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Fall Flower Pot Ideas

By: James A. Baggett
Don't let your container gardens fizzle out. Try out these fresh fall flower pot ideas for beauty that endures to the end of the growing season.

Fall flower pots preview image closeup

Fresh ideas for your fall flower pots

Why be satisfied with containers that fizzle out by the end of summer? Mixing up your plant selection a bit can give you a combination that looks better and better as the growing season goes on and provide a wealth of changing colors and interesting elements for a splashy late-season spectacle. There are a few simple traits to consider for fabulous fall flower pots: colorful foliage, showy seedheads and long-blooming flowers. Pulled together, all of these elements bring the feeling of autumn abundance to the smallest of spaces.

Fire up the foliage

Think about using the colors of fall foliage as a palette for autumn containers. Easy to put together and maintain, these combinations can provide color and interest in an otherwise-subdued landscape. Many plants hold their foliage and form, even when temperatures plummet and the plants stop growing. Look for plants like coleus, coral bells and iresine, whose leaves already come in autumnal shades of purples, russets and oranges.

Show off seeds

Some plants not only look attractive when they are in flower, but they have attractive seedheads as well. In August and September, ornamental grasses take the stage. Their soft-textured foliage weaves and their seedheads nod in the wind. Dwarf or purple fountain grass or dwarf maiden grass provide a wide range of colors and textures to create interest for all seasons.

Reliable bloomers

Fortunately, there are many plants that hold their blossoms late into the season, including the marigolds and celosia in the planting below. Annuals like these are the key to season-long color, but you can also create a robust show of golds, reds, oranges and purples using perennials. Think coreopsis, gloriosa daisy and garden mums. Here are four great-looking container recipes that are guaranteed to put on a colorful display until freezing temperatures announce the end of the season.

Fall flower pot with celosia, ornamental peppers, marigolds and pumpkins: Ornamental peppers are safe to eat but they are normally grown for their
colors rather than their flavor.

A flaming fall flower pot

Design a container that appears to burst into flames by combining hot colors that glow like embers in a cozy campfire. The celosia and the ornamental peppers will persist until frost, and the marigolds and St. John’s wort will continue to bloom with regular deadheading. Decorate with a few carefully placed gourds or pumpkins for a final autumnal touch.

Growing tips

  • Allow the soil in this container to dry out between waterings.
  • Water once or twice a week (or perhaps daily in the heat of the summer).
  • Pinch the tips of newly planted marigolds once or twice to encourage bushy plants.
  • Trim back the stems of the alternanthera whenever it looks thin or leggy to keep it bushy and full (you can use the stem cuttings to start new plants).
  • Be sure to apply a slow-release or all-purpose fertilizer once a month.

Fall flower pot with celosia and marigolds planting plan small

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Celosia Celosia argentea cristata ‘New Look’ (1)
B) Marigold Tagetes patula Super Hero Spry (4)
C) Ornamental peppers Capsicum annuum ‘Chilly Chili’ (1)
D) Alternanthera Alternanthera dentata Little Ruby (1)
E) St. John’s wort Hypericum kalmianum Blues Festival® (1) Container is 18 inches in diameter

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Fall flower pot with millet, coleus, and petchoa: Like its relatives
the petunia and calibrachoa, petchoa does best in full sun and comes in a range of colors.

Red-hued fall container

Create a sense of mystery in a fall container by combining various shades of red — such as burgundy, maroon and russet — with equally dark purple and chocolate brown. Such sultry combinations create the illusion of depth and hidden distances, even in a small space. The millet develops its deep brown color the more sun it gets, and this is a coleus that takes full sun as well.

Growing tips

  • Be sure to pinch back any flower stalks on the coleus because they detract from the colorful leaf display.
  • Birds, including goldfinches, will eat the seeds of the millet, so you may want to leave this container out until the birds have finished feeding.

Fall flower pot with coleus and millet planting plan small

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Ornamental millet Pennisetum glaucum ‘Copper Prince’ (1)
B) Iresine Iresine herbstii ‘Purple Lady’ (2)
C) Coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides Serrano (1)
D) Petchoa Petchoa® SuperCal® Cherry (2)
E) Dianthus Dianthus Jolt® Cherry (2)
F) Pentas Pentas lanceolata Lucky Star® Pink (1)
Container is 24 inches in diameter


Fall flower pot with mum and pansy: Garden mums and pansies are a classic fall plant combination.

Fall planter with mums and pansies

Summer’s over and those pots filled with annuals are starting to look a bit tired. Fall is a great time for a fresh planting for your containers. Head to the garden center and you’ll find dozens of bright garden mums, budded and ready for you to take home. But why just set out a few mums on their own when they look so striking in combinations? Just look at what you can do with one mum and a few pansies. Add some foliage perennials, like this bugleweed and sedum, to fill in the holes, and you have a sunloving pot that will last until a hard frost.

Growing tip

Line the basket with a piece of plastic to protect the wood planter from moisture damage, fill it with potting mix, set the plants in place and you’re done.

fall flower pot with mums and pansy planting plan small

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Mum Chrysanthemum Prophet® Ashley (1)
B) Sedum Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (4)
C) Bugleweed Ajuga reptans ‘Binblasca’ (Black Scallop) (4)
D) Pansy Viola ‘Deep Blue Blotch’ (8)
Container shown is 24 in. in diameter

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fall flower pot with coneflowers and coral bells: Since coral bells is
a perennial, plant it in the garden a few weeks before your average last
frost date.

An autumn meadow in a pot

What’s better than the warm autumn sun shining through the fuzzy seedheads on a clump of late-season grasses? It makes them absolutely glow! Everything in this meadow-inspired container is perennial. That means when it’s time to empty and store the pot, you can transfer all of the plants to your garden. Plus, fall is a good time to shop for perennials like these on clearance.

Growing tip

After you move the plants to the garden, water them in thoroughly. Then spread 2 to 4 in. of a loose winter mulch around the plants so the soil stays warmer longer. Straw or crisp oak leaves work great. That’ll give everything a bit of extra time to send out anchoring roots.

Planting plan for fall flower pot with coneflower and coral bells

Container plant list (number to plant)

A) Orange sedge Carex testacea (1)
B) Coral bells Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ (3)
C) Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea ‘Rubinstern’ (4)
D) Fountain grass Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’s Choice’ (1)
Container shown is 21 in. diameter

Published: Sept. 17, 2020
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