Gorgeous container plantings are not something that should be limited to summer, even in cooler zones. Switching out heat-loving “summer" plants for some that thrive in cooler temps allows you to extend the longevity and value of your container plantings. Because you can likely leave some of your existing plants in place, and find end of season deals on additional ones, an autumn container change-up is a quick and inexpensive way to keep things fresh and inviting.
Using both perennials and annuals will give you a more generous palette of color, texture and form. Among the many annuals that do well in autumn containers are pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kales and cabbages, and calibrachoa. Perennials that are strong players in autumn arrangements include ornamental grasses, upright sedums, asters, blanket flowers, lamb's ear and Heuchera.
While the hues of autumn leaves and pumpkin patches do suggest obvious colors for autumn containers, a mix of red, orange and yellow isn't the only option. Try teaming deep purple, burgundy and dusty rose with silver, lavender or violet blue to reflect the earthiness and cool, fresh skies of autumn. Whatever color scheme you choose, mingle a variety of forms, textures and growth habits to create the most lush, eye-pleasing display.
Planting and care of autumn containers requires the same basics as for spring or summer; well-draining potting mix, feed and water. When changing things up in an already planted container you may need to top the potting mix off if it seems to have dwindled over the summer. A dose of slow release fertilizer at planting should last for 6 to 8 weeks and, for those who live where the weather allows for longer life of container plantings, a second feeding should be given at that point. Water needs will likely be less for autumn plantings, but containers should still be checked regularly and watered consistently, per plant label directions.