Autumn Container Displays – 2016


All the basics from designing a summer container still apply when designing the fall pot:

The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller!

The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest.
Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature.
Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.
The only small difference you need to remember is that Fall plants do not grow like the Summer plants do. Basically, WYSIWYG (what you see, is what you get), you do not need to think about a plant growing into it’s place. Fill the pot to it’s greatest extent because this container will only be around for two months at best.

Most Fall plants are also not that tall. We use grasses, sticks and other material to get the height the design requires.

Here’s a list of our commonly ordered Fall plant material:

Miscanthus grasses – These add great height & texture
Pennisetum millet – Height & texture, fuzzy seedheads.
Heuchera – Coral bells – Great colored leaves available
Acorus & Carex – A nice bright yellow or white for a great spiller
Sedums – Great for spillers
Ajuga – Nice texture
Rudbeckia – Great reds, yellows and oranges available, also great for height
Kale – It comes in many varieties from cabbage/round style to tall parsley-looking
Osaka Cabbage – A staple in most of our designs. Fills those ‘holes’ really well
Swiss Chard – A wonderful filler that is very colorful also
Mums – Aren’t they the official fall flower?!? Great filler
Calibracoa – They look like small petunias, but can handle the cooler temps. Great spiller
Ivy – Sometimes we reuse the ivy from the summer containers as it still looks great and it’s much bigger than the newly ordered pots
Ornamental Jerusalem Cherry – Looks like a tomato plant, but use with caution, they don’t take the cool weather well & the ‘cherries’ fall off
Ornamental peppers – Great way to splash in some color to the filler section
Crotons – One of my favs! Great for a colorful thriller
Pansy – These cool season flowers look great and add great color to the pot
Bittersweet or honeysuckle – This one is not alive, but it is a great finishing touch to the design. Unfortunately, it is a very invasive species, but is grown for the floral industry. I wish someone would get a business together where they would ‘wild collect’ this and do a ‘two-fer’ for society, invasive removal & design enjoyment.


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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

16 thoughts on “Autumn Container Displays – 2016

  1. I’m a fan of this cabbages, but sadly they are no longer in the stores here… maybe the trend changed and I missed it? This year they have winterresistant begonias everywhere in such rusty colors… not my cup of tea, they look weird :o(

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK Girl, They look fantastic but because it is not something we do down under (at least I’ve never seen such a display) I need to ask a few questions. Is this an American wide thing or just Illinois? Are the plants all set in potting mixture and how long do they last ‘cos they don’t look like cut flowers and what is the deep and meaningful tradition that is behind it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this is US wide. Even Florida (whose temps are still in the 80’sF ) will do it. They may pick some species that do better in the warmer temps, ie the cabbage / kale likes it cool, however the color scheme will be the same, reds, rusts, orange… fall colors. We celebrate Halloween 10/31 pretty heavily here. (Pumpkin carving too) We also do all of our harvesting now. Our country generally turns these colors naturally and this way, folks can put those colors near their doors. I would say that is the tradition, so to speak. These are full plants with root structures. Granted, the pots only last 2 months at most. Then the temps here get to freezing, which kills most of the plants. We then go to winter pots, which are just cuttings of evergreens and other plants that don’t loose their leaves on the branches.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Gee these are all so pretty. I like the one with the tall fountain grass? the best. There is one more that is outstanding and it’s on the square corner stone of a concrete wall where the the fence meets at an angle. Of course all the planters are lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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