I’ll admit to having a bit of container envy. Just a twinge of jealousy as I walk by a lavish and lush arrangement of seasonal plants perfect for thrilling guests at the front door. Unfortunately, my DIY skills are lacking in this department. I walk through the garden center and see so many choices, but I wonder: What’s the secret to a gorgeous container?

So I’ve asked Zohreh, Al’s Custom Container Designer, to instruct us in the finer points of designing a fabulous fall container. We’ll take the mystery out of building our own show-stopping containers!

To begin, Zohreh has chosen a beautiful display of fall colors and coordinating container.

Zohreh chose two tall “thrillers”, the Phormium ‘Mat’s Merlot’ and the Ornamental Millet ‘Jester’ which has a beautiful chartreuse color when it’s young, and then as it matures it becomes a perfectly autumn-y burgundy.

Then, she chose two of the cascading Vinca minor ‘Bowles”. The Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is an evergreen and will do well late into the season, and fills in the container nicely.

The Osteo ‘Zion Purple Sun’ has an amazing multicolor bloom in orange transitioning to purple.

Nothing says fall like the Heuchera ‘Forever Red’ adding a fullness to the arrangement and the deep burgundy color.

After using Al’s soil to fill her container about halfway, she added Al’s Transplant Fertilizer before the planting to help the plants take root.

Zohreh recommends cleaning your plants up before placing them in the pot, while they’re still easy to access.

Stimulate the roots by loosening them so they get the message that they can start expanding.

Following our tried and true Container Basics Growing Guide, we place “Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers” in the pot depending on where you plan to put your finished container.

  • Thrillers: Bold and beautiful with an upright habit. Plant your thriller in the center or back of your container.
  • Fillers: Complement your thriller with plants with a clumping habit. Add interesting foliage that is unique.
  • Spillers: The trailing habit of these plants cascade over the side of your container, adding another layer of texture and balance to your thriller.
Placing the Thrillers, the Phormium ‘Mat’s Merlot’ and Ornamental Millet ‘Jester’ (left) & placing the fillers - the Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Osteo ‘Zion Purple Sun’, and Heuchera ‘Forever Red’ (right)

Take your time to adjust the plant so the best side faces out. This Heuchera ‘Forever Red’ is eye- catching, make sure to show his best side!

Arrange the “Spillers”, the Vinca minor ‘Bowles’ so that you can catch a glimpse of them from any angle.

It’s coming together nicely! Zohreh recommends that you take this time to fill in the gaps between plants with soil, and push everything in tight. If there are air bubbles, the container can really dry out.

Don’t forget our secret sauce! Do you wonder why Al’s containers and baskets always look so amazing? We use Al’s Slow Release Fertilizer for all of them. Sprinkle a bit on top of your finished arrangement and water thoroughly. Every time you water you’ll feed your plants and keep them healthy and showy.

Thanks Zohreh, for lending us your expertise!

Now that you’ve built a show-stopping container for fall, you can follow the same steps and choose “Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers” for every season and your porch will be the envy of the block!