33 Fall Planter Ideas for a Colorful Season-Long Garden Display

colorful fall container garden
Photo: Kritsada Panichgul

Liven up your fall garden with these stunning container garden ideas. Get creative with seasonal favorites such as mums, flowering kale, and pansies, or play with dynamic combinations of annuals, perennials, and grasses that also make excellent fall container plants.

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Add Height with Grasses

Towering Grass container garden
Jacob Fox

Use the height of ornamental grasses to your advantage to balance the proportions of a large fall planter box. Rich gold, orange, and purple hues pair perfectly with a farmhouse-style wooden planter to decorate this porch.

A. 'Northwind' switchgrass

B. Chrysanthemum

C. Golden barberry

D. Cordyline

E. Trailing sedum

02 of 33

Forgo Flowers for Colorful Foliage

Showstopper flowers container garden
Laurie Black

This beautiful fall planter idea doesn't rely on flowers, only colorful leaves. The planter's rich tapestry of hues and textures will last well past first frost.

A. Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise'

B. 'Charity' grape holly

C. 'Stoplight' foamy bells

D. 'Nagoya' kale

03 of 33

Evoke Harvest Season with Gourds

Harvest Hues container garden
Cameron Sadeghpour

Dish up the season's bounty by planting frost-tolerant coralbells and Swiss chard in the center of a galvanized pan, then surround the plants with a colorful collection of gourds and mini squash. This easy fall container garden idea can also be adapted to any available planter.

A. Swiss chard

B. 'Pinot Gris' coralbells

04 of 33

Create a Long-Lasting Display with Peppers and Pansies

Autumnal Textures container garden
Cameron Sadeghpour

Plant an autumn-inspired container you can enjoy until winter sets in. The broad, fuzzy foliage of silver sage contrasts with the slender, arching leaves of sedge. Long-lasting ornamental peppers are set off by almost-black pansies to complement your Halloween decor.

A. Silver sage

B. 'Frosted Curls' sedge

C. 'Bowles' Black' pansy

D. Hot peppers

05 of 33

Choose a Stylish Container

Burgundy Beauty container garden
Laurie Black

Pick a planter you really love, then let it inspire your fall planter idea. Consider a brightly colored pot to help bring some extra oomph to a gray winter day. Select plants with foliage or stems with similar or contrasting hues. In this container, bright red coralbells almost match the container color, while the rest of the plants provide contrast.

A. Blueberry

B. 'Lacinato' kale

C. 'Jade Princess' millet

D. 'Berry Smoothie' coralbells

E. 'Orchid Frost' deadnettle

06 of 33

Maximize Impact with Lots of Plants

Purple Punch container garden
Laurie Black

Use at least one plant with height, one with bright colors, and one with bold textures in each container garden design. There won't be time for plants to grow in, so pack the pot full for immediate impact. Honeysuckle, leucothoe, and coralbells fill this container with lush foliage, while little bluestem adds texture and rises above the rest.

A. Little bluestem

B. 'Twiggy Dwarf' honeysuckle

C. 'Rainbow' leucothoe

D. 'Berry Smoothie' coralbells

07 of 33

Combine Different Plant Textures

Kale and hardy container garden
Laurie Black

Flowers are fleeting, so keep the show going all season long by choosing fall container plants with foliage that looks lovely in autumn. Grasses, kale, Heuchera, and Heucherella are colorful and textural. They can take a slight frost, so they're dependable anchors for fall pots.

A. 'Purple Lacinato' kale

B. Orange sedge

C. 'Sundance' Mexican orange blossom

D. 'Roy's Red' coprosma

E. 'Sorbet' viola

F. 'Stoplight' foamy bells

08 of 33

Accent with Colorful Twigs

Standing Tall container garden
Laurie Black

Long, straight stems like these from redtwig dogwoods are an easy way to add pizzazz to fall containers. Paint them for even more color, and use a tall, narrow container to heighten the effect.

A. 'Purple Baron' ornamental millet

B. 'Morning Light' maidengrass

C. Variegated hebe

D. Mugo dwarf pine

E. Wintergreen

09 of 33

Plant With Colorful, Low-Maintenance Grasses

Grow Glorious Grasses container garden
Marty Baldwin

Ornamental grasses are a no-brainer for adding movement and color to fall gardens. Keep them in mind for your container plantings, too. Most grasses look great in pots. Here, purple fountaingrass and blue fescue create a lovely contrast for pink mums and yellow strawflower.

A. Blue fescue

B. 'Cecilia' chrysanthemum

C. 'Sundaze Golden Yellow' strawflower

D. Purple fountaingrass

10 of 33

Go for Bold Colors in Smaller Containers

Make An Accent fall flowers container garden
Kim Cornelison

Small containers are great because you can easily move them around into new arrangements, use them to fill gaps in the garden, or change up your landscape's look. This container is a perfect match for a festive series of small pumpkins.

A. 'Magellan Orange' zinnia

B. Deadnettle

C. 'Panola Orange' pansy

D. Rosemary

E. 'Prestige Scarlet' celosia

11 of 33

Fill in with Dried Flowers

Mix Materials flower container garden
Helen Norman

One secret to great container gardens is to combine live plants with dried ones. Here, dried flowers from oakleaf hydrangeas on top and bigleaf hydrangeas on the bottom add grace and interest to this charming fall planting idea.

A. Pig squeak

B. 'Xenox' sedum

C. 'Pink Crystals' rubygrass

12 of 33

Try Perennials with Interesting Foliage

Plant Perennials container garden
William N. Hopkins

Perennials can be the highlight of fall container gardens, especially if you choose varieties with flashy foliage. Treat them as annuals at the end of the season, or get them in the ground as soon as you can before it freezes.

A. 'Efanthia' euphorbia

B. 'Hameln' fountaingrass

C. 'Flying Colors Trailing Red' diascia

D. 'Dolce Creme Brulee' coralbells

13 of 33

Make a Bold Statement With Colorful Stems

Forgo Flowers container garden
Marty Baldwin

Sometimes stems can be more colorful than leaves. In this fall container idea, Swiss chard's eye-catching stems steal the show from the more muted hues of the foliage.

A. 'Bright Lights' swiss chard

B. 'Pigeon Purple' flowering kale

C. 'Marmalade' coralbells

14 of 33

Combine Plants That Have Similar Fall Hues

Add Formal Flair flowers container garden
Kim Cornelison

Make a statement at your entrance with a classic garden urn or two. Use flowers and foliage with similar autumn hues to create a warm welcome.

A. 'Burgundy Giant' fountaingrass

B. 'Sedona' coleus

C. 'Zesty Scarlet' zinnia

D. 'Cordoba' black-eyed Susan

E. 'Superbells Tequila Sunrise' calibrachoa

15 of 33

Favorite Fall Planter Idea

Keep It Cool container garden
Marty Baldwin

Asters and kale are surefire picks for a great fall show, and silvery foliage from 'Icicles' licorice plant is a perfect end-of-the-season accent. The annual flowers add late-season color, while kale helps fill out the container and create a lush fall arrangement.

A. 'Purple Viking' aster

B. 'Kamome Red' flowering kale

C. 'Icicles' licorice plant

16 of 33

Match Foliage with Mum Flowers

Utilize Rich Colors container garden
Marty Baldwin

Celebrate the season with bronze and deep purple tones, which look especially regal when paired with bold, bright colors from mums in this fall container garden.

A. Leatherleaf sedge

B. 'Golden Andrea' chrysanthemum

C. 'Jester' purple millet

17 of 33

Contrast Light and Dark Colors

Go Bold with Color container garden
Marty Baldwin

Add unexpected colors and contrasts to your fall landscape with container garden plants that feature soft pink flowers or silver leaves.

A. 'Soft Cheryl' chrystanthemum

B. Dusty miller

C. 'Redbor' purple kale

18 of 33

Choose a Color Theme

color theme container garden
William N. Hopkins

This fall planter idea is all about capitalizing on a color theme to look cohesive. Terra-cotta hues echo through the pot, flowers, and foliage.

A. 'Efanthia' euphorbia

B. 'Ulrich' coleus

C. Indiangrass

D. 'Festive Ursula' chrysanthemum

19 of 33

Mix Up Kale Textures and Colors

Play Up Texture container garden
Marty Baldwin

Frost-tolerant flowering kale is perfect for adding color and texture to late-season containers. Try a handful of varieties to create a dynamic display.

A. 'Osaka White' flowering kale

B. 'Pigeon Purple' flowering kale

C. 'Redbor' flowering kale

20 of 33

Use a Unique Container

Use An Interesting Container for the garden
Peter Krumhardt

Boost a set of great plants with a fun container, such as an old, weathered birdbath. Or consider a bushel basket, wooden crate, or other material with character.

A. 'Golden Globe' loosestrife

B. 'Tiny Toes' coleus

C. 'Blushing Emily' chrysanthemum

D. Kale

E. 'Mona Lavender' plectranthus

F. 'Dolce Creme Brulee' coralbells

G. 'Pink Champagne' rubygrass

21 of 33

Accent With Accessories

art in container garden
Peter Krumhardt

Give your fall containers a little something extra by adding garden ornaments or other artistic elements. A gourd birdhouse, for example, ties into the colors and lends additional height to this container garden idea.

A. 'Cheryl' chrysanthemum

B. Sedge

C. 'Aurea' golden creeping Jenny

D. 'Icicle' pansy

E. 'Rubrum' purple fountaingrass

22 of 33

Celebrate Soft Colors

Soft Colors container garden
Peter Krumhardt

Container flower gardening is all about balance. Contrast autumn's bold reds, oranges, and yellows with blooms that boast soft shades of pink, lavender, and burgundy.

A. 'Osaka Purple' flowering kale

B. 'Icicle' pansy

C. 'Debonaire' chrysanthemum

D. 'Red Riding Hood' purple fountaingrass

23 of 33

Rely on Mums for Bold Seasonal Color

Instant Charm container garden
Kim Cornelison

Kale and mums are always a reliable fall planter idea. But nothing says you can't mix it up a little by adding in a few other plants to really set them off. Here, a russet red mum makes a great contrast for a purple calibrachoa in a galvanized container. These plants would also work well in a fall hanging basket.

A. 'Cabaret Purple' calibrachoa

B. 'Brandi' chrysanthemum

C. 'Osaka Purple' flowering kale

D. 'Hameln' fountaingrass

E. Sage

24 of 33

Keep Planters Simple

Simple container garden
Peter Krumhardt

Even a few fall container plants can create a beautiful mini garden. This one offers a bonus of the strong fragrance of the flowering stock.

A. 'Wonderland Mulberry Mix' sweet alyssum

B. 'Osaka Purple' flowering kale

C. 'Vintage Lavender' flowering stock

25 of 33

Go Bold and Beautiful

Cheerful Flowers container garden
Marty Baldwin

No matter the season, yellow shines in the landscape. Pansies are some of the best plants for fall because they flower well past the first frost and many varieties have yellow petals.

A. 'Panola Yellow Blotch' pansy

B. 'Icicles' licorice plant

C. English ivy

26 of 33

Make a Bountiful Blooming Window Box

Colorful Window Box container garden
Peter Krumhardt

Mums are some of the most colorful and versatile fall plants. Use them to fill your window boxes for a burst of autumn color.

A. 'Draga' chrysanthemum

B. 'Denise' chrysanthemum

C. 'Osaka Purple' flowering kale

D. 'Glacier' variegated ivy

27 of 33

Rely on Perennials for Fall Color

fountain grass coral bells and golden creeping jenny
Helen Norman

This trio of perennials offers fall colors that make a dramatic statement in a container garden. To overwinter the perennials, sink the pot into the ground or move it to a cool spot over the winter.

A: Fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) — 1

B: Coralbells (Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’) — 2

C: Golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) — 2

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Accent Earth Tones with a Pop of Bright Color

Earthy Vibe container garden
Andre' Baranowski

A simple gathering of cold-resistant ruffled green kale (Brassica oleracea), striking magenta chrysanthemum, and variegated Iresine herbstii 'Aureoreticulata' evokes an autumnal mood in earthy containers.

A. Ruffled green kale

B. Magenta chrysanthemum

C. 'Aureoreticulata' beefsteak plant

29 of 33

Pair Mums and Grasses with Similar Hues

Pop of Color container garden
Andre' Baranowski

Tassled purple fountaingrass adds height, texture, and just enough color to contrast with vivid magenta chrysanthemums in a simple terra-cotta pot.

A. 'Rubrum' purple fountaingrass

B. Magenta chrysanthemum

30 of 33

Combine Colorful Fall Favorites

Container Garden with letters
Kritsada Panichgul

A pair of planters (one 12 inches wide, the other 18 inches wide) makes fall memorable with an eye-catching blue glaze that perfectly contrasts orange pumpkins. The cool color of the pots harmonizes beautifully with the kale foliage and mum flowers. The pink tones in the festival grass echo those of the mums, and its spiky leaves add a contrasting texture to the whole arrangement.

A: Chrysanthemum 'Beth Violet'

B: Kale (Brassica oleracea 'Chidori White')

C: Aster 'Viking'

D: Kale (Brassica oleracea 'Toscano')

E: Festival grass (Cordyline 'Jurred')

31 of 33

Mix Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit

Ornamental flowers container garden
Andre' Baranowski

Ornamental black pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl') makes an outstanding display in a rusty cast-iron pot with pink verbena, bold purple kale, and ornamental cabbage.

A. 'Black Pearl' ornamental black pepper

B. Pink verbena

C. Purple kale

D. Ornamental cabbage

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Use Different Shades of One Color

Orange flowers container garden
Andre' Baranowski

An airy mass of long-blooming coreopsis 'Mango Punch' combines with matching chrysanthemums and a few berried spikes of ornamental black pepper in a footed urn.

A. 'Mango Punch' coreopsis

B. Chrysanthemum

C. Ornamental black pepper

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Add Fragrance to the Mix

Container Garden with letters
Erica George Dines

This fall flower and foliage container breaks the typical color scheme of gold, orange, and red. A tall, fragrant rosemary plant is a focal point, set off by colorful asters, deep-green ivy, and pink mums.

A: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

B: Days Aster

C: Chrysanthemum ‘Marsha Pink’

D: Majestic Giant pansy (Viola ‘Majestic Giant’)

E: English ivy (Hedera helix)

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