When fall rolls around, we love putting together our fall container garden full of colorful annuals. Fall flowers and summer annuals come together to add beautiful autumn color to our container gardens.
So, in this article, I’ll share 15+ fall annuals for containers. There are so many great annual plants for ornamental pots or window boxes. From bright flowering options, to colorful fruiting plants, and so much more. Let’s get started!
We’ll start with an obvious fall choice: chrysanthemums. Commonly called mums, these floriferous plants come in a variety of autumnal colors that look perfect on the front porch. In fact, I feel that fall planters aren’t quite complete without some mums.
Mums come in a wide array of colors, including white, orange, red, purple, yellow, and pink. We like to plant purple and orange mums in the fall to bring out Halloween vibes in our garden.
Tip: Always buy mum plants with flowers that are not yet opened. Look for plants with lots of unopened buds to get the best longevity.
2. Ornamental Peppers
Peppers have been grown for ornamental purposes for centuries. So, while all peppers are technically edible, many are grown purely for their appearance. Look for dark purple peppers, oranges, whites, and of course reds.
Some pepper varieties that are great for fall container plants include the black pearl pepper, medusa, and the macho pepper. Some plants will grow to a maximum height of just 6-8″, making them perfect for edging large containers.
So, while a bell pepper isn’t great for a fall pot, certain chili peppers are perfect for adding rich colors (that are also edible)!
We buy our begonia plants in the spring and get them into pots early on. These annual plants last for months, flowering continually through the summer and fall months. In fact, our begonia are often the last plants to show off their colors, right up until frost.
Begonias are not immune to a hard freeze, but our plants often survive light freezes as winter approaches. This makes begonias a great option for flower pots with interesting foliage and colorful flowers!
4. Dusty Miller
If you want to build a striking fall arrangement, try growing dusty miller in your container plantings. These foliage plants make a great addition to flowers with their white, fuzzy leaves with an ornamental look.
For the brightest white coloration, dusty miller plants need plenty of sunshine. In partial shade, the leaves will have less fuzz, making them look more green. Plant dusty miller on the south side of your pots to give them the sun they need!
If you’re looking for a delicate annual flower, try growing brachyscome. This wispy plant produces an abundance of small flowers, making for a great edge plant in pots.
I particularly like the near-blue brachyscome for growing alongside maroon mums or asters. These vibrant, light-hearted flowers can tolerate the cooler temperatures of early fall, but are grown as annuals in most places.
In my experience, snapdragons tend to grow best in the cooler weather of early and mid-fall. This means they’re a perfect choice for adding height and interest to your fall plantings.
What’s better is that snapdragons can be planted in early spring (or even winter), and will often re-bloom when fall comes around. Their unique appearance and interesting color assortments make them a good choice for autumn.
I love growing marigolds all around our gardens. They are gorgeous, often fragrant, and add a pop of color to potted arrangements. They are also easy to grow from seed in late summer through the fall.
After the heat of summer dies down, I like to sow marigold seeds in large pots to add some unique texture and color. Plus, after flowering, the seeds will fall and self-sow, offering some early spring volunteer plants!
Also called pot marigold, calendula plants are perfect for adding fall colors for containers. These plants are part of the daisy family.
Calendula not only looks great, but it has some practical purposes too. The flower petals are edible, and have been called the “poor man’s saffron.” Eat them on fresh salads, or brew them into a tea.
Tip: Use your calendula to make yellow, golden, and honey-colored dyes, or to add color to soups, stews and sauces.
9. Celosia (Cockscomb)
One of the most impressive plants on this list is celosia, also known as cockscomb. These annual plants are perfect for fall, as they add vibrant colors and a flame-like shape to your flower pots.
You are unlikely to find a more visually stunning annual flower for your decorative containers. Celosia comes in oranges, pinks, yellows, creamy whites, and reds.
While the flowers may be the star of the show in your fall plantings, don’t underestimate the value of ornamental foliage! Cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, chives, and rosemary add beauty (and practicality) to your containers.
I particularly like planting rosemary for its culinary uses in fall soups and stews, and for it’s amazing pine-tree like appearance and fragrance. Rosemary is perfect for a backdrop, while cilantro and thyme can be planted out from to cascade over the edges.
Note: Thyme and chives are actually hardy perennials that can regrow every year if desired (even in cold climates)!
This is another great option for growing interesting foliage. While they also flower, nasturtium leaves are unique enough to plant on their own! While they do die off in cold weather, they should last through the early cooler months.
Nasturtium leaves come in variegated whites and greens (Alaska series), or dark olive hues with bright, white contrasting veins. Flower colors range from dark red to orange, yellow and even creamy pastels.
12. Ornamental Cabbages
The colorful world of ornamental cabbages has gotten pretty amazing. These low-growing foliage plants (that almost look like giant flowers) come in beautiful purples, greens, pinks and whites.
Pair these ornamental plants with upright flowers like snapdragons, or with flowing vines like ivies or sweet potato vine. While ornamental cabbages are technically edible, they may not have the same great flavor as culinary varieties.
13. Sweet Alyssum
One of our favorite flowers to grow virtually anywhere is alyssum. These tiny, delicate flowers can form beautiful mounds of color. For best results, I recommend planting from seed along the edges of your containers.
Sweet alyssums are also some of the best plants for companion planting. They flower all spring, through to the late fall, attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
One of the best ways to add variety and an elegant touch to your fall containers is with trailing vines. Ivy comes in a variety of colors and growth habits, and will grow quickly to flow over the edges of your pots.
If you’re clever, you may be able to source some ivy right out of your own back yard. These vines will easily re-root from cuttings, so ask your neighbors for a few snippings to add to your container garden!
Towards the end of summer, many of our summer annuals are looking dreary. However, zinnias seem to keep blooming month after month, right into fall. This makes zinnias a great choice for a fall display of bright colors.
Zinnias come in a wide variety of both colors and sizes. These include giant blooms on 4′ tall plants, as well as smaller 1-2′ plants with 2″ blooms. We love profusion apricot zinnias for our containers, as they are about 12-18″ tall and full of smaller flowers.
Beautiful Fall Containers
Hopefully you’ve found the perfect fall annuals for containers. However, do you have the perfect container to plant them in? Here are some gorgeous planters with a fall theme:
- Small orange metal pots. These small (5″) metal containers are good for single plants. Group them together in front of larger pots for a great fall look.
- Half-barrel pots. The rustic look of these whiskey barrel containers is perfect for autumn. They also come in a variety of diameters, making them great for any sized arrangement.
- Fancy pumpkin pots. If you’re looking to splurge a bit for a magical fall garden look, check out these outdoor pumpkin planters.
- Classic terra cotta. Honestly, my favorite fall planter is a classic terra cotta clay pot. While these can be pricy for larger sizes, the orange color makes a beautiful backdrop for trailing vines and colorful flowers alike.
I hope this article helps you choose some amazing fall annuals for containers! We love to decorate (both indoor and out) when fall rolls around. Let me know your favorite fall ornamentals in the comments below.