The 10 Best Plants for Fall Container Gardens

woman holding pot of pansies
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With the end of summer on the horizon, spring planting tends to get the all the attention. While it's always fun to start planning your springtime garden and preparing your seed order, we urge you to hold off on packing away your planters for just a little bit longer. Instead of jumping straight to spring, think about giving your garden a fall refresh instead. Sure, winter is coming, but still to be enjoyed is the coziest season of the year. Pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, and, as far as your containers go, all the bold, jewel-toned late-season bloomers, eye-catching foliage, and long-lasting seed heads from grasses that reach their peak during this time.

A successful fall container comprised of a combination of autumn stars can give your doorstep, porch, or window box a few months of new life and a graceful transition into the year's colder months. Pro tip: Before you choose your plants, it's important to make sure you know your climate. Where frost cold creeps in early, opt for plants that can handle the cold, such as conifers, pansies, and ornamental cabbage and kale. Where winters are mild, don't be scared of reaching for late-blooming perennials and even succulents.

While you're at it, fall is actually the best time for planting nearly everything else in your garden, too, so if you've been thinking about adding a few new trees or shrubs to your landscaping, now is the time to get your hands dirty. It might come as a surprise, but the cooler temperatures, generally reliable weather forecasts, and short but bright days make for an excellent time to transition plants to your garden. You can plant up until six weeks before the first frost, but be sure to add a layer of mulch as a security blanket and give supplemental water if Mother Nature comes up short. When spring comes around, your garden will be off to the races in no time.

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orange and pink chrysanthemum flowers

The crown jewel of the fall containers, these late bloomers are super compact, covered in long-lasting flowers, and come in every autumnal tone you can imagine. Mums like full sun and regular water.

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helenium red and orange flowers
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Grab the eye of any passerby with this sun-loving perennial that blooms in only the brightest shades of red, yellow, and orange. Helenium need full sun and regular water.

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fuchsia and deep purple pansies
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Think of something cheerier than a pansy—we'll give you all the time you need. Their miniature habit means you can tuck them anywhere, adding pops of color (and joy) to even the smallest of spaces. Pansies do great in part shade and regular water.

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purple salvia flowers
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They've been performing all summer in your garden, and guess what? There's no stopping your salvia now, either. They're a perfect season-bridging plant, and their blooms will carry you straight into fall. Salvias thrive in sun. Many can handle a touch of drought once established.

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purple aster flowers
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For a commendable grand finale, be sure to tuck asters into your containers. The blue, pink, purple, and white flowers are one of the last nectar sources for pollinators, meaning you get a package deal: wildlife and blooms. Asters are happiest in full sun, though some can handle a touch less. Regular water is their favorite.

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heuchera red leaves
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Because it can't all be flowers, heuchera is a good option if you'd like to add colorful foliage to your fall container display. Big leaves in jewel-tones are the perfect accompaniment to any late-season bloomers. Heuchera burn in too much sun, so keep them in part shade and give them regular water.

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stonecrop pink flowers
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Fleshy leaves and persistent clusters of flowers comes in a variety of sizes and colors, but their real selling point is their drought-tolerant nature, making them ideal candidates if you're prone to neglect. Stonecrop appreciates full sun but can handle drought like a champ.

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Lamb's Ears

green lamb's ear leaves
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While most of this list has you covered on flowers, lamb's ears brings the texture. Velvety, soft-to-the-touch silver leaves are a perfect foil for those late-season blooms. Lamb's ears does great in full sun or part shade. It appreciates regular water but can handle less.

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Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
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It doesn't get better than the dramatic form and icy-blue needles of this plant. As an added bonus, conifers continue to hold their form in the garden no matter the amount of snow. Blue atlas cedar will do best in full sun and with regular water.

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Ornamental Cabbage

ornamental purple and pink cabbage
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The ornamental version of your favorite vegetable adds green, purple, or white in a rosette form that can withstand frost without batting an eye. Ornamental cabbages can handle full sun and appreciate regular water.

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The 10 Best Plants for Fall Container Gardens

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