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Create Fall Containers With Evergreen Backbones—Planting Plans

When other plants in your pots go dormant, evergreens can help to see you through the off-season

evergreen containers for fall
Design: Helen Weis. Photo: Lynn Felici-Gallant.

Evergreens are a natural choice for fall and winter containers. When other plants in your pots go dormant, evergreens are a staple that help to see you through the off-season. However, there’s no reason not to give your potted conifers and broadleaf evergreens some fun friends to celebrate fall with. For instance, the boxwoods below play well with chrysanthemums and ‘Rocket Red’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Red’, annual). The pink ‘Alert’ New York aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Alert’, Zones 4–8) paired with Lawson’s false cypress creates a unique combination that is no less beautiful in fall, especially if you’re resisting moving into oranges and browns. Lastly, a dwarf Hinoki cypress, ‘Nana Gracilis’works wonderfully as a backbone to Cabaret™ Bright Red calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Bright Red’, annual), with black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–11) helping to round out a wonderful complementary combination. So don’t settle for just a lone evergreen in a pot this season.

Formal can be playful too

This entryway demands a formal planting, but one that doesn’t have to take itself too seriously. Boxy containers echo the architecture of the home, while the topiary shapes add whimsy and soften the space. Mums, snapdragons, and violas ground the trio.

Formal can be playful too containers illustrated and labeled

1. ‘Green Velvet’ boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Velvet’, Zones 4–9)

2. ‘Petra’ croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Petra’, Zone 11)

3. ‘Rocket Red’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Red’, annual)

4. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum cv., annual)

5. ‘Glacier’ English ivy (Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, Zones 5–11)

6. ‘Merlin Blue Morn’ petunia (Petunia ‘Merlin Blue Morn’, annual)

7. Penny™ Violet viola (Viola cornuta ‘Penny Violet’, Zones 6–8)

8. ‘White Perfection’ viola (Viola cornuta ‘White Perfection’, Zones 6–8)


Cool colors meet form

container with small evergreen and pink flowers
Design: Stacie Crooks. Photo: Danielle Sherry.

Verticality defines the success of this combination. From the upright grasses to the elongated false cypress and iris, all plants point up. A pop of mounding purple aster and draping sedum provide the necessary color and contrast.

Cool colors meet form container illustrated and labeled

1. Variegated Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Variegata’, Zones 3–9)

2. Cliff sedum (Sedum cauticola, Zones 5–9)

3. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–11)

4. ‘Alert’ New York aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Alert’, Zones 4–8)

5. ‘Winter Glow’ bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia ‘Winter Glow’, Zones 3–8)

6. ‘Ice Dance’ sedge (Carex ‘Ice Dance’, Zones 6–9)

7. Blue sedge (Carex flacca, Zones 4–9)

8. ‘Silver Sword’ azalea (Rhododendron ‘Silver Sword’, Zones 5–9)

9. ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ Lawson’s false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’, Zones 5–9)


Evergreens are ever lovely

three containers with colorful foliage plants
Design: Stacie Crooks. Photo: David Perry.

A dwarf Hinoki cypress provides a stately focal point for an arrangement inspired by nature. The plants below it mimic the shapes you might find on a walk in the woods, while a punch of red picks up on the variegation in the leucothoe to add an element of surprise.

Evergreens are ever lovely containers illustrated and labled

1. ‘Velvet Night’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’, Zones 5–9)

2. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–11)

3. ‘Nana Gracilis’ dwarf Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’, Zones 4–8)

4. Dwarf drooping leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Nana’, Zones 5–8)

5. Cabaret™ Bright Red calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Bright Red’, annual)

6. ‘Rekohu Sunrise’ sedge (Carex trifida ‘Rekohu Sunrise’, Zones 7–11)

7. Mossy sedum (Sedum lydium, Zones 5–8)

Illustrations: Elara Tanguy

Return to autumn container collection

Previous: Tough Tropicals Make Great Thrillers in Fall Containers—Planting Plans Next: Four Container Planting Ideas for Autumn
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