Autumn Containers

for that awkward fall to frost display

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It's the end of August.  The annuals look terrible, and they're done ; even deadheading can't save them now.  What can you do to replace them for something to fill that gap between the end of summer and when the snow flies?

Autumn into frost - choose some tough and reliable plants for your display

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I may start off with some ideas of what to look for in the garden centers, but sometimes, the pickings are slim. 

It's too early for mums, those gorgeous round globes of mauve, white or yellow blooms. 

What there is available are still only in bud, and although I may get a couple for later on into October, that's not going to fill the need right now.

There are still some options, so don't despair.

Finding the plants for Autumn Containers...

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage are fabulous, but there's nothing like that around here.  In larger centers, you could find them, but out in the sticks I'm out of luck.

Soft bronzy greens, bright reds and oranges...

So how about some ornamental grasses, mixed with some super overgrown annuals like capsicum?  That would work, and fill in the spaces with some Sedum and Jovibarba heuffelii that I grew from seed.  That works for me. 

The grass is Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' (unfortunately not hardy in my area - only to Zone 6 USDA) and the very appealing peppers are Capsucin 'Medusa' and another ornamental or Christmas pepper.  These are not edible, just grown for their brightly colored fruits, and also not hardy.

The Sedum is a variety that isn't easy to find, but there is absolutely nothing I don't like about it.  Early spring growth is blushed with pink or bronze, and then in late summer the pale pink blooms will cover this well behaved little plant.  This is Sedum cyaneum 'Willy Bellot'. 

Twisty slender tiny peppers...

Using some battered enamel ware buckets gives the container that added panache.  You could also use baskets, harvest bins, wooden crates or any other type of autumn themed planter.

What do you do with those root bound annuals?

Root bound Carex...

But what do you do with those root bound plants?  Grasses are especially prone to this, where the roots just don't know when to stop.

It looks like it's cruel, but cutting into the strangling roots will help the plant...

So, cut up into the root ball, and give those poor strangled roots somewhere to go.  I make several cuts up almost to the crown of the plant, then spread them apart, and pack some fresh soil in between. 

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