In this article, the autumn and winter plants that can be grown in containers will be discussed, to give colour through the dreary time of year for the gardener. Spring container can be found here, whilst summer containers can be found here.
As summer bedding begins to fade, it is now time to replace and rejuvenate tired container displays by adding autumn and winter flowering plants. To be truthful there is not a large selection of plants that can be used to brighten autumn and winter containers. Saying that the colour range can equal that of any summer planting scheme. This is especially true if you use chrysanthemums, primulas, dahlias, Chinese asters, cyclamens and nerines.
If you want to have success in late autumn or winter plants, make sure that the plants used in early autumn are fully hardy. This is to make sure that the plants selected can survive severe frosts. To get the best displays shelter the containers near house walls or in window boxes.
What follows are plants that can be grown to give beautiful autumn and winter schemes in containers:
ASTER NOVI-BELGII ‘Professor Anton Kippenberg’
This pastel-coloured perennial has daisy-like flowers, which is perfect in autumn pots filled with moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade.
It grows up to 35cm in height in ideal growing conditions. Water well in dry conditions in order to avoid powdery mildew disease, which can badly affect plants.
BELLIS PERENNIS (Bell’s Daisy)
This dwarf perennial (growing up to 20cm in height) can also be used in a spring container, as well as a container for late winter. It is often grown as an annual, producing single or double, pink, white or red flowers in late winter above green leaves.
The site chosen must be sheltered as this will offer the best chance of protection from the elements. Plant in groups in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade, with violas or evergreen shrubs.
CALLISTEPHUS CHINENSIS (China Aster)
This bushy annual bedding plant has oval, lobed, green leaves where in autumn flowers appear. The blooms come in shades of pink, purple, white, or yellow.
They will add colour to containers full of well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun, where they will grow up to 60cm in height. Deadheading is required to prolong the flowering period. Grow this annual in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
Look out for ‘Milady Series’ and ‘Ostrich Plume’.
CERATOSTIGMA PLUMBAGINOIDES (Blue Flower Loadwort)
This bushy perennial looks great in winter window boxes or pots of well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun. Blue flower loadwort has oval leaves that turn from green to red in autumn. Small blue flowers appear annually and makes a striking feature.
Chrysanthemum are one of the mainstays of autumn container growing. You need to plant this perennial in a moisture retentive, multipurpose compost in a sheltered site in full sun.
‘Grand Child’ has sprays of double rounded, pink blooms over lobed green foliage. It will grow up to 45cm in height.
‘Breither’s Supreme’ is a pure white flower chrysanthemum with dark green centres. It grows up to 60cm in height, but it does not require staking.
‘Clara Curtis’ has soft pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centres, where it will grow up to 90cm in height.
‘Court Jesters’ has single, daisy-like flowers, which comes in a range of colours, from white, yellow, orange or red. There is often an inner ring of colour at the base of the petals and the centres is brown in nature. They grow up to 60cm in height.
COLCHICUM (Autumn Crocus)
These perennial corms can be planted in small pots or window boxes in summer in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
Colchicum byzantium produces an open funnel-shape, soft lilac flowers. The flowers appear first followed by the leaves, where it will grow up to 20cm in height. Grow this perennial corm in a well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
‘Water Lily’ has fully double, pink-lilac flower, which are followed by strap-like leaves. It will grow up to 15cm in height.
COSMOS ATROSANGUIMEUS (Chocolate Cosmos)
This perennial has bowl- shaped chocolate scented, dark maroon flowers that are held on tall, slim stems. They appear in late summer to early autumn. Plant this 60cm tall plant in large containers of gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
CYCLAMEN COUM (Eastern Cyclamen)
This perennial offers late winter colour in containers, where the silver marbled leaves appear after deep pink flowers, with swept back petals first emerges. Plant in small pots or window boxes with gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost in partial shade, where it will grow up to 10cm in height.
CYCLAMEN HEDERIFOLIUM (Ivy-Leaved Cyclamen)
This adds autumn colour to small containers full of gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost. It produces pink blooms that have swept back petals and patterned silvery-green leaves that appear after the flower. It will grow up to 10cm high under these growing conditions.
DAHLIA ‘Yellow Dahlia’
This dwarf bedding dahlia blooms to the first frosts in autumn, with single, bright yellow flowers appear, above dark bronze leaves. Prefers to be grown in gritty, well-darined multipurpose compost in full sun. Lift tubers before the first frost and store them in wood shavings in a dry place for planting next year. It will grow up to 60cm in height. Other possibilities include Dahlia’ Fairy’.
GALANTHUS NIVALIS (Snowdrop)
This familiar bulb needs no introduction. In late winter small, nodding, white flowers with green markings, appear above grey-green grassy-like leaves. Best to plant these bulbs in the green (after the perennial has flowered) in well-drained, multipurpose compost in partial shade. It will grow up to 12cm in height.
HELLEBORUS ORIENTALIS (Lenten Rose)
This evergreen perennial is the first to flower each year. It grows up to 60cm in height when planted in large containers of well-drained, multipurpose compost in partial shade. In mid-winter saucer- shaped flowers that are white, cream, or dark pink appear on sturdy stems.
JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS ‘Compressa’
This slow growing evergreen conifer forms a slim cone of blue-grey foliage. It makes a good partner for small shrubs, flowering plants and bulbs in autumn or winter containers. This 80cm tall shrub should be grow in well drained, multipurpose compost compost in full sun.
NERINE BOWDENII (Bowden Cornish Lily)
This bulb produces spidery, pink flower spikes followed by strap-like leaves. This plant will brighten any autumn container, where it will grow up to 60cm in height. In order to succeed you need to plant the bulbs in spring in gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
PLATYCODON GRANDIFLORUS (Balloon Flower)
This perennial of purple-blue, white or pink flowers, open from balloon-shaped blooms (hence its common name) that appear in early autumn.. Grow this perennial in a well-drainedm multipurpose compost in a container with violas to give a bit more pizzazz to the colour scheme. This perennial will grow up to 60cm tall in full sun.
PRIMULA (Polyanthus) ‘Crescendo Series’
This is a perennial that is often grown as an annual, where from dark green corrugated leaves, colourful flow heads appear. The flower heads may be red, orange, yellow, white, or purple in colour, with yellow centres. Grow this favourite in window boxes, pots, or hanging baskets in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade, where they will grow up to 20cm in height.
SEDUM ERYTHROSTICTUM ‘Frosty Morn’
This 30cm tall perennial has variegated grey-green fleshy leaves with splashes of white. From these leaves clusters of pale pink flowers appear in early autumn. This will add colour to early autumn displays. Grow in a sunny spot in a gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost.
SEDUM (Stonecrop) ‘Ruby Glow’
This spreading succulent has dark red stems of oval, purplish-green fleshy leaves. Atop of this star-shaped, ruby red flowers appear in autumn. Makes an interesting edging plant in pots or window boxes, full of gritty, well-drained, multipurpose compost. Grows up to 20cm in height in a sunny location.
SENECIO CINERARIA (Cineraria)
This perennial, often grown as an annual, is not fully hardy. Plant in pots of well-drained, multipurpose compost mixed with grit in full sun, to give a decorative feature in autumn. It has deeply cut, silvery leaves that provides an interesting focal point for this 30cm tall plant.
Another possibility is Senecio pulcher ‘Tymeman Groundsel’, which produces pink daisy-like flowers with golden centres on upright stems above rosettes of green foliage. Grow it in full sun in a well-drained, multipurpose compost where it will grow to 60cm in height.
VIOLA x WITTROCKIANA (Pansy)
This familiar decorative bedding plant forms the mainstay of any cold season container. Remember that winter glowering pansies do not bloom well in very cold weather, where small head violas will do better. This 23cm tall perennial, often treated as an annual, provides multiple colours throughout the autumn and winter months.
Plant in pots, hanging baskets in multipurpose compost in full sun and partial shade. Does best in a sheltered, sunny or partial shade position in a well-drained, multipurpose compost.
For violas try ‘Antique Shades’ or for a trailing variety try ‘Ochre Trailing’.
In this article, the autumn and winter plants for interest in containers have been discussed. The range of plants on offer are limited due to the fact that many annuals or perennial are not full hardy or go dormant during these seasons. This does not mean that you cannot have colour in your autumn or winter container garden.
The suggestions here should give you plenty of ideas of what plant to use, but there are an enough to make a beautiful display of different colours and plant forms.
If you have any questions you wish to make, or comments you are dying to ask, please do so in the comment box below.
Keep container gardening.