Creating Blooming Container Gardens for Fall and Winter (2024)

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You can design your color bowl to be as dramatic or understated as you like. Choose the flowers and foliage plants that appeal to you and match the sun conditions that you have available.

Your Lighting Conditions

Once you’ve decided where you want your color bowl to be located, take note of how many hours of direct sunlight it gets, and at what time of day. Use “Sun” plants if the area gets sun all afternoon or 6 or more hours of full sun during the day. If your area has only morning sun or is deeply shaded, use “Shade” plants.

Your Container

What are the dimensions of your container? Does it have adequate drainage? Is it the right color to accent your home? Covington’s offers a huge selection of terra-cotta, glazed pottery and faux terra-cotta containers to choose from. Be creative with your choice of containers, but make sure your container has adequate holes for proper drainage… this is a must for your plants to thrive!

Faux terra-cotta or plastic containers are a good choice because they are light weight and are easier to move if desired. Some materials used for containers are more porous than others. Materials like terra-cotta and wood allow better air circulation and enable the root system to breathe. However, with a more porous material, the soil may dry out faster and need to be monitored for watering more often.

Watering and Maintenance

Your color bowls will require less water in Fall and Winter. Be careful when watering. Don’t allow the plants to dry out or become over soaked as both may cause damage. A good rule of thumb is: “If your container is only dry on the surface, do not water, but if it is dry below your first knuckle, water deeply until the water emerges from the container’s drainage holes.”

Always water your container plants thoroughly before a cold spell to protect.

Potting Recipe for Container Plantings
•Covington’s Potting Soil
•1/4 to 1/3 Expanded Shale for drainage
•Apply Covington’s Flower & Garden Fertilizer or Bone & Blood Meal to encourage blooms throughout the long season.

Thrill, Fill and Spill

Remember this formula when planting your containers:
•Thrill – The tall center or drama of your container
•Fill – The filler layer of flowers or plants which are shorter than the “Thrill”, but taller than the “Spill”
•Spill – The outer layer of plantings which will trail over the edge of your container

Ornamental Cabbage & KalePansyViola-Reseeds
Mustard – Giant RedPanola-ReseedsTrailing Pansy
Swiss ChardViola-ReseedsPetunia–Annual. May reseed
Rosemary-Upright hardy evergreen. Low waterSnapdragon-Until first frost. ReseedsSnapdragon-Until first frost. Reseeds
Alyssum-Until first frost.


Alyssum-Until first frost. Reseeds
Stock-Until first frostStock-Until first frost
Petunia-Annual. May reseedRosemary-trailing/prostrate
Dianthus-Perennial. Fall & Spring bloom
Dusty Miller


Yew-EvergreenPrimroseCreeping Fig-Evergreen
CyclamenStock-Until first frostAlgerian Ivy-Evergreen
PrimroseCyclamenNeedlepoint Ivy-Evergreen
Coral Bells-HeucheraViola-Needs some sun

Pansies – Come in a variety of sizes, colors and types. There are solid colors without faces, to bi-colors with contrasting faces, to blended colors, giving you a mix of colors in each bloom. They thrive in cool weather and will bloom from early fall until hot weather causes them to decline. They will grow in full sun to partial shade. Hard frosts will not damage pansies but may mar existing blooms. Wash any frost off plants; once the soil thaws out, they will bounce back and resume flowering. Pansies are heavy feeders. To encourage continuous blooms throughout the fall and winter, add Covington’s Flower & Garden Fertilizer or Bone and Blood Meal to the soil at time of planting. To give your flowers an extra boost, you may apply a water-soluble fertilizer such as Fertilome water-soluble plant food 20-20-20 every six weeks.

Viola – These are pansy relatives with dainty flowers borne in profusion. The flowers look like miniature pansies and come in an array of colors. Violas reseed heavily during the blooming period and they are a great choice for containers.

Panola – A cross between pansies and violas with excellent cold hardiness and bloom vigor.

Ornamental Cabbage & Kale – Very showy and come in a variety of colors from white to pinks, purples and reds. They look much the same as their edible cousins, but the ruffled foliage is much fancier and more colorful. They do not tolerate summer heat, but are extremely cold tolerant. The brilliant coloration of these plants will intensify as temperatures drop. Plant asa central interest in your flowering containers.

Cyclamen – Bloom in late fall to spring in many colors: red, rose, pink, burgundy, purple and white. The flowers are usually large, uniform, 3 to 4 inches, borne on 6 to 8 inch stems above kidney-shaped, dark green leaves. Some varieties have silvery marbling on their leaves. Dwarf or mini cyclamen are popular because their 1/2 to 3/4 size makes them perfect for container gardens or for window sills.This fall/winter bedding plant prefers rich, well-drained soil. They’ll take winter sun once daytime temperatures stay consistently under 70 º F and are cold hardy. Hard frosts will not kill cyclamen, but will likely ruin existing blooms. The plants will bounce back and resume blooming once the soil thaws. Cyclamen will cease to flower in hot weather, but tend to be perennial if well shaded and watered during the summer months. Water at soil level. NOTE: Plant cyclamen on the high side with the corm (bulb) partially above soil level – do not bury emerging flower buds.


Rev. 1/19/16

Creating Blooming Container Gardens for Fall and Winter (2024)
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