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Spice Up Autumn Containers With Spiky Silhouettes—Planting Plans

The contrasts in shape, texture, and color in these containers call for a celebration

autumn containers with spiky plants
Design: Helen Weis. Photo: Lynn Felici-Gallant.

Include spiky silhouettes in containers to lend a celebratory feel to your front stoop. Plants such as cordyline, featured in two of the containers below, can easily be paired with plants that offer pops of red, such as red fuchsias and burgundy heucheras, for a brilliant fall container that speaks to the deepening of the season’s colors. Or pair your cordyline with blazing orange coneflowers for a pairing that will get you excited for nights by the fire. To easily add a more upright habit to any container, use dried branches from your favorite tree, which creates an organic, natural feeling to the display.

A little contrast goes a long way (seen above)

A little contrast goes a long way container illustrated

The rich brown door, stone entry, and branches in the planter set the tone for this earthy arrangement. Even the colors in the croton pick up on the natural theme. But the ‘Neon’ pothos is what lights up this corner and container, demonstrating that a single contrasting plant can change the mood of an entire area.

1. Dried branches

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

3. ‘Neon’ pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’, Zone 13)


 More can be merry

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

A color theme of brown and red connects this trio of planters. A steady supply of green—red’s complementary color—brings the composition into balance.

 More can be merry containers illustrated

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

2. ‘Karasuba’ crimson fans (Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasuba’, Zones 4–8)

3. ‘Marmalade’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Marmalade’, Zones 4–9)

4. Bandana™ Orange Sunrise lantana (Lantana camara ‘Orange Sunrise’, Zone 11)

5. ‘Homestead Purple’ vervain (Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’, Zones 4–7)

6. ‘Red Star’ cordyline (Cordyline ‘Red Star’, Zones 9–11)

7. Cascades mahonia (Mahonia nervosa, Zones 5–7)

8. ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ fuchsia (Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’, Zones 9–10)

9. Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, Zones 8–11)

10. Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Zones 5–9)

11. Pansy (Viola × wittrockiana cv., annual)

12. ‘Ogon’ sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, Zones 6–9)

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

14. ‘Plum Pudding’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’, Zones 3–8)


Flaunt flashy colors

container with red and orange flowers and colorful foliage
Design: Stacie Crooks. Photo: David Perry.

Neon reds and oranges command attention in this fiery container, but they are balanced perfectly with dark leaves and just the right touch of light mounding foliage. Together the plants form an arrangement that is bright but not blinding.

Flaunt flashy colors container illustrated and labeled

1. ‘Flame Thrower’ coneflower (Echinacea ‘Flame Thrower’, Zones 4–9)

2. Sombrero® Hot Coral coneflower (Echinacea ‘Balsomcor’, Zones 6–9)

3. ‘Ascot Rainbow’ euphorbia (Euphorbia × martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Zones 5–9)

4. Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides cv., Zones 6–9)

5. Hypearls™ Olivia St. John’s wort (Hypericum ‘Hypearls Olivia’, Zones 6–9)

6. Festival Grass™ cordyline (Cordyline ‘JURred’, Zones 8–11)

7. Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa cvs., annual)

8. ‘Fire Chief’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’, Zones 4–9)

Illustrations: Elara Tanguy

Return to autumn container collection

Previous: Autumn Pots Minus the Mums Next: Go for Grasses to Soften Late-Season Containers—Planting Plans
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