Fail-Proof Flowers for Container Gardens

Are  your container gardens may be looking past their prime? Is the sweet potato vine choking the life out of your containers?  If this is the case, don’t fret. With the addition of a few late-blooming flowering plants, your containers can look fresh and seasonally appropriate. Whether you choose annuals or perennials, fall is a great time for bolder colors and textures.
One caveat when purchasing a perennial for
containers: Potted plants don’t have the insulation that in-ground plants have, and their roots may freeze, so it is best to plants that are viable two USDA zones below your zone if you want the plant to return next year.
It’s up to you (and your budget) to decide if you pop in a few new plants or start over from scratch. The following are several autumn beauties that can last you till the first frost and even beyond. Pair them with other fall foliage plants for brilliant displays.

Pansies (the orange blooms around the rim of this front pot) are the typical go-to plant for fall, and with good reason. The pansies labeled “hardy” can withstand a frost or two and, if you're lucky, may even come back the following spring. Plus, pansies come in more colors than you can shake a dead petunia at. Pansies are low growing, with a mounded shape, and work well as a filler in the front of your container. Their broad blooms shine when combined with ornamental grasses or finely textured asparagus fern.



Aster x frikartii is another fall staple and can be found at most garden centers in late summer. Asters also stay in a somewhat mounded form, and their purplish-blue colors pair nicely with ornamental cabbage and contrast beautifully with orange- and rust-colored blooms.

Coneflowers make great statement plants in containers. The ones featuring sunset-like colors are terrific in autumn. A few standouts include the varieties 'Art’s Pride' (shown here) and 'Firebird'. As these can grow rather tall, you’ll want to place them in the center or back of your container. They pair well with a chartreuse Alternanthera or Carex.

Rudbeckia is another wonderful fall container choice. With its yellow-orange petals and dark brown center, it is the epitome of autumn. The aptly named 'Autumn Colors' variety, featured here in the center, is a short-lived perennial that is often treated as an annual. It looks nice here mixed with orange nasturtium.


Stonecrop is a late-blooming perennial that can last well past a few frosts. Its foliage ranges from icy blue-green to dark burgundy. And its thick, fleshy leaves and flowers look great next to airy plants and grasses with a finer texture. 'Thunderhead' is the variety shown here and is stunning next to dainty pink blooms.

Million bells is a showy plant that flowers almost nonstop through fall. Its wide range of color options makes it an easy choice for mixed containers. The coral-color variety in this photo would also look nice spilling out of a container filled with purple asters and dark heuchera.

Verbena bonariensis is a unique yet stunning plant with tall, slender stems topped with clusters of rosy lavender blossoms that attract butterflies — and, it's deer resistant to boot! This plant is considered an annual outside of zones 7 to 10, but it may self-seed. It has been known to become invasive in the Deep South, so you will want to avoid using it in those areas.

While ornamental peppers do flower, their glossy purple leaves and fruit are what make this plant a late-season knockout. While the peppers are technically edible, they're extremely hot and not recommended for consumption. 'Purple Flash', seen here in the center, grows into a bushy mound approximately 18 to 24 inches tall. Pair it with Verbena bonariensis and bright lime-green creeping Jenny for a dynamic presentation.

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