Labor day weekend is here which means school is already in full swing and autumn is just around the corner. Fall is the best time to utilize planters as focal points in the garden. As perennial beds start to die back and the days grow shorter, a spicy mix of foliage can revitalize a bland landscape. Break out of the mindset of only using “annuals” for seasonal displays. I achieve the most striking plant combinations when I mix plants from different hardiness zones.
For early autumn, mix Codiaeum variegatum ‘Johannah Coppinger’or Fluffly Ruffle Fern with Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ and Carex pensylvanica. Finish off this gorgeous display of textures and variegated foliage with Viola x wittrockiana ‘Delta Pure Yellow’ for a pop of color that will send your planter over the top.
The Croton and the Fluffy Ruffle Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) are not hardy in the Northeast. I would absolutely recommend bringing them indoors before the first hard frost. They can be overwinter as houseplants. Just make sure to gradually introduce them to an interior environment and give them a lot of bright indirect light.
In the spring I suggest transplanting everything left from the container into perennial borders around the garden. By doing this you get to recycle the plants and watch how different perennials grow in your garden. This is also a great way to introduce unusual plant species to the garden which you are unfamiliar with.