You can have a colorful garden throughout the year, even if you do not have your own backyard. In September and October simply plant your summer containers full of cool-season plants. Here are some tips for creating a late-season container garden.
- Try to plant in early fall while the soil is still warm to establish a good root system.
- Place containers in a bright, protected location away from strong winds. Flower containers in particular need to be placed in sunny locations while plants with colorful foliage and berries can tolerate shadier sites.
- Use containers that are 14 inches in diameter or larger and are made out of non-porous material so they do not crack during a cold spell. Larger containers have greater volume and therefore better insulation against cold weather. Poly resin pots (polyethylene containers) are designed to look like terra cotta and are well-suited for winter plantings. Make sure that the pot has good drainage holes. Take a look at our selection of cold weather-hardy pots at NYBGshop.org for some perfect container options.
- Use a potting soil that has good drainage. Adding compost to the mix helps to creates additional heat and adds nutrients.
- Use a slow release fertilizer that will last until spring.
- Select plants with a hardiness rating colder than your temperature zone.
- Try underplanting with spring-flowering bulbs. Plant bulbs in containers at regular depth (3x size of the bulb), but space them closer together than you would in the open ground.
- Create long-season interest by selecting a mixture of low-growing conifers, broadleaf evergreens, grasses, and interesting foliage plants.
If you’re like me and just love the colors of Fall, you may want to learn how you can continue to enjoy color in your garden well through October. Fallscaping, by Nancy J. Ondra and Stephanie Cohen offers practical design ideas, plant advice and ten complete garden plans that will have you puttering in the dirt later than you ever thought possible.
Winter care for your containers:
- Water when soil is dry and especially at the onset of severe cold weather. Moist soil freezes more slowly and creates heat, which protects the roots of your plants. Water in the morning to allow the plants time to absorb the water during the warmth of the day. Do not water if the temperature is below freezing.
- Group containers together—this will create added protection from the elements.
- If temperatures are going to remain extremely low for a long time, either wrap your container with bubble wrap or fill a garbage bag with newspaper (twist newspaper as you would when building a campfire or insulating a package) and wrap around containers.
- Winter protection should only be done after the plants have acclimated to the cold but before danger of subfreezing temperatures. Late November is usually a good time for this in our area.
Plant suggestions for autumn and winter containers are listed below. For more gardening tips visit us online at http://www.nybg.org. For great garden and garden-inspired product visit us at www.nybgshop.org.
Plants for Autumn/Winter containers:Perennials
Helleborus orientalis —lenten-rose or hellebore
Heuchera sanguinea —coral bells (semi-evergreen)
Epimedium —barrenwort (semi-evergreen)
Geranium macrorrhizum —hardy geranium Geranium sanguineum—hardy geranium
Hedera helix — English ivy (evergreen)
Liriope —lily turf
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’— sedge (semi-evergreen)
Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’—sweet flag (semi-evergreen)
Ajuga reptans —bugleweed
Asarum europaeum — European wild-ginger
Helictotrichon sempervirens—blue oat grass
Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’ — mondo-grass
Yucca filamentosa ‘Variegata’ — yucca
Tulipa —try small species tulips
Colorful Flowers and Foliage
Winter-flowering pansies and violas
Ornamental cabbage and kale
Calluna vulgaris —heather
Erica carnea —heath
Conifers and broadleaf evergreen shrubs
Skimmia japonica —Japanese skimmia
Gaultheria procumbens — wintergreen
Ilex aquifolium — English holly
Euonymus fortunei — wintercreeper
Buxus — boxwood
Osmanthus - Osmanthus