Fall isn’t necessarily end of planting season

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:18 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not quite ready for the growing season to end? Even though fall is here, you can still enjoy your container garden. Your containers’ spring and summer flowers have served you well, brightening up your balcony or patio with bright colors and fragrances. Fall is a good time to keep color in those containers that will last for quite a while.

Nothing will make your patio or porch look more dismal than containers filled with spent plants. Now is the time to remove those spring and summer annuals and put them in your compost pile for use as mulch in the spring. However, be sure they are not diseased or infested with insects. If they are, dispose of them by burning them or by placing them in the trash.

For fall planting, you can recycle the containers you used during the spring and summer. Using some of the containers that held your spring and summer plants will serve several purposes. You already have your favorite containers and have placed them in the areas where they work best. It will be cost effective not to have to purchase new pots. And the same soil can still be used for your fall plantings with minimal amendments.

When deciding what types of plants to choose for your fall containers, consider mixing some of those annuals — if they are still in good shape — with fall color. Mums and kale add interesting color and texture to summer pots. Fall blooming perennials such as sedum, asters, hardy mums and ornamental grasses can be temporarily potted, and then planted in the garden before winter sets in. Other plants to consider would be:

• Compact plants

• Trailing or cascading plants

• Free-flowering plants

• Plants that have a variety of foliage textures and colors

• Plants that produce bright-colored berries in the fall

• Snapdragons, pansies, viola flowers and dianthus

• Cool-weather vegetables such as radishes, lettuce and chives

Whatever you decide to put in your fall garden, be sure to buy your plants from a reliable garden center or nursery. Other tips:

• Select only high quality plants that are disease and pest-free

• Choose plants that are suited for the soil in your container

• Select plants that are the appropriate size to fit in your container

• Group the plants using no more than four or five varieties

• Buy plants that complement one another

If you have a creative bent and would like an interesting display, here is an idea: Buy an old wheelbarrow and make sure it has drainage holes. Consider planting three upright florist’s mums, six azalea mums, eight paludosum daisies and nine calendulas.

Plant the tall chrysanthemums in the center of the wheelbarrow and then add the azalea mums, evenly spaced around the central plants. Continuing outward, plant a ring of calendulas and then add two daises in each corner. Allow several inches between plants. Keep the soil level 1 to 2 inches below the rim and be sure the container gets plenty of sun. Also be sure to pinch the large-flowered chrysanthemums to keep them bushy. Cut back both types of mums after flowering, or treat them as annuals and remove entire plants after they stop blooming.

There are many other ways to enjoy your container garden. Let your creative mind wander when choosing plants and containers for your display. Be sure to take time to enjoy your new creation before the cold winter sets in.

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