Time to plan for fall, winter plants

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At around this point in September, I start thinking about the condition of my summer container displays as I also assess the weather.

Author of the article:

Helen chestnut

Publication date:

15.09.2021September 15, 2021Read for 1 minute Join the conversation Purple winter blooming pansy flowers. Purple winter blooming pansy flowers. Photo by Getty Images /PNG

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Q. When do you start emptying the containers of summer flowers and replanting them with hardy plants for interest in the fall and winter?

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A. At around this point in September, I start thinking about the condition of my summer container displays as I also assess the weather. Since daytime temperatures no longer rise above 20 ° C, this is the ideal time to start the transition from summer to autumn and winter plants. Often times, summer flowers look devastated at this point.

Although container displays with suitable plants can be put together well into the next month, I prefer to set up winter containers early enough, in the second half of September and early October, so that the plants can take root well in the containers before the cold weather .

My main plants are pansies and violas because they provide such a long season with almost maintenance-free flowering. Beautiful young grafts are currently available wherever plants are sold.

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Pansies and violas do well in the 12 inch-wide, bowl-shaped containers I use for petunias.

For mixed winter plantings I use larger containers, sometimes the patio pots I have for mixed summer flowers. They are 40 cm wide and 25 cm deep. Most garden centers stock small, container-friendly, hardy plants for color and interest in the fall, winter, and spring.

Usually I first look for a slim evergreen with enough height to create a “punctuation mark” in the pot. This can be a young, slender golden cypress or an Irish yew, a yellow- or red-branched dogwood, a slender, upright ornamental grass or a variegated evergreen.

For plants surrounding the larger ones, consider coral bells (heuchera), winter-flowering heather, small ferns, and skimmia.

To sprinkle over the edges of the pot, trailing ornamental grasses such as bronze- and copper-colored sedges (Carex) are good choices, along with small-leaved ivy, small ferns, and a trailing euonymus like Emerald ‘n’ Gold.

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