Making the Transistion to Fall Pots

If your summer pots are anything like mine, they start to look a little rough in the heat of August. However, after fertilizing them, cutting them back, and the cooler evening temperatures, my summer pots seem to have a second wind come early September. 

Seeing the beautiful mums and colorful kale popping up around town brings me a difficult decision: do I toss the summer plantings that are starting to look good again?

Some years, my containers wear out their welcome and I am happy to pull everything out and toss it, starting fresh in the new season. However, many times, my summer annuals just don't seem ready to go quite yet.  

If you don't want to scrap your pots altogether, here are a few ways to combine the two seasons into your planters for fantastic results. 

Here is a great example of turning summer pots into fall pots. Karen removed her cleome and replaced it with a mum. Swapped her verbena and million bells for two cabbages, and cut back her salvia to fit with the other plants better.


BEFORE (Summer Planting)

AFTER (Fall Planting)

The first thing to keep in mind when making a switch is the types of plants you have in your planter. Some summer annuals do not do well with the cooler night temperatures; so as big and beautiful as they are, they won't last too long into the next season when temperatures dip into the 40s overnight without you having to move the pots in and out or covering them well each night.

Plants like sweet potato vines and coleus can be sensitive to the cool temperatures and won't last too long into your season. Choosing to pull those sensitive plants with hardier cool-weather annuals is where you'll want to start. 

You can also look at the plants you have in your planters to determine if cutting them back, like Karen did with the salvia above, will be able to re-bloom before frost starts coming around. If you have a few flowers to remove while there are other buds just opening, you are in good shape to keep that plant. However, if you need to completely cut back your blooms as they are done, and none remain (like with the nicotiana pictured to the left), you may be better off pulling that plant to replace with a fall annual or grass.

Another thing to keep in mind with the plants you have in your planters is the color scheme. With fall, we see lots of reds, oranges, yellows and gem tones. Many summer plantings tend to have more neon colors, like bright pink, purple and lime green. While some of the yellow flowers could stick around for fall, pulling the neon pink plants to replace with fall colors will help keep a consistent look with all of your fall decor.

You've worked hard all summer to keep your container plantings looking beautiful, and while the season is changing, you can still keep some of your plants while incorporating cool-weather annuals to welcome the new fall season.