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Tips on Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

Fall is in the air and cooler weather is here. Now is the perfect time to refresh summer flower pots and transition container gardens to fall. Do your summer flower pots and container gardens start looking bedraggled and ready for a change by the end of summer? Mine sure do. Using the same summer container gardens, flower pots, and planters that you already have and reviving and refreshing them for Fall is a great way to save time and money. When you’re finished you will have a fall container garden to add some fall decorative touches to your outdoor space. We’ll cover all the tips and steps for transitioning container gardens to fall.

First off, a little disclaimer, I am not a landscape designer. Here at Gingham Gardens, we’re just normal, middle-class folks that love to garden and like to make our little corner of the world beautiful. The planters in this post aren’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination. But, if that’s what you like, the basic principles of transitioning your summer flower containers to fall are the same. Read on and I think you will agree this is simple enough for even non-gardeners to accomplish.

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Fall Flowers that Work Well in Containers:

  • Chyrsanthemums (a/k/a mums)
  • Asters
  • Ornamental Peppers
  • Pansies
  • Black-eyed Susans (a/k/a Rudbeckia)
  • Celosia
  • Dianthus
  • Viola

Bold foliage plants for Autumn Containers :

  • Coleus
  • Swiss Chard
  • Ornamental Cabbage
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Croton

Most of these fall plants and flowers will survive a light first frost and are perfect for fall planting.

There are likely lots of container plants from your summer planters that will look great in your fall containers too. They include purple fountain grass, ornamental grasses, spikes, creeping jenny, ivy, coleus, vinca vine, sweet potato vine and more. If these plants are looking overgrown, you can simply trim them.

Here in my zone 4 gardens, I like to use annual plants in my fall pots. Hardy perennials, like coral bells, look amazing in fall container plantings too. Just know that if you use perennial plants and you are in a colder climate, you will need to plant those in the ground before late fall.

Steps for Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall:

  • First, pull out the tired-looking summer annuals and leave the tall grasses or spikes. If they are in good shape, also leave the spillers like vinca vine, ivy or creeping jenny. It’s easiest to pull the annuals out when the soil is dry.
  • Next, loosen up the compacted soil. I use my trusty CobraHead. (Yet, another way to use the best garden tool ever.) A sharp hand shovel or a gardening knife will also work.
  • Then, plop in a mum or another favorite fall flower from the list above. I hit the jackpot a few weeks ago and got little quart-sized mums for $1.25 at a local garden center, so I got a bunch. Small potted mums are always a great choice for replacing annuals in a smaller container.

When you finish up here, pop over and check out my article on How to Buy and Care for Mums to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck. You’ll be glad you did!

  • Fill in around your new plants with some fresh potting soil and then give the entire planter, a good, slow watering. .
  • To add some character, I add in some miniature pumpkins and gourds. If you have nuisance squirrels in your yard, you might want to consider using artificial pumpkins and gourds. And, since I have a thing for scarecrows, I usually work a scarecrow into the design.

Refreshed Summer Flower Pots for Fall

Our front porch is tiny, so there isn’t much room to decorate, but I still like to have a little something just to make it feel homey and welcoming. This spring I used this short stepladder and created this little vignette. I like it so much that I kept the same little grouping through the summer and just changed out the pansies in the galvanized bucket to carnations and marigolds.

Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

By the end of summer, the carnations and marigolds were looking tired and the entire vignette was looking pretty bedraggled, so I pulled the summer flowers out of the little galvanized flower pot.

Changing Summer Planters to Fall Planters

I then added in a mum, gave the vinca vine a much-needed haircut and trimmed the spike. The design is completed by adding some Fall touches. Tada… here’s the Fall container.  Very simple, yet adorable and festive!

Fall Decor - Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

Moving to the backyard, we have these deck rail planters all around the deck. This is how they looked earlier in the summer. The bright color palette was really a focal point on our deck, but these planters were ready for some refreshing!

Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

I did the same thing here and pulled out the past-their-prime annuals. The vinca vine was left in the planter, and then I added mums, pumpkins and more adorable scarecrows.

Fall Decor - Tips on Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

Need a reminder of this post for later? Here’s a Pin you can add to one of your Gardening or Fall boards on Pinterest. Or, you can pin any of the pictures in this post by hovering in the upper left-hand corner. There are more Pin collages at the bottom of the post.

Chainging Summer Planters to Fall

One of my favorite container gardens is this old whiskey barrel. It permanently resides on a tree stump in the middle of a flower bed on the corner of our front yard. It’s one of my favorite flower pots and I’ve used it for several years.

Whiskey barrel planter in summer

Here is the whiskey barrel all made over for Fall. As you can see, I left the snapdragons and the creeping jenny, and added in a Mum, pumpkin and a cute harvest sign. Nothing fancy, but still a beautiful container garden that welcomes passersby.

Fall Whiskey Barrel Planter

My handy hubs added tons of character to the front of our humble abode by adding DIY shutters and a window box. I try to change it up every year and every season. You can see the winter version here.

Window box with summer flowers

And, the new Fall look for the Window Box.

Fall Window Box - Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

I don’t have a before picture of the flower pots I have on our deck, but here is one all decorated for Fall.

Fall Planter - Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall

Can you see yourself creating beautiful fall planters simply by refreshing summer containers? I hope this article got your creative juices flowing and you’re ready to revamp your flower planters for Fall. By just making these few changes, our container gardens and planters have been revived and look much tidier and I love all the whimsical fall touches. I’m curious, do you like to decorate your outdoor spaces for the fall season?

You can find more of my favorite fall planter ideas in this post. And, here are some more popular fall posts you’ll enjoy:

Tips for Keeping Mums Looking Great
Fall Flower Garden Inspiration (Plus MORE Decor Ideas)
Fall Porch Decor and Outdoor Decorating Ideas
The Best Fall Perennial Flowers

Thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I hope you have some new ideas and tips for Transitioning your Container Gardens to Fall. If you’d like some more upscale design ideas, rather than my simple ones, check out this article on Houzz for Refreshing Your Summer Container Gardens for Fall.

Happy Fall Gardening, 


My Amazon Picks for Super Cute Fall Decor:

p.s. Please help me out by pinning these pictures. Simply hover in the upper left-hand corner and click the “pin” icon. There are more pins at the bottom of the page. Thanks… a bunch!!!!

p.p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

Pins to Share:

Image of fall flower planters with text overlay - how to refresh summer planters for fall


Image of a fall flower planter with text overlay - how to revive summer planters for fall


  1. Joanna I just discovered your amazing site. It offers so many wonderful suggestions and ideas. I also live in Zone 4 in Golden Valley somewhere near you I think. Since Covid I have become obsessed with Gardening on Pinterest, but so looking forward to visiting Gingham Gardens now that you are in my zone. My main interest is planting pots and especially my yearly huge elephant ears. Can’t wait to use some of your great ideas!

    1. Hi Joanne and welcome to Gingham Gardens. I’m so glad you discovered the website too! There are a few other container gardening posts on the website and lots and lots of posts about flower gardening. Stop back soon! Happy gardening, Joanna

  2. Thank you for making this clear! Some posts are so busy and I love the before and after pictures! It’s early summer😂, but I love my containers and window boxes and was just looking ahead for fun. I never used to do anything with my containers for fall! Now I will.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. And, thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens and taking the time to leave a comment. Stop back soon! Joanna

  3. Hi Joanna:
    Love your fall makeover. I also like to decorate for the season. I had a lot of pumpkins in our garden so used some of them to decorate, some I have sold and some I gave away. I have a couple of plaques for fall and a scarecrow put up. Hope to decorate the mailbox. I do love fall. The leaves are so beautiful right now. I would send you a picture if I knew how. should take a course but rather garden. Ha ha. Keep up the great work it is good exercise and work out.
    Shirley in Canada.

    1. Shirley, it’s always good to hear from you. You’ll have to tell me your secrets for growing pumpkins. I had vines everywhere, but only 2 pumpkins. Thanks for stopping by, Joanna

  4. Thanks for sharing at our To Grandma’s House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More Link Party. I pinned this! Hope to see you again Wednesday!

    1. Thanks so much! Thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales and flea markets are great places to find galvanized containers. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth. I really should try violas and pansies in the fall. I’m sure they would last much longer than mums. Happy gardening for a little while longer.

  5. I love your containers! I will have to do some of this next year. My annuals are looking really tired, but I don’t have the heart to pull them out yet.

  6. I really love the galvanized tub arranged for fall (well, for spring, too!). What a good idea to extend the use of spillers and spikes with fall flowers. Thanks for the ideas. I’ll look into one of those cobra tools, too. Sounds like it would make working in tight spaces easier.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Susan. The CobraHead tool is one of my favorites. I use it for weeding, dividing perennials, breaking up compacted soil, etc., etc. I hope you enjoy your Fall. Come back soon!

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