamental kale…

ornamental kale, kale, container plant, fall, autumn, garden, gardening, planters, container gardening, gardens, pots, plant pots, garden planters, garden pots, container garden, fall garden, fall plants, outdoor pots, garden containers, fall gardening, fall gardens, fall planters, autumn gardens, autumn plants

Ornamental Kale Close Up

Here’s Kale featured in a fall planter in front of beautiful front entry by Arbor Hill Interiors

Ornamental Cabbage

We just mentioned cabbage, which is actually the same plant species (Brassica oleracea) as kale, and also an excellent fall container plant. Ornamental cabbage like this one is still edible, though it may not have the same tenderness and taste as the vegetable we’re used to…

fall, autumn, garden, cabbage, gardening, planters, porch, patio, decor, container gardening, fall plants, fall decor, container garden, fall garden, ornamental cabbage, Brassica oleracea, fall gardens, fall planters, container garden plants, fall container gardening, fall container gardens, ornamental cabbages

Closeup of an Ornamental Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)

Do you have a favorite fall plant? Don’t hesitate to upload a picture to our Bombay Outdoors Facebook Page!


Leave a Reply!