Everyone knows fall means pumpkins, cornstalks, hay rack rides and MUMS! What about the unsung heros though of your fall containers? Celosia, grasses, kales and cabbage, swiss chard and pansies. There are so many more that give you extended bloom time and MORE COLOR. (Really though, who doesn’t love color?!) You can do some more that just mums. Don’t get me wrong, I love mums just as much as the next fall lover, but sometimes you just need a little more.
So let’s go through the basics here. There are 3 different categories that I lump these plants into: Foliage, Bloom Extenders and Cold Weather Tolerant. These are in addition to the Mum category. I love to use a mix of all of them in my pots. It gives me color all season long, the different textures create another layer of visual interest and the pots last well into November.
The foliage category includes anything that doesn’t flower. Some favorites are kale, cabbage, swiss chard, ornamental grass, and ornamental peppers. Adding in some foliage to your pots gives you texture and another layer of visual interest when the blooming plants are between blooms. Extra bonus is that the kales, cabbages and ornamental grasses can be used all winter long. One of my favorites this year is Bright Lights Swiss Chard; it has a green leafy texture up top but the stalks are bright orange, pink and yellow. It pulls out the colors from the other plants in the pot. It might not look like much as a single pot but I have put in almost all of my containers this season, just to it boosts the other colors in the pot- because you know I’m all about the color.
So then we move to the bloom extenders. These plants give you more bang for your buck in you fall pots. Mums usually give you 1 really awesome bloom span a season, then it tapers off. Mixing in these plants helps to give you more blooms longer. This year I have been using Angelonia, Lantana, 3 different kinds of Celosia, Black Eyed Susans and pansies. Yes these are some of our top choices for spring planters as well, because they get the job done! I choose these based on the color scheme or style of the pot. Some will add height while others mound and some just give a spot of color to the bare spot- either way they keep blooming for weeks.
Cold Weather Tolerant:
There is some overlap here. Cold weather strikes us here on a whim, those surprise first frosts really do a number on our decor. So I recommend adding in a few plants that can tolerate those really chilly nights. Kales, Cabbages and pansies are the go to plants. Ornamental grasses and Millet grass usually do pretty well too. As the nights get cooler, some of these plants will start to change their color tones and give the pot a new dimension.
Now how to care for these beauties!
Like with your spring pots, they need consistent watering and fertilizer to bloom and fill in. During the beginning of fall the days can still get quite warm (like this heat wave of upper 80’s), you will need to check the pots daily and most likely water daily- depending on your watering style. As the days become more mild, you can water less but still as needed. Most of this plants like a damp soil- not dried out and not sopping wet. I like to add my fertilizer in when I do the initial planting. I use either the Dr. Earth Blooming or All Purpose fertilizer- whichever I have on hand. I have been using Dr. Earth for over 5 years now and I really like that it feeds for 4-6 weeks and doesn’t add sodium to my soil, like other brands do.
Feel free to bring in pictures of your pots (or the pots, if they aren’t too big) and either Stephanie or I would be happy to help you put together a combination that will last well into pumpkin season.