Grow a 1% Fall Container Garden on a 99% Gardener Budget

Fall Container Garden Plants, Ramon Gonzalez
©. MrBrownThumb

This week I toured Chalet Nursery and Garden Center in Wilmette, Illinois. As part of the tour we visited a couple of gardens of their North Shore clients and I got to see how the well-to-do garden. While you and I may not be able to afford to have landscape architects and a landscaping crew on retainer, there’s no reason gardeners in the 99% can’t plant spectacular fall container gardens.

Tricks of the 1% Gardener

The first thing I noticed was the repetition of four easy-to-grow plants throughout the garden center and client gardens. They are (pictured above in ascending order) pansies, cabbage, chrysanthemums, and kale.In the Chicago area cabbage and kale are staples of fall containers because they’re tough cool season crops and easily survive light frosts. Similarly, pansies--while usually planted in the spring--are also tough plants that can take some cold in the fall.

Cabbage Container Garden, Ramon Gonzalez

© MrBrownThumbAn example of the humble cabbage taking center stage in a fall-themed container garden.

The 1% Gardener Splurges on Perennials and Color

As a gardener in the 99%, using perennials in a container seems like a waste of money. Usually plants in containers are changed out throughout the season and most end up being composted come winter. But perennials can be planted in the garden up until just before the ground freezes.

Simply remove the perennials from the containers before the ground freezes and plant them in the garden to enjoy them for years to come.

Colorful Container Gardens

© MrBrownThumb

In this container combination a yellow heuchera, ornamental grass, and purple chrysanthemum are combined with an ornamental pepper. The ornamental pepper can be brought indoors and treated as a houseplants (provided you have enough light) and used again the following year.

I saw many tender and tropical plants being used as temporary plants to add splashes of vibrant color. All of them could live for many years provided you protect them from cold temperatures. Planting the perennials and bringing in the tender plants in the winter will create a zero waste container garden.

Fall Container Garden Plant List

1. Kale
2. Ornamental peppers
3. Pansies
4. Violas
5. Cabbage
6. Chrysanthemums
7. Heucheras
8. Ornamental grasses
10. Ivy
11. Rudbekia
12. Celosia
13. Sedums

Fall Container Garden in Chicago

© MrBrownThumb

You may not have big, dramatic planters like this, but with this plant list you can visit your local garden center and occupy your garden this weekend on a budget. What are your go-to plants for fall container gardens?