While anytime is a good time to plant, Fall is particularly rewarding because of the immediate results. It’s a time when what you see is what you get. Leaves are changing colour, berries are beaming, summer flowers are still hanging around and an entirely new plant palette gets the spotlight.
Fall plantings have a couple of benefits.
Benefits of Fall Planting
First, it’s a great time to get Trees, Shrubs and Perennials planted so that they get an extra couple of months of rooting before they go dormant for the winter. Then in Spring, their roots are established and they are ready to give you a beautiful Spring show. If you wait to plant in Spring, you reduce the risk of winter damage, but your plant will sit there for a couple of weeks or months while it establishes its roots. Planting now gives you a head start.
Second, you get instant gratification because you are planting for right now, not the future. This is particularly true for container plantings, front door décor and your Thanksgiving and Halloween decorating.
Third, it gives you motivation to clean-up the summer stuff that just seems to accumulate in the yard, or on the deck, and gives everything an attractive seasonal refresh. We all need that clean-up kick start... don't we :)
Stuff Them In
In a lot of ways, Fall Planters are easier and more gratifying because we don’t have the guilt and the angst about a plants long term care and health. Simply stuff as many as you can into a planter to make it yell… LOOK AT ME – I’M BEAUTIFUL!
By the time the plants wonder what hit them and why they don't have any room to grow, it will be nearly November and you can redo your planters with attractive stems, berries and colourful winter greens for the Holiday season. For perennials and shrubs you choose, plant them in the garden now or wait until Spring. When the frosts hit, have no mercy and just toss out the seasonal annuals and colour.
There are a couple of ways to create Fall planters. The easy way is to mono-plant. Fill your planter with the same plant. Mass for effect. Pack them in tight. The grouping will create interest because of its mass and similar colour palette. Odd numbers work. Try planting 1, 3 or 5 of the same plant in a pot. This style particularly attractive with grasses, mums and perennials like Heuchera.
Thriller, Filler, Spiller
The other way is to follow the traditional thriller, filler, spiller model.
To start, put something big in the middle that is the attention grabbing, dominant thriller. Ideal fall plants include: grasses, conifers, upright sedums, and Japanese maples just to name a few. Mums make good thrillers, but expect to haul them out when they are finished blooming or get opened up by the weather. Scale of planting is important. Try to establish a ratio of 1/3 planter height and 2/3 plant height. In other words, the thriller should be taller than the planter. This is not a rule, it just tends to look good.
Next, add the fillers. These are small to medium sized plants that accent the thriller. Usually fillers are planted around the thriller in odd numbers, for example 3,5 or more depending on the size of your planter. Excellent fillers include Pansies, Violas, Dusty Miller, Ornamental Cabbage or Kale, Decorative Peppers, Heucheras, Berry Plants Like Wintergreen, Bud Blooming Heathers and even mid-sized grasses. Two grasses that are always extremely popular are Carex 'Evergold' and Black Mondo grass. A few other fall favourites include windflowers (Anemone) and Dark Leaved Euphorbias like 'Blackbird'. Virtually anything can work as long as it doesn’t take too much dominance from the Thriller.
Don't forget to add non-living things to your planters as well. Gourds and Pumpkins make excellent additions to nearly every fall container.
The spillers are smaller, pendulous or trailing plants that cascade over the edges of your planter. Ivy is an easy answer, as are trailing sedums or a classic favourite, Golden Creeping Jenny, also known as Lysimachia. These look good when asymmetrically. For example, only on one side of the planter.
If you find the height of your planter lacking, add something tall. For example a tall grass, corn stalks, or curly twiggy branches. It's a look that just seems to fit the season.
Some of my favourite plants for fall planters include:
|Yews / Boxwoods
||Pansies / Violas
||Ornamental Cabbage / Kale
|Tall Upright Grasses
||Bud Blooming Heathers
Blueberry Plants (Colourful Foliage & Stems)
|Winter Green (Gaultheria)
|Twigs, Sticks & Stems
Pumpkins & Gourds
Bulb Bonus Points
For bonus points, drop some spring blooming bulbs in your planters so you have an extra season on interest in the early spring! Maybe some Winter Aconites, Crocus, Snowdrops or even a few early blooming Daffodils!
So what are you waiting for? The temperatures are cooler and the rains have returned. Now is the time to plant up your fall planters! If you’re strapped for time, give one of our folks a call and we can have something gorgeous planted up for you.