by Erin Schanen

There was a time when it seemed that all containers looked the same: a spike, geraniums and some trailing vinca vine. That was fine, but thank goodness that mold was broken, making way for the bold, beautiful and creative container designs we see today. And just as we’re no longer tied to a handful of plants for summer containers, there’s a whole world of plant options for fall containers as well. No longer are the options limited to mums and ornamental kale. There are many annuals that can handle a nip of frost without batting an eye, including Supertunias and Sweet Alyssum, and that means that even in my zone 5b Midwestern garden, containers I plant now will likely last until late October (or even longer as last year our first killing frost didn’t come until the third week in November). And there’s nothing that says you have to change out an entire summer container. If parts of it are still looking good and can withstand some colder temperatures, keep those plants and add some new annuals to freshen it up.

That’s what I did with one container I recently rejuvenated with a fall look. The Graceful Grasses Purple Fountain Grass I planted in spring was still looking great—you can’t beat those fluffy red flowers—so I left that, but removed the rest of the fading annuals and scraped out some of the spent potting soil. After replacing that with fresh potting mix, I added in some bright annuals in fall colors: Lemon Coral Sedum, Bright Lights Yellow African daisy

and the fun little Sangria ornamental pepper. I loved the purple fountain grass in that combination so much, that I got another, but this time matched it with

Supertunia Black Cherry, which has dark, fallish red flowers, and the frothy Diamond Frost Euphorbia.

 For a brand-new planting, I wanted to mix rich jewel-toned colors. I used Sangria ornamental pepper as the centerpiece as I just love how the multicolored peppers point skyward until the branches bend to their weight. I surrounded that with Dark Knight Lobularia

alternated with Lemon Coral Sedum for a bright spot on the patio. Then I added in a few curly willow branches for a little bit of height. You’ll need to water your fall containers, but you may find that every few days suffices, but other than that all you need to do is throw on a flannel shirt, sit back with your pumpkin spice latte and enjoy a beautiful and colorful autumn.