There's something special about creating inspirational fall planter ideas as summer makes way for autumn. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the new season but you do need to be a little more creative with your ideas, especially if you want to come up with a look that will last.
From welcoming planters in the porch and suggestions for balconies and decks to adding a color pop, we've rounded up some inspirational ways to glow up your outdoor fall decor with some seasonal containers. Even better, all our choices are low maintenance too so you can sit back and simply enjoy them without having to worry about maintaining them.
'Redecorate your garden by refreshing containers with seasonal plants such as pansies, violas and wallflowers that will last through winter and brighten up your garden in the cold months,' says Marcus Eyles, Dobbies’ horticultural director.
Welcome in the season with these stylish fall planter ideas
It might be a key time for ticking off some jobs on your fall gardening checklist, but it's also the perfect opportunity to create stylish planters that will look good right through the season.
That can be everything from injecting a simple color pop to a planter on the porch, or swapping out summer bedding plants for something more seasonal. Whatever your planter style, you'll be sure to find a look you love in our round-up.
1. Add an easy evergreen to your fall planter
A smart easy-care evergreen like skimmia offers year round interest for your container gardening ideas. These shrubs are neat and compact, feature glossy foliage whatever the season, and they're one of the best plants for autumn berries as the spring flowers are followed by pretty red or white berries.
If you buy pots of skimmia from the garden center or online they can be planted at any time of year, but fall is particularly good as the soil will be moister. Plant in a container only a couple of inches larger than the pot it came in filled with multi-purpose compost.
After three years, your skimmia should be repotted into a larger container to keep it looking good for longer.
2. Give your yard a lift with a pop of vibrant pink
Evergreen foliage and pretty, long-lasting flowers make winter heather a must-have for fall planters. Include one or two in your container and they will make an eye-catching display, either on their own as a centerpiece for your fall front porch ideas, or combined with other plants for a seasonal scheme.
Choose compact varieties of heather like Erica carnea in shades of hot pink, such as 'Myretoun Ruby'. It has masses of deep pink flowers, maturing to magenta then crimson from mid winter to late spring.
Heathers like full sun, and well-drained acidic soil, although they will tolerate mildly alkaline soil types. Check the compost regularly, as heathers in containers can dry out really quickly.
3. Plant up ornamental grasses in metallic pots
Ornamental grasses will add movement and late-season interest to your fall planter ideas. Tall and elegant, these are excellent perennial plants for pots as the arching plumes can be really appreciated when displayed in containers. Many herbaceous plants die back during fall, but ornamental grasses continue to provide color and interest throughout the season.
'Tactile, verdant and bringing movement and late season interest to planting schemes, ornamental grasses are a must for any garden design,' says garden designer Stuart Wallace of landscape designers Bowles & Wyer (opens in new tab).
There are plenty of types of ornamental grass that work brilliantly in fall containers, but colorful burgundy red fountain grass (Pennisetum 'Rubrum') is a natural choice, filling the pot with its fountain-like foliage. From midsummer to late fall, the striking purple flower spikes rise above the arching foliage in a spectacular architectural display.
4. Keep summer container displays going into fall
Pelargoniums (also known as geraniums) are one of the best container plants around, and are often at their best when temperatures start to cool down. With the right care their form can be maintained until the first frosts. You don't have to replant your pots come fall either.
Light levels might change, meaning a planter may only get a few hours of direct sunlight a day in fall. If you can find a sunny spot, you will get more flowers, despite the low autumn light.
'Pelargoniums are robust and easy to care for, with a long flowering season that means they will bloom well into fall,' says Dr Suzanne Lux, spokesperson for Pelargonium for Europe (opens in new tab). 'This makes them the ideal choice for balcony plants, or for use on patios, terraces and other areas close to the house where you want to enjoy your outdoor space for as long as possible, even while the seasons change.'
'If you want to try to overwinter your pelargoniums, leave them outside as long as possible,' says Suzanne. 'Fresh air and sunlight are always better than overwintering indoors. If temperatures remain consistently low, move your pelargoniums into an overwintering spot such as a conservatory or greenhouse.'
5. Combine lasting color and texture with a stylish duo
Achieving a good looking container can be as easy as combining just two different plants that complement each other. Shallow bowl-style stone or terracotta garden planters are perfect for filling with long flowering pansies and violas and make a great centerpiece for garden tables. Partner them with interesting foliage such as a frosted fern and this hardy combo of plants will cheer you along through the dark, early months of the year.
'This planting combination prefers dappled shade and a sheltered spot,' says plant expert Sarah Raven (opens in new tab). 'Keep moist until established and apply a liquid feed fortnightly through the summer. Deadhead flowers regularly to encourage repeat flowering all summer long.'
Violas and pansies are the super stars of summer container ideas too.
6. Choose on-trend succulents for a sheltered spot
The trend for succulent gardens is as popular as ever. If you took your succulent collection outside for a summer break don't be in too much of a hurry to take them back inside though.
Depending on where you live and how sheltered your garden is many varieties of succulent are tolerant of cooler temperatures and will stay outside until late fall and some even all year round. Find out more about how to grow succulents to make sure you choose the right one for your yard.
A porch or windowsill will always work if you don't have a conservatory or greenhouse to overwinter the more delicate ones.
Sempervivums are a variety of succulent that do well all year round outside so are a great choice. There are many to choose from and a selection always looks great planted up in a shallow container.
7. Include a vibrant fall planter in your Halloween tablescaping
The trend for Halloween tablescapes has never been more popular, so if you're seeking inspiration for your Halloween decor ideas this year why not choose a themed fall planter as a centerpiece to wow your guests. You can't beat the classic Halloween color combo of orange and black, which looks stunning every time.
Decorative chilli plants are prized for their colorful fruit in autumnal shades of red, orange and yellow, and there may even be multiple colors present on one plant at the same time as they ripen at different stages.
Choose chillies in shades of orange to bring an ornamental touch to a black planter for Halloween and use it a centerpiece for your outdoor table decorating ideas. Chilli plants will continue to fruit well into fall, so you can pick what you need and dry the rest for other decorative touches throughout the year.
8. Make foliage the star of your fall planter
It's easy to choose a color palette focused on the glorious sunset shades of the season but sometimes you might find yourself yearning for a cooler color combination to add a more elegant touch to your fall planter ideas. This is often where foliage plants come into play.
You can't beat coral bells (heuchera) for autumn containers and there are so many reasons to love them. As the temperature starts to drop their foliage gets brighter, and they come in gorgeous colors ranging from almost-black to silver, crimson, purple, pink, orange, yellow, lime and gray.
Also look out for the neater varieties with prettily patterned foliage, or types with subtle color changes as we move through the seasons. They are good fall planter partners for sedum, bergenia and ornamental grasses too.
9. Plant a container herb garden for fall
Your herb garden doesn't have to end with summer. While spring and summer is the primary planting season, don’t overlook fall. The warm soil, cooler weather and more frequent rainfall helps herb plants become established quickly.
At this time of year there is still a wide range of fresh herbs you can pick in the garden. These include bay, rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano and chervil. Buy healthy seedlings from your local nursery for fall planting rather than growing herbs from seed.
'At this time of year you should start reducing the amount of water you give container herbs as they go into hibernation which means they require little water,' says herb expert Jekka McVicar (opens in new tab). 'If you're leaving tender herbs outside in planters, it's a good idea to position them against a wall as this will not only protect them from the rain, they will also gain the residual heat from the wall.'
Herbs are great to include as part of your planter box ideas to keep everything neat and contained in one place.
10. Opt for dark drama with ornamental cabbages
The ornamental cabbage is a big hit when it comes to autumn planter ideas. Add them to the mix and they introduce instant drama, especially if you choose varieties with dark and inky foliage.
These bold beauties are easy going too, so are a great choice if you're a fan of low maintenance gardens. They like well-drained compost and are happy in sun or part shade, but the better the light the brighter the color generally is.
'To get the look, start off with an ornamental cabbage plant as the focal point of your fall planter,' says John Dempsey, gardening expert at Housetastic (opens in new tab). 'These come in many varieties to suit you color theme. Combine with a range of taller ornamental grasses in either neutral beige or deep red.'
John also suggests filling in any spaces with a range of fall flowering plants such as rudbeckia, crocosmia and helenium if you want to add a color pop.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
Take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2023 to save our feathered friends
Gardens Watching garden visitors for just one hour in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2023 could help provide vital data to protect birds from the effects of climate change
By Jayne Dowle • Published
Do you need to chit potatoes? Find out what the experts say
Grow Your Own Learn how to chit potatoes before planting them in the ground and you’ll be on your way to getting an earlier and bigger harvest
By Drew Swainston • Published