How to Update Your Container Garden for Fall

Keep your container garden looking fresh for fall with these pro tips from gardening expert and owner of Art Knapp, Wim Vander Zalm

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Expert tips to prep your plants for fall

If you’re looking to spruce up your container garden for the colder weather, there’s no better time than now.

“It’s a great time to give some new plants the chance to move into the soil and strengthen for the winter months,” says Wim Vander Zalm, gardening expert, bestselling author, and owner of Art Knapp.

So don’t wait until your annuals are spent—click through for Wim’s tips for transitioning your outdoor planter for fall and get a head start on your garden now.

Credit: Art Knapp

Leafy Evergreens

“The selection of plants available is much different now than it is in the spring,” says Wim. “Choose wisely in order to have a nice mix of colours, textures, and leaf sizes for fall.”

He suggests incorporating leafy evergreens for some seasonal interest, such as coral bells—which are available in a wide assortment of leaf colours—and salal, his personal favourite, for planters as the dark, glossy green leaves house red berries throughout the winter.

Credit: Art Knapp

Rich Colours

Colder temps are no reason to sacrifice beautiful colours in your container garden. For fall, Wim suggests opting for winter hardy plants in rich reds, deep violets, and vibrant oranges.

Winter pansies are an ideal choice as they can intermittently bloom throughout the winter and come in a variety of different flower colours. Sedum succulents also add both visual interest and height through an assortment of bright, earthy leaves.

Available in an array of vivid fall shades, Belgian mums are made for autumn—the bloomers offer a welcome splash of colourful blossoms through November.

If you’re looking to add some contrast to your container garden, heathers—usually with pink, white or purple flowers with green to yellow foliage—and fall asters—hardy perennials that offer showy purple blossoms—are Wim’s top choices.

Credit: Art Knapp


“I always like to throw a grass into my planters,” says Wim. “They’re as beautiful in the winter as they are in the summer and they move easily in the wind.”

Choose from a wide assortment of colours to add some light and movement to your container.

Ornamental Plants

Ornamental plants can also help accent your container garden for the coming season. Wim suggests ornamental kale, cabbage or Swiss chard—particularly the Bright Lights variety— which offers dramatic intensity in their stems and large, fleshy leaves.

Though not a winter hardy plant, ornamental peppers also provide planters a unique fall twist thanks to their gorgeous colours and sky-facing growth.

Credit: Art Knapp

Consider Bulbs

If you’re planning ahead for spring, now is also the perfect time to plant bulbs. When done in conjunction with your other fall gardening, fall-planted bulbs can take root and bloom through the trails you’ve already set.

Do your research and prepare ahead of time so you can prep for two seasons in one go. 

Credit: Art Knapp

Incorporate Accessories

If you’re looking to add an accessory or two to your planter, try incorporating a wind chime or wooden bird feeder on a miniature shepherd hook. Solar lights can also help brighten up your container garden while lighting up darker outdoor spaces at night.

If you’re looking to change up your container, Wim notes that easy-to-move, lightweight pots—typically made from fiberglass—are growing in popularity as they offer more soil space for plants.

Credit: Art Knapp

Maintain Your Planter

Though no fertilizer is required in the winter, it’s important to maintain watering throughout the colder months.

“Despite the cold and wind, dry spells can happen in the winter,” says Wim. “If there hasn’t been rainfall in a few weeks, it’s important to ensure your planters remain watered—especially those under overhangs.”

In addition, Wim advises cleaning out your planter while you’re doing your seasonal transition. “I like to tip it to the side and clean out the drainage holes with a screwdriver,” he says. “The last thing you want is for them to be clogging up in the winter, especially with all the moisture which can rot your plants.”