Plant an Autumnal Patio Pot


Recently I planted a fall container for our patio. This time of year nurseries are full of brightly-colored foliage and sweetly blooming violas. After awhile it was just too hard to resist.

This planter combines my two favorite seasons, autumn and spring. I love them both for their cool sunny days, ideal gardening weather. And also for the sense of renewal that comes with each of them.

burlap wrap

The Container

I re-purposed an old nursery pot from work. This is quite a big pot, which can be expensive, so if you go dumpster diving at a nursery, ask permission before hauling away any of these big pots. Oftentimes, nurseries will keep them for their ball and burlap trees in the spring.

I used an old burlap sack to line the outside. You can actually plant directly into burlap sacks, however since our patio is quite wet throughout the winter, I thought it might rot through. After folding it inside the top of the pot, I tied it off with some hemp twine.


I did drill several holes in the bottom of this pot. It didn’t have adequate drainage, which is important especially during out wet winters, and most especially because I planned to add bulbs to this container.

The Plants

plant names

I wanted a variety of foliage color and shape. And of course, since this is an autumn to spring pot, I chose evergreen perennials.


My first pick was Heuchera ‘Crimson Curls’, I love the pinky underside of the dark foliage, and its luminescence in the late-afternoon sunlight. A time of day that we often sit on our patio.

There are so many gorgeous Euphorbias. Like Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ or the red-tipped Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’. Based on the heuchera I’d chosen I decided to go with on of my current crushes… Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’. Brightly variegated leaves, as well as purply-red tips that I thought would be nicely highlighted by the deep-purple of  ‘Crimson Curls’.


Lately, I can’t get enough lime foliage. And Calluna vulgaris ‘Wickwar Flame’ boasts that plus a wash of orangish-red in the winter months.

heatherAnd you’re probably thinking that’s quite enough foliage for anyone, but what about succulents? I thought the ghostly shade of this sedum made it remarkably appropriate for a autumn palette.

…And after years of lusting after this plant and gifting it to others, I finally bought one for myself. Lack of hillside to tumble down be damned!

Hebe pimeloides ‘Quicksilver’. The arching black stems with delicate silver leaves reminds me of a line from The Raven

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before.

Perhaps not the bit about terrors, but the thrilling and the silken sad uncertain rustling most definitely. Can foliage truly be this evocative? Just take a look.

hebeThe best thing to pair with such startling foliage I felt, were violas in antique shades.  They bloom a bit more than pansies, which are also a great choice for winter containers. Don’t be tempted to toss them after a freeze. Their leaves will lie down and look very limp, but they are still alive and will perk up as soon as the temperature rises.

violasTo put some ‘spring’ in my container, I decided to include a few bulbs. Generally when planting a layered bulb pot, you wouldn’t plant things with woody roots over the top like euphorbias etc. You’d just do pansies or groundcovers. I wanted to give it a try anyhow and I went with daffodils and tulips which I thought might have pointy enough stems to poke through.


One thing to keep in mind, if you plant a layered bulb pot. Put the largest bulbs on the bottom. Also include a good organic fertilizer with some bone meal in it, in each layer.

I’m not sure how these bulbs will do with the cold Bellingham winter, so I will probably add a layer of bubble wrap between the burlap and the pot for extra protection from cold.

Of course, since it’s October. I had to add a few gourds/pumpkins for embellishment.

gourdsHere’s what my pot looks like after a couple weeks of growth. As you can see, the violas are taller than the euphorbia!

container2How about you? Are you doing a fall container this year? What sort of things will you be planting?

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