Late Summer Container Refresh

Late Summer Container Refresh

mixed container

Get re-inspired  

Your pots and containers were bursting with color and blooms this spring, but now may need a refresh. Summer can be quite damaging to plants depending on where you live, heat, drought, or persistent rainfall can take a toll on container gardens. By late August, pots either look lush or unkempt. It may be tempting to pull up all those ragged, spent annuals and replace them with new fall plantings, get inspired by longer lasting perennials, grasses, bold foliage plants. Continue daily deadheading for extending the bloom period of annuals. Also, continue feeding plants a water-soluble fertilizer for boosting blooms—especially if the soil is depleted of necessary nutrients. 

Steps for a refresh 

The plants that you choose to combine in your container have to all require the same watering amount and frequency, along with shade/full sun/partial sun. As a rule of thumb, most plants want to live in a soil that retains moisture but drains well.  

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Add an element that retains water, like peat moss or finely shredded mulch, plus an element that helps release the excess water. A few handfuls of double crushed hazelnut shells to a planting mix keeps the soil light and airy. Pumice and vermiculite accomplish both of those goals as well. Contrast presents itself in plant height, foliage shape, flower color. Each plant is easier to see and the overall effect if more pleasing when good contrast is present. 

In your container, foliage should be different sizes and colors, flowers should be colors that go well together, and heights should vary from low plants that spill over the side of the container, to mounding plants that fill space and add color, and finally, tall centerpiece plants to add height and dimension to your arrangement. 

  1. Add bold foliage plants. Swap tired warm-season flowers for richly colored foliage plants, leaving mature evergreens and long-lasting perennials in place. 
  2. Try cool-season flowers. Remove summer annuals past their prime, fill gaps with cool-season bloomers in fall colors. For a rich autumn color palette, choose pansies in vibrant hues like orange, gold, red and deep purple or bicolored combinations, avoiding pastel pinks, blues and pale yellows. Combine them with coral bells.
  3. Plant an ornamental grass for instant drama. To give some serious pizazz to existing container gardens by adding just one plant. Dramatic ornamental grass can reach 3-5 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide (although usually smaller in containers). It will continue to look striking through fall.
    mixed container
  4. Highlight texture. Consider adding one or more textural ingredients like plants with berries, twiggy branches, grassy leaves, or broad foliage. 
  5. Pop in late-blooming perennials. Al’s has many late-summer and fall-blooming perennials. Plant a few coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, or heirloom chrysanthemums to transform existing container displays. The flowers will add color through fall and come back in spring for another blooming period.
  6. Use tropicals. Deepen existing container designs with the addition of one or more tropicals. Try sunpatiens, begonias, and canna lilies, or hibiscus.
  7. Reshuffle your container layout. Rather than replant, your containers may just need is a regrouping for a fresh perspective. Assess all your potted plants and see which ones could work together. If the light requirements are compatible, move the containers together as a combination.

The ideas and combinations are all up to your imagination! We’re ready to help you discover the possibilities in store or online. 


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