Cool Weather Plants for Container Gardens

Beautiful fall container gardening with cat resting nearby.

A cool season container garden adds a burst of color to any outdoor space. Perfect if you have limited space, you can't necessarily work ground-level flowerbeds, or even if you like to find creative uses for some of your old household articles, container planting projects come in all shapes and sizes. No matter what your style, there is a planter for you.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "If you plant overwinter plants and you have cold winters, be sure that your container can withstand freezing and thawing."

Choosing Your Container

From paint cans to wash tubs, ceramic and clay pots to metal pails, you can get as creative with your containers as you'd like. It's very easy to make a planter.

Ensure that your prospective planter has drainage holes in the bottom. These holes will help to keep your plant healthy, letting excess water run out.

TIP: Susan reminds you, "Plants in containers dry out quicker than plants in the ground."

If your planter does not have these holes and you are reluctant to put any holes in there yourself, try putting some rocks in on the bottom of your pot. Do this before you add the potting soil, and it will help keep excess water from sitting down around the roots where it can either drown the plant or can lead to root rot. Once you've established that your planter has ample drainage, add your potting soil.

TIP: Susan suggests, "Always use a loamy potting soil when container gardening."

Choosing Your Plants

It's now time for you to add your plants. What individuals are hardy enough to last through the autumn months?

TIP: Susan recommends, "Always choose plants that are appropriate for your growing region."

Here are 20 hardy, cool-weather plants that are sure to help brighten up your fall container projects:

Aster - From the Greek word, meaning "star," asters come in a wide variety of colors and styles.

Coral Bells (Heuchera) - Grown for beautiful leaves that range in color from metallic silver to purple bronze.

Chrysanthemum - Brightly colored flowers of various white, pink and yellow shades.

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) - Striking foliage plant, prized for its soft silvery-white leaves.

Dianthus - Very beautiful plants which include the favored carnation and ever-popular pink.

Dwarf Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) - Popular plant with striking deep green foliage.

Fescue (Festuca glauca) - Decorative colored or tufted grass.

Flowering Kale - Attractive plant with leaves that range from shades of pink, rose, or magenta to white and cream. Bear a ruffled, pretty appearance.

Fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum) - Beautiful and tall decorative grass.

Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum) - A popular ground cover, few can resist the allure of these cute little starlike plants.

Licorice Plant (Helichrysum Icicles) - Grown for its sweet-tasting root, licorice also boasts pretty blue or violet blossoms.

Mahogany (Ajuga reptans) - Also known as Bungleweed, this striking foliage plant has leaves that are a captivating black-burgundy.

Ivy (Hedera helix) - Popular as both an indoor and outdoor plant, ivy can create different looks for your containers, whether you choose to let it grow as a hanging vine or allow it to creep up a trellis or pole.

Pansy - Beautiful little flowers that come in a wide variety of colors. Also edible and, with flowering kale, makes for interesting garnishes or salads.

Redbor Kale - Beautiful member of the kale family, which grows a darker purple shade with every frost.

Sedge (Carex hachijoensis) - Japanese ornamental grass that trails over, creating a whispy accent for container gardens.

Sedum - Intriguing little succulents with striking star-shaped leaves. Always check to ensure your choice in Sedum is cold-weather. Some do well in cold weather but do not do well in heat, while others are vice-versa.

Strawflower (Helichrysum bracteantha) - Very pretty flowers that come in a wide variety of shades, with rose and yellows most common. Excellent for drying.

Swiss Chard - Related to the beet, this unique plant has ribbed leaves of shiny green, with stems ranging in color from red to white to yellow.

Violas - Delicate looking, these hardy little beauties come in a variety of shades from white, yellow, blue, lavender, pinks, etc.