Even though we are easing into cooler weather, your patio planters of annual flowers do not have to lose their color. Now is the time to choose some plants that will continue to decorate your space for the fall season! You don't necessarily have to start from scratch, but rather remove any tired annuals that have passed their prime and replace the voids with some better looking options. Chrysanthemums, ornamental grasses, flowering kale, pansies and other cool-loving plants are great when planted alone or in combinations.
Ornamental peppers offer some nice late-season bursts of color with their foliage and/or fruits. There are many good dark-leaved varieties like 'Black Pearl,' while the All-America Selections winner for 2014, 'NuMex Easter' puts on a great show with its unique orange and purple combination.
We love the ornamental sweet potato 'Bewitched' - it's hard to get a more perfect plant for Halloween! Combine this spooky-looking foliage with a pumpkin or orange chrysanthemum and you have a fantastic decoration for your front entry. Other non-plant items can also go in your pots: ornamental gourds, decorative corn, and arts and craft items celebrating autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Involve your kids and grandkids - get creative and experiment with some fun fall displays!
Ornamental millet can also be used in fall containers. Their foliage provides good color, plus the bold seed heads offer some unique texture. Leave the plants out over winter to provide a natural bird feeder. Small birds enjoy the millet seed.
Lastly, remember that the color of the container can be as important as what goes in the pot! The plants in the picture below are all various shades of green, but when they are combined with bright colorful pottery it makes a very eye-catching display. The same can be done with autumnal hues.
An example of a city that successfully transitioned containers from summer to fall plantings is Greensburg, KS. This picture was taken before the infamous tornado hit and wiped out much of the town, but the community businesses always put out pots of summer annuals. When fall arrived they added some pumpkins and mums, but left the geraniums and sweet potatoes in tact. Easy and effective at adding color and beauty!
We run the annual and perennial flower trials for Kansas State University