While summer’s blooms are spent and many people are putting away their containers for the year, why not be creative and spice up your outside space with seasonal container plantings that will take you through to spring. Bobby Berry, artistic director at Art of Landscaping Nursery in Fayetteville, gave me some great ideas that you can use for the coming months.
Thanksgiving Centerpiece Surprise
Everyone has a pumpkin or two being used in fall decorations. A large pumpkin, filled with plants, makes a fabulous centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table and is easy to assemble. Here are the steps:
- Carve the “lid” off your pumpkin, keeping the stem. Put aside.
- Remove the pumpkin mixture and seeds from the interior of the pumpkin.
Measure the diameter of the hole and find a pot that is slightly smaller than the opening of the pumpkin. (Black, plastic containers from the nursery work well.) Fill the pot with an array of eye-catching house plants, like succulents, and then place the container in the pumpkin. You can remove the pot when watering the plants to keep the pumpkin from decomposing rapidly.
- Attach the pumpkin lid with the stem to the side of the pumpkin with small nails for further interest. After placing on the table, add gourds and other fall decorations around the pumpkin for a finished look.
- After Thanksgiving festivities you can remove the pot from the pumpkin, repot the plants in an interesting container and enjoy your house plants! Discard or compost the pumpkin.
- Another option is to use outside plants like mums or ferns and plant them directly into the pumpkin using a potting mix. For this method, you will want to add a drainage hole to the bottom of the pumpkin and cover the hole with a coffee filter to keep the soil from leaking out.
- After enjoying your centerpiece, you can plant the whole pumpkin container into a garden bed. The plants will thrive and the pumpkin will decompose and add some additional nutrients to the soil.
Surprise Seasonal Container
It is great fun and cost-effective to create containers that will take you through late fall, winter and spring! How can you possibly do that? Here are the steps:
- Determine the color scheme for your pot. I chose a burgundy ceramic container and annuals in purple, orange and yellow.
- Use hardy winter annuals, like pansies and ornamental kale to fill in the container.
- Select a tall, spiky plant like dracaena to add interest and balance.
- Your “surprise” element will be spring bulbs! I chose yellow narcissus that will bloom in mid-to-late spring.
- Cover the drainage hole of your container with a coffee filter to hold in the soil, and fill the pot about 2/3 full of potting mix. Do not use native soil.
- Place your tall, spiky plant in the center back. Since plants can become pot bound in plastic containers, loosen the soil and feather out the roots of each plant before planting.
- Fill in the pot with your pansies, leaving 4–6 spots in the soil to plant the bulbs. Plant 4–6 bulbs with the pointy end up. Most bulbs are planted about 3 times the depth of the height of the bulb. My narcissus bulbs were 2” tall, so I planted them 6” deep in the soil.
- Add the ornamental kale in the middle of the pot to spread out and cover the bare spots left for the bulbs. If you have space, add a small pumpkin or other seasonal ornament that you can change out over the months.
- During the fall and winter, the pansies and the kale will take center stage and fill the pot. As spring approaches, you can remove any spent annuals and watch the “surprise” as the bulbs start to push up through the soil!