Autumn Container Combinations

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Something about the chill in the air and the arrival of rich harvest colors that warms our hearts! And as some hate to see summer come to an end, we find renewed energy in updating containers with the colors of the season. It’s easy to do, and it encourages us to celebrate the crisp hues and abundant harvests that surround us this time of year.

  • When purchasing new plants, go for immediate impact because plants will not grow at the same rate they did in the summer months and will not fill in as quickly. Select larger plants or use more of them.
  • Just as you would with your other seasonal containers, consider cultural requirements when planning your combinations. Select plants with similar water, fertilizer, and light needs.
  • Perhaps some of the plants that are already in your container continue to look fresh, like a dracaena spike, grass or ivy. If so, leave them in the container and design a planting that will include them.


Mimicking the colors found in nature, this classic recipe combines the rich garden mum orange with the deep tones of tall purple fountain grass. The frosty leaves of dusty miller complement these two plants nicely, and will stand up to Jack Frost himself. If your container has enough space, consider adding another block of color, white garden mum, or the colorful foliage of a flowering kale.

Orange Mum, Purple Fountain Grass, Dusty Miller, White Mum, Flowering Kale


With so many unique plants available in the fall, it is easy to create a container with “wow!” power. Try placing a purple aster, or purple osteospermum as your focal point and add an ornamental pepper plant. Its ornamental fruit turns from deep purple to red as it matures: truly an explosion of autumn color! Chartreuse-colored sweet potato vine will complement the rich colors while adding a splash of brightness and texture. The new leaves of bronze-colored sweet potato vine unfold light green and then darken to bronze. Tuck in a few orange pansies and wow! Let the colors and textures lead you, because anything goes in a trendy arrangement!

Purple Aster, Purple Osteospermum, Purple Ornamental Pepper, Gold Pansies, Chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine

All Foliage

Flowers will not be missed in an all-foliage combination, particularly when the leaves and stems provide all the color and show that flowers typically would. Lysimachia ‘Goldilocks’ (creeping jenny) has a beautiful trailing habit and offsets the rich burgundy of flowering kale varieties. Add purple fountain grass for some height, and fill the rest of the pot with colorful heuchera (coral bells), such as ‘Colors’, with its reddish purple veining and silvery overlay. Can you say “interesting?”

Creeping Jenny, Flowering Kale, Heuchera/Coral Bells, Purple Fountain Grass


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