SuPretty Fall containermmer’s Not Over Yet!

Ads for back-to-school sales alert us to the end of summer. But wait, summer isn’t over yet! There’s still plenty of sunshine (and heat!) and the evenings are very pleasant. I hope you have a Labor Day picnic to enjoy this year.

Are your container gardens looking a little tired since it’s nearing the end of summer? You don’t have to give up on them; they can be refreshed with just a bit of pruning and perhaps a few new plants. We always think of mums and asters as fall-blooming plants, but I often find some other cool-weather gems or summer “leftovers” at the garden center at this time of year.

Refreshing containers in late summer is different from designing container gardens in the spring. Since the plants won’t be in the pots all that long, you don’t need to worry so much about light and water requirements. In the spring, I primarily use annual plants (plants that flower, set seed and die in one year) because they are more prolific bloomers. However, at this time of year, if there’s a perennial plant or an ornamental grass in bloom at the nursery, I would certainly consider it for a container. Perennial plants often only bloom for a few weeks each year. I’m sorry to say it but a few weeks are all that’s left of summer. As an added incentive, perennial plants are often on clearance sales at the nursery. I also like to consider plants in the houseplant section of the nursery, looking for plants with pretty foliage more than flowers.

A word of warning, though: perhaps you think you’ll put mums or other perennial plants in your container gardens for a few weeks and then plant them in the garden. This is a good plan, but you must plant the perennials in the garden by the end of September; otherwise, they won’t have enough time to settle into the soil before the ground freezes.

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