All Posts   Posted:   September 2, 2016 by Jennifer Williams - Visual Merchandiser

How many of you refresh your container plantings in the fall? Anyone? If not, you’re missing out, I love this time of year for planting! By now my summer annuals are starting to tire of me just as much as I’m tiring of them, and I’m ready to embrace the shorter days and cooler nights with new plants. And between you and me, I find the subtle combinations of texture that hardy perennials and shrubs provide in autumn to be more exciting than flashy annuals. I’m talking about graceful grasses, fluffy coral bells and sturdy euphorbias (just for starters) that come in every size and color you can imagine.

So we’ve already established that not many of you are thinking about planting this time of year, let’s talk about why that is . . .

Timing is important -  the earlier you can get those fall plants going (as soon as August) the better off they’ll be. Often times we hold onto our summer annuals until they’re on their last gasp, or well beyond (you know who you are) and even though fall plant selections are hardy enough to go through the winter they don’t really grow in the winter. That’s right, they do all their growing in the mild days of fall and then maintain during colder months but don’t actually actively put on new leaves. So if you wait until the weather has turned your new hardy starts will just sit there, pathetically stunted and struggling.

More bang for your buck – While summer annuals’ fate is commonly the compost pile; fall plants have many years of beautification potential, either in place in the container or even better planted in the ground in Spring. That way you’re investing in your landscape as you spruce up your deck pots for fall. You even get some equity in the bargain as the plant that goes into the ground is bigger than when you started.

Bulbs can be another super fun flower addition as a thrilling surprise just when you’re sure it will never stop raining (think February/March). Cheery container companions like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will be available to plant in early-mid September and they’re very easy to add to container plantings, just put them in first and then plant over top.

If you can’t live without that little happy flower mixed in from the start, add pansies or violas. From the name pansy you may think them to be too delicate for the blustery weather of fall and winter but in fact they are really the only flower that can freeze solid and then thaw out just as pretty as ever! Violas are just smaller, adorable versions of pansies and are especially well suited to really rainy/windy exposures.

Some of my all-time foliage favorites for fall:

GRASSES – Carex buchanaii ‘Red Rooster’, Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’, Carex morowii ‘Ice Dance’, Equisetum sp. (Horsetail) Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue), Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat), Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo).

HEUCHERA'S – Black Taffeta, Fire Chief, Forever Purple, Lime Rickey, Paprika, Peach Flambe, Rio.

EUPHORBIA'S – Ascot Rainbow, Black Bird, Red Martin (Rudolf), Glacier, Euphorbia rigida (Silver Spurge).

KALE – Redbore, Purple & White Peacock, Coral Prince & Queen, Dinosaur.

SHRUBS – Lonicera ‘Lemon Beauty’, Lonicera ‘Twiggy’, Vacinnium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry), Hebe ‘Quicksilver’, Hebe ‘Red Edge’, Hebe ‘James Sterling’, Nandina ‘Moyer’s Red’, Sarcococca ruscifolia.

How many of you refresh your container plantings in the fall? Anyone? If not, you’re missing out, I love this time of year for planting! By now my summer annuals are starting to tire of me just as much as I’m tiring of them, and I’m ready to embrace the shorter days and cooler nights with new plants. And between you and me, I find the subtle combinations of texture that hardy perennials and shrubs provide in autumn to be more exciting than flashy annuals. I’m talking about graceful grasses, fluffy coral bells and sturdy euphorbias (just for starters) that come in every size and color you can imagine.

So we’ve already established that not many of you are thinking about planting this time of year, let’s talk about why that is . . .

Timing is important -  the earlier you can get those fall plants going (as soon as August) the better off they’ll be. Often times we hold onto our summer annuals until they’re on their last gasp, or well beyond (you know who you are) and even though fall plant selections are hardy enough to go through the winter they don’t really grow in the winter. That’s right, they do all their growing in the mild days of fall and then maintain during colder months but don’t actually actively put on new leaves. So if you wait until the weather has turned your new hardy starts will just sit there, pathetically stunted and struggling.

More bang for your buck – While summer annuals’ fate is commonly the compost pile; fall plants have many years of beautification potential, either in place in the container or even better planted in the ground in Spring. That way you’re investing in your landscape as you spruce up your deck pots for fall. You even get some equity in the bargain as the plant that goes into the ground is bigger than when you started.

Bulbs can be another super fun flower addition as a thrilling surprise just when you’re sure it will never stop raining (think February/March). Cheery container companions like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will be available to plant in early-mid September and they’re very easy to add to container plantings, just put them in first and then plant over top.

If you can’t live without that little happy flower mixed in from the start, add pansies or violas. From the name pansy you may think them to be too delicate for the blustery weather of fall and winter but in fact they are really the only flower that can freeze solid and then thaw out just as pretty as ever! Violas are just smaller, adorable versions of pansies and are especially well suited to really rainy/windy exposures.

Some of my all-time foliage favorites for fall:

GRASSES – Carex buchanaii ‘Red Rooster’, Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’, Carex morowii ‘Ice Dance’, Equisetum sp. (Horsetail) Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue), Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat), Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo).

HEUCHERA'S – Black Taffeta, Fire Chief, Forever Purple, Lime Rickey, Paprika, Peach Flambe, Rio.

EUPHORBIA'S – Ascot Rainbow, Black Bird, Red Martin (Rudolf), Glacier, Euphorbia rigida (Silver Spurge).

KALE – Redbore, Purple & White Peacock, Coral Prince & Queen, Dinosaur.

SHRUBS – Lonicera ‘Lemon Beauty’, Lonicera ‘Twiggy’, Vacinnium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry), Hebe ‘Quicksilver’, Hebe ‘Red Edge’, Hebe ‘James Sterling’, Nandina ‘Moyer’s Red’, Sarcococca ruscifolia.