Improving Flowering Containers at Summer’s End

Improving Flowering Containers at Summer’s End

You’ve watered your pots and boxes all summer, and may or may not have remembered to fertilize. Some are still looking full and fantastic, while others have plants that have stopped flowering or have dried up once too often. Even the most carefully planted and tended containers usually need some refreshing, replanting and renewal at the end of August.

Here are the steps to take so that your pots and boxes will look great into the fall:

  • Cut out dead plants completely. If an annual has turned brown, or has just been overwhelmed by the other plants in the container, cut these out at dirt level.
  • If a plant is still healthy but has stopped flowering, trim it back by between a third to a half with scissors. Water the container well and then fertilize, either with a time-release product such as Osmocote, or with a mix-into-water product such as MaxSea.
  • If there are spaces in your containers, dig out the roots and dirt in those spots and tuck one of the fall annuals in.
  • Ornamental pumpkins and gourds can be used to fill in empty areas. They can be placed on top of existing plants or used with new small kales, cabbages or other fall annuals.
  • Use pinecones, seed pods or other natural materials from your garden to top bare soil around containers that hold shrubs or annuals that still look good.
The Peacock Kales come in white or purple, and their colors grow more intense as the weather gets cool.
These magnolia seed pods were used to top-dress this potted plant. Pinecones, pine needles or short bits of twigs could also be effective.
Strawflowers are popular in fall containers, and make a nice alternative to mums.
Small ornamental cabbages and kales look great when tipped over the edges of pots.
A pumpkin stack has been ringed by kale and ivy in these front-porch pots.
These warty pumpkins (aka peanut pumpkins) mirror the texture of the curly kales and cabbages.
Herbs are an alternative for fall boxes and containers. Use sage, lavender, thyme, and chives together with kales for a pretty and edible box or porch pot.
And of course, the mums are always a favorite in the fall. Plant them in the ground after they are done flowering in containers. (Hint for keeping them alive through winter: don’t cut them back, and water them once a week through November if it hasn’t rained.)
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