Cool Season Container Combos Annual Flower and Vegetable Varieties for Fall

Cool Season Container Combos
  • Posted October 17, 2014

If you're an annual plant, you are quite picky about temperature: you either like it hot or cool. Warm weather annuals start to shiver if the mercury dips below 50 degrees at night, but this is when cool weather species thrive.

  • The first key to making successful container combinations that last through the fall is, knowing which species to select.
  • The second is to find two, three, four or more varieties that will happily coexist in the same container.

Cooler Shades of Green

When it comes to vegetables, cool season plantings are all about greens and root crops. Lettuce, kale, collards, turnips, radishes and rutabagas are in; tomatoes and squashes, along with their many heat-loving relatives are out.

russian kale
Russian Kale

In the legume family, sugar snap peas thrive, but green beans don't stand a chance during the shorter days and long nights. Parsley and cilantro are available for culinary punch, but basil and dill will have to wait until May.


Flowers to Match the Harvest

Among container gardeners, pansies are much adored princesses; they wilt in the heat, but reign supreme from fall through spring. They come in nearly every color of the rainbow, offering choices to match the color palette of any container composition. Mixing pansy varieties containing deep oranges and yellows is particularly appropriate for fall.

red yellow bicolor pansies
Pansy 'Delta Blaze Mix'

While pansies stay low in their pots, snapdragons rise confidently above in white, yellow and other warm tones. Sweet alyssum and lobelia are two annual groundcovers that flower for months on end, spilling over the edge of their pots in a colorful waterfall.

pansy allyssum mix
Pansy and Alyssum combination

Nasturtiums, fast-growing annual vines with bright orange flowers, are natural choice for framing a planter full of winter vegetables.

swiss chard and nasturtium combo
Swiss Chard and Nasturtium combination

Easy Food-Flower Assemblies

Tall fall veggies—mustard greens, kale, collards and peas, for example—are perfect as centerpieces. Surround them with pansies or fragrant alyssum, which is known to keep insect pests at bay.

pansy and garlic chives
Pansies with Garlic Chives

Most of the other seasonal veggies are quite small in stature and best complimented with a backdrop of upright flowers, rather than mixed together. However, some are quite ornamental on their own. For a colorful potted salad bowl, mix light and dark green varieties lettuce with those that have colorful highlights, such as 'Oak Leaf" and “Speckled Trout" lettuce. In larger planters, try seeding “Mesclun Mix," a time-tested medley of tangy baby greens, together with edible cool-season flowers, which include pansies, nasturtiums and calendula.

mesclun mix
Mesclun Mix

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.

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Cool Season Container Combos

Quick Change Add–Ins

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For Spring:

Flowering Bulbs

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