The temperatures are dropping, but that doesn’t mean your beautiful blooms have to end! Why not consider container gardening throughout the Fall and Winter season? Creating container gardens is a fun, simple way to bring your plants’ beauty indoors and protect them from the elements.
If you already have several container arrangements started, consider combining them into one, three or five pots (depending on how many you have to start with). You might also like to add some new plants such as pansies, fall kale or even small evergreens. The tired plants can be removed, and containers you don’t use can be put away for the winter. Place your “new” containers in strategic locations where you can best enjoy them, like by your patio door, outside a kitchen window or grouped by your outside seating area.
There are many summer and early fall annuals that can handle the cool temperatures, including verbena, nemesia, bidens, million bells (Calibrachoa), lantana, zonal geraniums (Pelargonium x hortum), red grass (Pennisetum rubrum), diascia and gerbera daisies. Even if you haven’t planted any of these particular plants this year, you may want to consider including them in your containers next spring. Like your perennial borders, where you plan to have something(s) blooming throughout the summer and fall, the same idea can be used with your containers by including annuals you know will look great throughout fall.
You can also bring favorite annuals inside for the winter. To care for the annuals, put them in the brightest light possible (a south-facing window is best), pinch the plants often to keep bushy, water the plants regularly and do not fertilize until the days become longer in late February. You may also want to spray the plants with insecticidal soap before bringing them indoors to make sure you are not bringing in any pests.
Unfortunately, not all annuals will do well inside, but the following plants can be adapted to indoor conditions and bring you some welcome color throughout the winter: zonal geraniums (Pelargonium x hortum), celosia, verbena, argyranthemum, gazania, portulaca, mealy-cup sage (Salvia farinacea), diascia, dragonwing begonias, impatiens and felicia blue daisy. When the cold weather has arrived for good, consider planting a winter container garden with dwarf evergreens, such as dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’), fern spray hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Fern Spray’) or dwarf English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’). These types of plants can keep the “green” in your containers all year long.
Be sure to keep in mind of what your containers are made. Terra cotta containers generally do not do well outside all year round. They can crack and chip with the freezing and thawing of the soil. Fiberglass, iron and plastic containers are ideal for leaving outside in the winter months. If you are a container garden lover or just want a good option for bringing your beloved plants indoors in the cool temperatures, there’s still plenty of time to design and create beautiful containers that will bring color and joy all season long.