Cooler temperatures have finally arrived and our summer containers of flowers are looking very bedraggled and are ready to say good-bye as temperatures continue to drop. We can still have colorful focal points during autumn by selecting plants for containers that like the cooler weather.
Add some whimsy to your porch or deck in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations by using pumpkins as containers. That’s right – pumpkins make great “pots” for your mums and other plants and will last for several weeks. Most local nurseries and grocery stores are starting to get in great looking pumpkins. Peachtree City Firefighters host an annual pumpkin sale to help raise funds for equipment and activities. You can purchase pumpkins beginning October 2 at Leach Station 81 (Paschall Rd. at Highway 74 South) and at Weber Station 83 (Peachtree Parkway south of Crosstown Rd.).
How to Assemble a Pumpkin Planter:
Buy a large fresh pumpkin and select one large container plant to fill the pumpkin or an assortment of smaller plants. (See list of suggested plants below).
Cut off the top 1/3 and scoop out the pulp inside. (Save the seeds to roast – see recipe below). Use a knife to cut a drainage hole in the bottom. Place a coffee filter at the bottom over the drainage hole to keep soil mix from leaking out the hole.
Fill the pumpkin halfway with container mix. Place your plants in the mix and pack more mix around the plants, getting rid of any air pockets. Leave about two inches of space at the top of the pumpkin so soil doesn’t spill out when you water. Water well and place pumpkin planter in sun or shade, depending on your plant selection.
You can get creative by painting faces on the pumpkin or just keep it plain and surround it with other fall offerings from the garden – pine cones, holly and berries and fall leaves.
As your pumpkin begins to deteriorate, you can take your plants out and place them in another container or in a planting bed and add your pumpkin to the compost pile. Some gardeners save a step and actually plant the entire pumpkin in their planting bed. The plants will thrive, the pumpkin will decompose in the soil and you’ll have great compost in the springtime!
Another method of creating a pumpkin container is to cut a hole in the pumpkin that corresponds to the size of the plastic container your plant is in. Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin, cut a drainage hole and then simply place the plant, still in its plastic container, into the pumpkin. Make sure it is a snug fit and that the plastic container is not showing. If the pumpkin is large and the plant sits too low in the pumpkin, simply add some gravel to raise the height of the plastic container. After you have enjoyed the pumpkin planter, you can easily lift out the plant still in its original container and plant in another container or your garden bed.
You can also purchase “faux” pumpkin containers made of terracotta or other materials.
Suggested Plants for Fall and Winter Containers:
Mums (Chrysanthemums) – a fall favorite with cheerful large blooming flowers
Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) – the standard flower for winter/early spring; numerous cultivars
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) – look for the ‘Rocket’ series – ‘Candy Corn’, ‘Frosted Sunset,’ ‘Black Prince,’ ‘Night and Day’
Johnny Jump Ups (Viola cornuta) – prolific tiny flowers; Look for ‘Sorbet’ series
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale (Brassica oleracea) – numerous cultivars that add height to containers
Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. Cicta var. flavenscens ‘Bright Lights’)
Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) – silvery-gray foliage and wooly leaves add interest
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) – adds scent and holiday interest
Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
English Ivy (Hedera helix) – “Ivy of the Year” winners include ‘Gold Child,’ ‘Shamrock,’ ‘Anita,’ ‘Lady Frances’ and ‘Teardrop’
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)
Cork Screw Rush (Juncus effuses ‘Spiralis’ – twisting evergreen leaves that add interest and sculpture
Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) – add height and interest from twisted, gnarled branches
Golden Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ – great texture and color
You can double or triple this recipe for a party. One large pumpkin will generally yield 1 cup of pumpkin seeds.
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, or more, to taste
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
Rinse seeds well and get as much of the pumpkin pulp off of them as possible. Pat seeds dry with paper towels. Don’t let them dry completely on the paper towels, because they might stick!
Toss seeds with the butter, sugar, and spices.
Spread coated seeds on a shallow baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. Bake at 350 degrees, turning seeds from time to time, for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until nicely browned and crunchy.
Why not get the kids involved and have everyone create their own pumpkin planter this weekend!