Need to add some colour to your autumn garden to make up for all the withering leaves?
Containers of all kinds are a great way to introduce more plant life to your autumn garden. You can plant many cold-hardy flowers and plants from asters to winter lettuce and herbs. Plus, mixing and matching them can be fun. It can keep your hands busy doing what you enjoy so much—spending time outside in your garden.
Here are some autumn container garden ideas to get you started:
1. Hang a pansy flower basket
Got a spare wickerwork basket? Add potting soil, plant one or more varieties of garden pansies and hang it with a chain or rope where you can see it.
Pansies can last throughout winter, adding vibrant colour to your garden while other flowers wither or become dormant.
Tip: Make sure to line the basket with landscaping fabric or a similar material before putting in the soil and plants. Read more hanging basket tips.
2. Fill an old wooden bowl with flowers
Next, how about a table flower container that bursts with colour and texture while not taking up too much space?
You’ll need an old wooden dough bowl container or a similar long and flat vessel. Add mini pumpkins, kale, herbs, pansies, cabbage, sedum, and moss. Mix and match them until you’re happy with the contrast between the greens and purples.
Tip: You don’t have to make drainage holes in this one. Add the plants in their original plastic containers and be careful not to overwater them. If excess water fills the bowl, drain it by tilting it to one side over the ground.
3. Make a pumpkin flowerpot
For a quirky autumnal garden container, remove the seeds from a pumpkin, add a glass jar or plastic pot, and plant chrysanthemums, pansies, sunflowers, or any other flowers that contrast or complement its rich orange colour.
Tip: Use larger pumpkins to create flower arrangements at ground level, on decks, and on steps leading to an entranceway. Use smaller ones for sills, tables, or along the flat edge of a wooden railing.
4. Turn a half-barrel into a burst of colours
The wooden texture of an old barrel will create a rustic contrast with the bright hues bursting out of it. Mix and match colours and throw in a pumpkin for a splash of orange.
Because of its size, this type of autumn flower container is great for filling empty space in your garden. The effect is rich and bountiful.
Tip: Don’t forget to apply a sealant to the wood if you plan to leave the barrel exposed to the elements.
5. Repurpose a galvanised metal tub
Don’t throw away old metal tubs. You can upcycle them into attractive autumn garden containers and use them to enliven an entranceway, fill empty space on your patio, or add a splash of colour wherever it’s needed. It’s spacious enough for plants with beautiful leaves such as croton.
Tip: Get creative with your autumn flower arrangements. Throw in some maize cobs, wheat stalks, and other natural materials to add interesting texture.
6. Fill a vintage urn with evergreens
A vintage urn can be a timeless addition to your garden. A large one will provide enough space for a dwarf conifer and some companion plants like trailing ivy and ornamental cabbages.
Tip: Unless you know exactly the spot your urn will go in, look for one that’s not too heavy. That way, you’ll be able to move it depending on the light requirements of the plants you put in it.
7. Deck an old bicycle with colourful flowers
Fix an old bicycle in place with a metal rod or against a wall with clamps and hang wicker baskets from it. Fill these with chrysanthemums, pansies, or any other autumn flowers that catch your eye.
Tip: Fasten the baskets to the bicycle with weatherproof rope, wire, or clamps to make sure the wind won’t blow them down.
8. Add bright flowers to a galvanised steel bucket
Steel buckets are ideal containers. You can paint them or leave them as they are but make sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom.
Orange chrysanthemums capture the spirit of autumn like few other flowers can. They look great in a steel bucket, whether you hang it with chains from a beam or keep it on the floor.
Tip: You can cover the bottom of the bucket with a thin layer of pebbles to improve drainage and reduce the amount of soil that flows out of the bucket with any excess water.
9. Sow lettuce and other salad mixes in hollow concrete blocks
Breeze blocks and hollow dense concrete blocks are a durable and cost-effective way to increase your vegetable planting space. You can also use them as convenient containers for growing lettuce, rocket, and other salad mixes. Salad seeds don’t need much space and are fairly resistant to the cold.
Tip: If you arrange the blocks in a square or rectangle shape, you can create some extra planting space for green onions, spinach, and herbs in the middle.
10. Fill a wide container with sedum
Sedum tolerates the cold well and can survive frosts without any special care. Its fresh green colour can liven up any corner of your garden. Plant it in a beautiful stone or metal container where it can show off while the other plants bid their leaves and colours farewell until spring.
Tip: Water your outdoor potted sedum if the soil gets dry to keep it healthy but avoid excess moisture.
11. Mix greens with purples in a wide glazed container
For a cold-hardy autumn flower container, try combining a dwarf juniper with trailing ivy and purple pansies. It will brighten up your doorway or porch. You can also place it just about anywhere else in your garden so long as it’s safe from the wind. It won’t mind the cold.
Tip: In spring, you can move the juniper and other plants into the garden to give them more space. Next autumn, you can add some other hardy plants to the container.
12. Place asters in large pots on steps
Asters are reliable autumn flowers that come in many colours. They can broaden your garden colour palette and last well into winter. Add them to earthenware pots or other containers and try placing them along the edge of steps for a colourful display.
Tip: Keep asters in full to partial sun and water them at the base, taking care to avoid splashing the leaves or flowers.
13. Fill empty pots with herbs
If you’re like most gardeners, you’ll end up with some empty flowerpots in autumn after potted annuals fade away and bulbs enter dormancy. Rather than putting the pots away until spring, you can fill them with cold-hardy herbs like parsley, tarragon, catnip, caraway, or sorrel.
Transplant the herbs into the pots from your cold frame, or buy them from your local garden centre so you can enjoy them throughout winter.
Tip: You can leave potted cold-hardy herbs outside in sheltered areas but make sure they get enough sunlight.
14. Green up empty corners with ivy
Make up for the fading colours in your garden by planting vibrant ivy in spare pots and layer these to green up the corners that need it the most. Make sure to pick a cold-hardy variety, like English ivy or Boston ivy.
Tip: Use 5-inch-long stem cuttings to easily propagate ivy before the temperature drops. Dip the ends in a rooting hormone for faster results.
15. Create a leafy burst with ornamental kale and cabbage
Pack ornamental kale and cabbages tightly into a wide round container and let them grow at their will. You’ll end up with an impressive leafy display that will add much-needed interest to a fading autumn garden.
Tip: Both ornamental kale and cabbage are edible, but because they’re rather bitter, you may want to plant sweeter varieties in your greenhouse or polytunnel.
Do autumn garden containers need drainage?
Yes. All outdoor containers need unclogged drainage holes, whether they’re made from earthenware, stoneware, metal, wood, or other materials. Even if you won’t be watering your outdoor potted plants as often in autumn, you still need to make sure excess water doesn’t damage their roots. That includes rainwater and melted snow if you plan to leave the containers outside during winter.
What are the best containers for autumn and winter plants?
Stone, iron, wood, fibreglass, and heavy plastic containers are weather-resistant and frost-proof. Glazed ceramic pots are often winter-resistant too. Avoid using terracotta containers outside in winter as they absorb water and may crack during freezing temperatures.
How to insulate a flowerpot in autumn?
Use bubble wrap, hessian sacking, or light foam packing blankets to insulate pots and protect them and the plants inside from the cold. Not all outdoor container plants need insulation during late autumn, but if you’re worried that the cold may damage the roots, go ahead and do it. Better safe than sorry!