11 Fall Container Gardens
Bright grasses and colorful leaves bring seasonal splash to your porch or patio
Start with the plants, then pick your containers that will extend the color theme.
Cluster containers of different shapes and sizes in threes or plant a single pot with three kinds of plants, for the best-looking displays.
This theme: Wine punch
Pops of icy blue in cooling contrast with warm combos of bright pinks and deep purples.
See how to get the look for this theme and two others.
Get the look: Its strappy leaves start out bronze green with rosy stripes, echoing the hues of its com- panions, before aging to cream.
Use a 1-gallon plant. Sunset climate zones 7–9, 14–24.
More: Phormium in the Sunset Plant Finder
Get the look: Its leaves contribute a pop of icy blue, in cooling contrast to the warm combo, while its swirled markings pick up the pink of the other plants’ leaves.
Use three plants from 4-inch pots. Zones 8, 9, 12–24.
More: Echeveria in the Sunset Plant Finder
Get the look: The maplelike foliage of this new variety lends a splash of mostly solid color that sets the tone for the whole planting. ‘Sweet Tea’ stays low too, softening the pot’s edges.
Use a 1-gallon plant. Zones 8, 9, 12–24.
More: Where to plant Heucherella
The theme: Deep bronze, burgundy, and plum shades along with leaves that turn reddish throughout the season creating an autumn experience right on your porch.
Get the look: Deep bronze leaves repeat the shades of the other two plants, but are pointed and upright, not rounded—just what’s needed to liven up this single-toned scheme.
Use a 1-gallon plant. Zones 7–9, 14–24.
Get the look: Round, deep plum leaves cover this multi-stemmed smoke tree through summer and into autumn, then turn reddish before dropping in winter.
Use a 5-gallon tree. Zones 2–24.
More: Cotinus coggygria in the Sunset Plant Finder
Get the look: Dark burgundy leaves brushed with silvery green look good all year, and its mounding form tempers the other upright shapes.
Use two 1-gallon plants. Zones 1–9, 14–24.
More: Heuchera in the Sunset Plant Finder
The theme: Orange-striped blades of grass, apricot-tinged leaves with purple undersides, and matching gold containers.
Get the look: Its apricot-tinged leaves with purple undersides are broad and ruffled, in contrast to the other plants.
The mounding perennial grows 2 feet tall and wide. Use a 1-gallon plant. Zones 1–9, 14–24.
Get the look: Stiff green blades with orange stripes form 2-foot-tall clumps, and add structure in front of trio.
Use two 1-gallon plants. Sunset climate zones 8, 9, 14–24.
More: Libertia peregrinans in the Sunset Plant Finder
Soft textures and bright chartreuse tones light up bronze-colored 17-inch-wide containers.
A. Restio multiflorus A wispy, grasslike plant that grows 3 to 4 feet tall or more, it develops brown seed heads that hang on through winter.
B. Libertia peregrinans Stiff, narrow leaves have warm tones of olive and orange; plants reach 2 feet tall.
C. Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae This spreading foot-tall plant has rounded grass green leaves.
D. Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' Feathery green-gold foliage glows in soft autumn light. Plants reach 1½ feet tall.
Billowy burgundy Agonis, trailing lime-colored Grevillea, and curly plum heuchera in egg-shaped pots create a rustic vignette against a weathered wooden garage.
A. Agonis flexuosa 'Jervis Bay Afterdark' A tree with feathery burgundy foliage.
B. Heuchera 'Crimson Curls' Deeply ruffled plum-toned leaves grow in a mound that reaches about 1½ feet tall.
C. Grevillea 'Fanfare' Saw-toothed leaves are coppery when young, maturing to a shade of lime. This low spreader grows 1 foot tall.
Bronze and chartreuse foliage mingle in a 16-inch rose-blushed celadon pot.
A. Pieris 'Forest Flame' Fiery red new leaves fade to pink, then turn dark green when mature. This shrub prefers part-shade and can reach 10 feet tall.
B. Dryopteris erythrosora The hardy wood fern’s feathery new growth blends copper, pink, and gold tones that turn rust-colored in fall. It grows 2 feet tall.
C. 'Little John' azalea Bronzy leaves make this azalea, which can reach 6 feet tall, a choice focal point.
Bright cotoneaster berries fringe a shapely Atlas cedar in pitted burnt-orange pots. (Large is 18 inches wide; small is 16 inches wide.)
A. Weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula') Pendulous branches sport soft-looking silvery blue needles. Slow-growing; trained to form a spiral trunk.
B. Cotoneaster dammeri 'Coral Beauty' Stiff branches with green leaves and red-orange berries add a playful touch to pots. It grows to
6 inches tall.
Black mondo grass edges upright coprosma in a pale gold bowl that’s 23 inches wide.
A. Coprosma 'Roy's Red' This shrub’s glossy purple-black fall leaves turn red in winter. The plant grows 3 to 4 feet tall.
B. Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' Clumps of silky ebony blades make perfect edgings.
Bring autumn’s changing leaves and bright hues to your yard with these evergreen, no-fuss specimens that pop against dark wood fences and on overcast mornings.
FROM LEFT: ‘Orange Rocket’ berberis, Bay Gem buxus, Obsession nandina, Golden Oakland holly, ‘Orange Rocket’ berberis, EverColor ‘Everillo’ carex.
Low-maintenance is by no means unattractive. Case in point are these hardy perennials and shrubs with dense foliage and lively color—ideal for containers throughout the colder months.
FROM LEFT: ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, Miss Lemon abelia, ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum, Purple Pixie Dwarf Weeping loropetalum, Purple Diamond, Semi-dwarf loropetalum, EverColor ‘Eversheen’ carex.
As the days get shorter and the sun sits lower, summer hangout spots can turn gloomy. Lighten up that entryway with this cheery combo that requires only 4 to 6 hours of sun.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Lydia tecoma, ‘Ebony’ leucodendron, Platinum Beauty lomandra, ‘Neverland’ agapanthus, Clarity Blue dianella, ‘Lemon Lime’ nandina, ‘Angyo Star’ fatshedera.